On Saturday I pretty much crossed the entire bipolar spectrum as I attended the wedding of my “female best friend”. Now, I didn’t have any problem when “other female best friend” got married in early 2012, partly because she only had family for the actual ceremony and partly because “female best friend” has always been somehow closer to me, more like a genuine little sister. This occasion was more like the wedding of my old American roommate’s little sister back in 2007, and here’s why: the whole “how they met” story being recited at the reception, which served to remind me that I’ve never met anyone that way, even for a relationship that didn’t end in marriage. Indeed, the closest I can get to this whole concept is my chance meeting with “newest friend” last year, and I’m hardly likely to marry him, even if the law changes in this country the way George Takei is hoping it will!
It’s worth noting, however, that my spirits were lifted (uh huh huh huh, again) by the end of the day, as I became acquainted — or perhaps that should be reacquainted — with “female best friend’s” other friends, young ladies I’d met before but never really gotten to know before. Indeed one, “female best friend’s” oldest friend, kept hugging and comforting me, and even danced with me during the reception (I think we upstaged the newlyweds — sorry if you’re reading, “female best friend”!), almost as though she sensed I was down and needed cheering up. But no, she’s not “the one” — for one thing, she’d be rather more likely to make use of the aforementioned change in the law!
Another friend, to my shame, I hadn’t recalled at all, but it turned out to be fortuitous for her that I was organising a taxi to take me back to the main city station later than every other Londoner had left to get a connecting train from the village’s pokey little station, because it meant I was able to bring her purse to her, and still arrive in time for the last train that got back to the Smoke before the Tube shut down! She turned out to be as interested in local politics as me (albeit not from Barnet, so she was shocked to hear about the ways our corrupt Tory betters are trying to screw over the disabled for a profit), and we did puzzles on the train home, together with “good housemate” (more about him later). No, she’s not my type, but she’s perfectly nice, and I certainly need all the friends I can get…
Because I think the reason that I felt so much more cheerful during the reception (once the speeches were over) than the ceremony is simply this: I need more friends and social interaction. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed my holiday in America and felt such black despair when I came back to Blighty (though the jet lag and appalling weather may also have played their part): I spent two weeks in the company of 13 other people (including the guide), rising to 16 if you count another group travelling to the same places as us, and I come home to my usual mundane life of staying in most nights, and my only real social contact (aside from the occasions I get to see “newest friend”) is with the people at work.
There’s also the consideration that the worst place for a single person, especially one pessimistic about their chances of ever finding someone, is surrounded by a lot of happy couples, or people who have already paired off and so aren’t “on the market”, and talk about their mundane married lives, which still seem enticing and jealousy-inducing to someone who hasn’t even been in a long-term relationship before. So what it comes down to is, I need to get out more.
(Yes, that earthquake you just felt was the biggest penny in the world finally dropping, thanks for your sarcasm!)
I’ve already begun this process: there’s a website called Meetup.com (I wonder if they’ll give me credit for this blatant plug) which lists all sorts of clubs and gatherings that have been organised, especially here in London; I’m going to a sci-fi society on Saturday, and I’ve joined a couple of others to see where they lead. Honestly, it’s like Freshers’ Fayre all over again — except this time I won’t join a society and then let my interest peter out, as I did with (of all things) a climbing society at my alma mater! Wow, sixteen years before I took it up as a hobby, I tried it once as a student and didn’t seem to enjoy it… my, but how we change.
There’s one other thing to mention about the weekend, and it was a bit of a revelation. I’ve spoken here before about “good housemate”, but I may not have made it clear that he’s the same guy from this spiel, who used to insult me by claiming (variously) that I’m a heterosexual virgin, a practising homosexual, and “banging my Chinese girlfriend” (I was actually meeting my Japanese female friend for language exchange, so there were at least three things wrong with that one!). Don’t hold it against him because he still let me stay at his flat in early 2012 when I was “between” homes, and he was right about me not cleaning the house enough (something I’ve rectified in this household).
Anyway, I’ve always thought, despite his insults, that he was a hoopy frood — a really amazingly-together guy, who knew what he was doing and had a plan. It seems I got this impression purely from the fact that he spent the five years we lived at Caledonian Road saving up for a deposit, because in fact he doesn’t really want to do anything other than the things he enjoys, and I suspect the only reason he gets more girls than me is that he’s more confident approaching them (and a couple of years younger, and has his own place, and is slightly better looking…), not because he’s looking for his future wife. In fact, he even admitted to me and the other friend on the train home that he has trouble forming emotional bonds with people, and that he might be a borderline Asperger’s case.
Now, I know I shouldn’t feel schadenfreude… and I don’t in this case, I actually wish I could help him out (I have offered to go climbing with him, but he reckons he needs to lose a lot of weight first — the penalty for quitting smoking — though we may be on for badminton). However, I do feel a bit better about my own life, because I’ve actually had plans to change my life over the past few years, even if they’ve so far come to nought. Oh, there have been times I’ve felt happy in my rut, sitting at home playing video games and using the Internet to deal with my (ahem) frustration, and while that may be okay occasionally, I don’t want to end up that way again, because it’s a false happiness that occasionally makes me scream in horror when I see, fleetingly, the gilded cage I’ve built around myself.
(Ooh, wasn’t that poetic? No? Ugh, please yourselves…)
There have been other times I’ve tried to change my life, and too often I’ve given up in anguish — which is why I won’t be wasting time with speed-dating or sites like Match.com or Lovestruck (which seem to be about 90% male anyway, so any woman of even passing attractiveness gets swamped by messages from blokes, and shy guys like me disappear into the background noise), but instead trying to do things that actually interest me. Maybe I won’t meet the girl of my dreams (though I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get any action!), but at least I can do something different, and maybe have more interesting stuff to talk about here.
A (perhaps worrying) postscript: I enjoyed alcohol at the reception rather more than I have in the rest of my life, and indeed got quite a pleasant buzz from two glasses of champagne, instead of screwing my face up like I usually do. So, it seems I’m well and truly off the wagon at last, but is 35 the wrong time to be boozing, and will this undo any of the benefits I’ve gained through exercise? Will loosening up and having fun be the death of my liver? Are caffeinated sugar (or worse, aspartme) drinks any healthier? Or is it just a case of “all things in moderation”?