I really love the series Mad Men. I resist watching it because it isn’t exactly an “upper”. Some of the characters are real jerks. But I keep watching it because it gives me real insight into the sexism my mom and her peers had to face as they started their working lives. And how lucky I am that I live and work in this decade. If I ever get down on how hard working is, I need only to look at a few episodes of that show to know how good I have it. For the most part I am judged on the quality of my work. And if people are judging me on anything else, they have to keep it to themselves, which is fine by me.
One character that I particularly like is Peggy. She and I don’t have much in common (she is Catholic, petite, and a creative genius), but I am relating to her character more and more this season. This season has shown Peggy trying to become a Manhattan girl – hard-drinking, savvy, and fun. And it seems to chafe against her “true” self. Like Peggy, I don’t think I have a “party” setting.
Drinking to any extent makes me tired and itchy – literally my face and arms itch badly. And I don’t have the ability to let go without liquor like some people. And it has meant I have missed out on a heartbreaking amount of experiences in my life. I can’t turn my brain off. I can’t transform myself. I can’t “let loose”. And it blows. When things really start getting fun for other people, they become miserable for me and I just want to go home and read.
I have had some brief flashes of party fun in my life… but they are just that – flashes. Memories I wouldn’t trade for anything – a pub crawl, my wedding night, a holiday party, but for the most part I am out for the count. I have many more memories of being told to smile, lighten up, get in the spirit, let loose. I don’t intend to be a downer, just in a room of uppers, I stick out. Grrrr.
And so I have had some recent experiences where I have not fit in. I saw some old high school friends recently and I realized they all had a lifelong bond because of shared partying. And that I may have existed in the same universe as them, but I never fit in. I never got really close to anybody in high school because I didn’t do the partying. Grrrr. It just sucks. And that trend moved into my college years where there was the same pattern. I tried harder, but with the same poor results. And now I don’t try unless I really, really have to.
I spent most of my young adulthood anxious to grow up and shed the obligations of youth. To be allowed to set my own schedule and social agenda and to be a pariah in the privacy of my own existence seemed like freedom. And it still does. To be clear, I am not a stick in the mud, party pooper, bore. I literally just *can’t*. I try, but I can’t figure out the formula.
And to where I am going with this… recently DH and I celebrated the 4-year anniversary of our first date. As I sat across the table with him as we shared our first hummus and conversation together, I knew it was him. I knew I fit with him… that he had an even harder time turning off his brain than I do, that he would provide interesting (sober) conversation for innumerable years, that he would appreciate my foibles, not goad me to overcome them. What a freakin’ gift that is.
Recently I had some tears over a party we went to where I didn’t fit in, where I felt 15 and hopeless again, watching people form new friendships while I was struggling to even get in the conversation. But the difference between now and 15 is that I do fit in. With at least one person. And that he will always sit next to me at a party. And that we get to fit together for the rest of our lives. How cool is that?