The biggest problem I'm having with life right now is simply that the rate of change far exceeds my ability to cope. Fortunately, things are changing *so* fast that the rate of change also exceeds my ability to freak out, so at the moment, I usually just feel mildly disoriented. Once things quiet down a bit, I'll have time to panic.
Two weeks ago, I went to secret church with a friend. The story behind that is long, poignant, and heartwarming, but I can't tell it yet.
In case you're wondering, the difference between secret church and regular church is that at secret church they don't take any particular notice of aliens, whereas at regular church they often react with confusion, anger, and a detailed but ultimately incoherent explanation of why all aliens inevitably go to hell.
It's probably also worth pointing out that, no, I don't usually go to secret church *or* regular church. Secret church is, at the moment, a special project; I'll probably be going for a little while, and then we'll see what happens. Before this month, I hadn't been to church in, oh, maybe twenty years.
Last weekend, my secret church friend had a prior commitment, so on Saturday went shopping instead. I found the store I was looking for, had a lot of fun hanging out with the other women, and now, apparently, I'm making a needlepoint penguin. (No, not Tux.) I haven't done any needlepoint in probably thirty years!
Then on the way home, some guy on the bus called me the dreaded s-word. Twice. It made me cry, right there on the bus. I was afraid the trauma might ruin my penguin, but I still think the penguin is reasonably cool, so I guess it didn't. I don't think there was any malice in his choice of words, but that almost made it hurt worse.
On Sunday I went to Wal-Mart to look for bead stuff and needlepoint stuff, and managed to find some of both. Then, in an effort to restore my karmic shopping balance, I went to one of the few independent bookstores in the city, a sci-fi specialty store. I'd never been there before but had heard of it and had always wanted to visit, and somehow found myself having lunch in front of it! So I went in, and it was a pretty cool place. I almost bought a copy of Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness, but decided I still felt too vulnerable for something like that after Saturday's s-word incident.
Last night, I went to see the new Lemony Snicket movie with a bunch of people. I enjoyed the movie, and I also enjoyed hanging out with the people, but I felt a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing. On the mailing list setting up the outing, someone asked how to find the group, and the answer was basically: oh, don't worry, this group is hard to miss. This was basically correct. So, after a month that included secret church, a penguin, and the s-word, and after a long day at work, and wandering through a large, confusing, Christmas-crowded mall that I'd never visited before, I was faced with the prospect of trying to meet two dozen moderately strange strangers in a dark, crowded movie theater, and my brain just said, ok, I've had enough. After the movie, we were all hanging out, and I'm sure people thought I was really unhappy, sitting off to the side by myself, but the truth of the matter was that my brain was full and new stuff was just bouncing off. I sat there in a daze and watched the pretty colors. Did I mention that some of the strangers had blue hair?
Tonight, I made a new friend on the bus, coming back from my visit with P. It was cool to make a new friend, but... well, some stuff was just kind of odd, and I don't have enough experience making new friends to really understand what, if anything, was actually odd. The conversation sort of started with "I'm an alien", so that was out in the open. Sigh. Humans. Who can figure them out?
This week, a friend and his dog are coming with me to visit my Dad and stepmom for Christmas. This will also be new; I've never invited any friends to come home with me for Christmas, and I haven't been home for Christmas myself in several years.
I'm still struggling with a variety of big picture questions. Things like "Who Am I?" "Where, if anywhere, do I fit into society?" "Where am I going in life, and how am I going to get there?", but fortunately, coping with the bewildering array of changes in day-to-day life has put the big, scary questions on the back burner for now. Which, really, is a good thing.
Looking back over what I've written, I realize that some readers may be thinking, gee, that's not really *that* much change; what the heck is her problem?
It's hard to describe how different my life has become. Three years ago or so, the average evening consisted of staying home and watching tv. Weekends were basically the same thing, combined with whatever seemed necessary to combat the pain and loneliness. Basically self-imposed solitary confinement. Meeting new people and going new places were quite rare occurrences.
Compare that to the last couple of weeks: I was probably introduced to at least 20 people at secret church, and another dozen or so at the movie, plus two at the needlepoint store, and one on the bus tonight. And then there are the people I've met through my journal entries. And three old friends I reconnected with via email this week. People are entering my life at an astonishing rate, and that by itself is a challenge after a decade of isolation.
I'm also going to new places at an astonishing rate. A needlepoint store I'd never been to. A supermarket I'd never been to. A Wal-Mart that I'd never been to. A bookstore I'd never been to. A game store I'd never been to. A mall I'd only been to once. For other people, these would be very ordinary trips to very ordinary places in the city, but for a person whose life, for a decade, was designed around a triangle consisting of home, work, and the grocery store, the notion that you can find out about a place and then just sort of go there is something that takes a little getting used to.
P has told me more than once that she's never seen an alien who's so afraid of change. But of course, change is the very heart of the alien experience. Yet another paradox about my alien self.