Not having a blog isn't working out, so I'm kind of back.
I'm still not going to post very often, but there doesn't seem to be any harm in slapping in a paragraph or two when I do have something to say.
And it's been an exciting few days. I've socialised twice in the last week, which is positively unheard of. Okay, I'll go to the pub once a week, maybe twice, but these were full-blown, special occasion-related nights out, and I really can't remember when I last did one of those. I should point out that they were, respectively, a retirement do and a wedding, so hardly scenes of outrageous debauchery, but given that my idea of a late night has become staying up for the end of Match of the Day on a Saturday night, two seven-hour sessions in a three night period ranks as something of a blowout. Honestly, my diet coke intake this week has been monumental.
The retirement drinks took place across a number of pubs in town. There were more than 30 people in attendance at various points during the afternoon and evening, only a smattering of whom I know well enough to talk to. There was a time when integration with the unknowns within the group would not have been an option. I don't know whether I'm less shy nowadays, or have simply learned that I don't give a shit. There remains much awkwardness, but I seem more comfortable than I used to be with proceeding into the unknown. It helps that after a couple of hours everyone is drunk except me.
To my pleasure and surprise, midway through the day I found myself having one of those conversations. You know the kind - you end up sitting next to someone with little option but to talk to them. Mutual friends have drifted home or off to another table, and you have no choice but to engage with the individual next to you. I say 'one of those' conversations, meaning one of those which seems natural and easy from the outset, despite initial unfamiliarity with the other participant. You seem to share interests, use the same kind of language, and, crucially, make one another laugh. There is some level of attraction. You're not sure whether it's physical or emotional. It doesn't matter, because it feels unusual and exotic and unfamiliar and, well, just plain great. I don't have these conversations very often. Perhaps I've only had five or six in my life. I'd forgotten how it felt. The only equivalent I can think of is the sort of crush you develop on a friend you admire at school. For only the second time in my life, the other participant in this conversation was female.
This ties in rather nicely with the second night out of the week, since the previous female subject of 'one of those' conversations was the bride at the wedding I attended (for those who are new or have not been paying much attention, I wasn't the groom). I distinctly remember, since it was as unusual then as it is now, the speed at which we connected ten years ago. It briefly felt like some sort of romance, and it felt necessary for the first time to tell someone outright that I was gay, lest my eagerness to become friends be misconstrued. In fact I sometimes wonder if, were I perhaps 20% more heterosexual, I might have become her husband myself some day. Thankfully, I was always clear-thinking enough never to consider shoe-horning myself and others into a life that wouldn't fit.
It was a great wedding: Medium-sized guest list, lots of good food, no speeches and a chocolate cake. The choice of song for the first dance was almost scarily like a tune I'd have chosen myself. I have no doubt that they will be jolly happy together for many years.
I don't think I'll pursue the new friendship too far, although we have since exchanged e-mails. Our paths may cross again at work, but the truth is I don't really have a vacancy for a close friend right now. I'm settled, comfortable with my routine, and, by any conventional definition, happy.
Hmmm.... didn't expect this post to go where it's ended up.