On one of my Facebook pages (yes I have more than one) I saw the announcement looking for blog writers for the Patch. The North-Druid Hills Patch to be specific. I thought, “Hey! I write stuff! I live off North-Druid Hills! I can do this!” So emailed the Powers That Be and asked to participate. I intentionally did not link them to any of my other blogging exercises scattered across the interwebs out of fear they would reject me due to possible mental instability and lack of appropriate filter. Due to my omissions and a well-crafted email I was accepted! Then it happened.
I realized I had to find something to talk about. And not just something, but something appropriate and not weird or ranty. Not yet at least. It’s not that I’m so worried about offending people (possible) or outing myself for my weirdness (obsessive pop-culture junkie, exercise fanatic, compulsive daydreamer) because anyone that knows me well has probably already figured this out, but that there are so many people out there that do not know me well, but do know me and they all live in the Druid-Hills Patch demographics.
To put it more clearly: my entire life is one giant situation of potential social awkwardness. Why? Believe it or not, I’m a bit of an introvert, which means that in many social situations I simply cave. But living where I do, for as long as I have, means that a basic outing to the store can freak me out.
History: I grew up in the Oak Grove neighborhood, back when it was safe to play outside and roam the streets all the time (exception: during the Atlanta Child Murders when I was convinced I was going to become Wayne Williams next victim regardless of the fact I did not live in downtown Atlanta, was a girl and decidedly Cauacasian) At that time we had no middle school, so we were wildly immature until we were thrust into the high school, Lakeside, as 8th graders. The pros? Well, if you’re like me, by the end of 9th grade you’ve found your future and older classmate husband. The other pros? There is nothing worse that acting like a jerk in front a senior when you’re a sub-freshman. Everyone manned up a little bit. The cons? I didn’t have to make new friends until I was 13 years old. Which means I kind of never learned the basic skills of “small talk and meeting new people. There just weren’t ever new people. Other cons? By the time I graduated I had the same science teacher three times and he was my arch nemesis, so that was awkward.
I escaped to college in North Carolina, but after a year and a half found myself back in Georgia at UGA. I never thought I would end up at school in Georgia, but once I settled into life in Athens I loved it, hiding among the throng of 30 thousand classmates. I tried my hardest to find a job there as a social worker after graduation. Tried and failed. Instead I was hired as a Juvenile Probation Officer in Fulton County, which meant I was coming home to Decatur.
Fast forward four houses, multiple jobs, two businesses, two kids and a couple of dogs and cats and here I am. Approximately three miles away from the house I grew up in. I live a couple of miles away from both my mom and my in-laws. Every Thursday night we watch our girls play baseball at the local church where my husband and I both played softball in high school and the other day I saw my math teacher from seventh grade at Publix.
I hid behind the doughnut display.
I often hear that there are no natives in Atlanta. Obviously they are confused. I cannot go anywhere without running into someone I went to preschool with, someone’s mother, my former Sunday school teacher, someone who babysat me, someone who babysits for me, that guy who was not cute in school but now is very cute, which means I have to call/text/email my friends I grew up with and discuss how cute he is and how we had no idea he was that cute and did you hear that he is gay?
The worst part of it though is that I try to pretend that I don’t live where I do. Being socially awkward, the best days of my life are when I go to the local Mexican place and no one recognizes me. I have been known to hide on the floor board of my car rather than run into someone I sat next to in the third grade. It’s not that I don’t like these people, it’s just that I’m not very good at small talk. Or appropriate social norms.
To make matters worse, due to my job and my husband’s job we know a lot of people. So many local people. All right here. Going to dinner, the park, the ice cream store, shopping and anywhere else is sure to be a landmine of people we know. He loves this. He loves everyone. He intentionally tries to find as many people as he can and talk to them all the time. I’m more, “I’ll be over here looking at my phone,” trying not to say things that will end up getting both of us fired. Oh wait. I own my own business. Woot!
If you think I’m being dramatic (FYI: I’m being dramatic) let me explain how bad all of this can be. Several weeks ago the family and I went to support a friend who was shaving his head for the Saint Baldrick’s Fundraiser. It was held at a local restaurant in the ‘hood. I knew we would see people we know. I knew this. I did not realize that between the front door and the bathroom I would see approximately 200 people I knew. This is not an exaggeration. I quickly realized that not only was the friend getting his head shaved but I knew pretty much every kid sitting in the row of chairs on the stage. And oh, I knew the organizer and his family. And right, those kids in the band. Jeez, there’s a friend’s mother. And another friend’s niece. And oh wait, I think I know those waiters. And that person and this person and those people over there…
We had to leave after fifteen minutes.
I complain but do I move? No. I don’t. I like it here. I like living in the city but not in the city. I like having access to so many things and never having to go outside five square miles to do pretty much everything I want to do (except go to Trader Joes, but that is another post for another day). I love that my work is 2 miles away and that my kids have friends in a variety of neighborhoods close by. And I also have a large group of friends that I’ve known in one way or the other since I was twelve. Or even five. It’s weird sometimes but also nice when I say, “I saw my arch nemesis at Mo’s Pizza the other night and hid behind the video game machine until he left,” everyone knows who I’m talking about and nods in agreement.
I’m just saying that sometimes, for a socially awkward introvert living somewhere so awesome can be hard. My reactions can appear anywhere from outright hostile to squirrely. Really, I’m just pretending I have on my Cloak of Invisibility, which means I can see you but you can't see me.
So if you see me at the OGM (you won’t. I love the Market, but I can’t, it’s like the death trap of people I know) or the yogurt place or at that other shop I’m not telling you about so you won’t go when I’m there, and I duck behind a potted plant, just ignore me. That’s my way of saying hi.