Good luck with your Big Projects in the next few weeks! I’ll be glad to have you back from busy zombieland, though goodness knows I’ve been a zombie lately so I can’t really judge.
The post title is from a really sappy, hipstery Jaymay song called “Gray or Blue” which is the saddest ukelele song I’ve ever heard and which I encourage you to listen to because it has some really lovely moments.
(Although I don’t really get why both of these people are dating people who they know they don’t love and aren’t likely to start loving, but I never said it was a logical song, just a pretty one.)
Lately I’ve been thinking about how many people I’ve met in the last few months, and about how my social circle feels so full right now—friends from childhood, high school, the internet blogging community I was a part of through my teenage years, college, the post-college friends I made, the CPC, work, church congregations. It’s wearing me out just thinking about it. And because so many of the people I love best are elsewhere, it takes a lot of effort to remain invested in their lives, while I’m still trying to develop new relationships in my new environment. It’s worth the effort, but sometimes I wonder how I can keep investing in more and more people. Which as I say it sounds really selfish. I’m trusting you to understand.
The case study this week is, of course, the fact that I decided to skip the regional young single adult church conference, after a lengthy mental debate and much attempted persuasion from the other YSA women in my ward. But on Friday night when N told me there was free square dancing in Bryant Park on Saturday, I said yes with barely any further thought.
First, a little background: have I talked to you about contra dance before? It’s a really fun form of structured social dance—think Jane Austen dancing, but with very energetic, very American music. Look it up on YouTube. I like contra because I can actually contra dance fairly well: every dance is taught before the music starts and dances are full of patterns, which means I can actually learn them. Also, swinging is fun, and I feel like I’m connecting with some folk roots, which I love.
You always dance with a partner in contra, but because you’re dancing in figures down lines, you’re dancing with the rest of the group about as much as you’re dancing with your partner. Also, it’s perfectly normal to ask a stranger to dance, and dancing with the same partner twice in a row is strongly discouraged. Which basically means that if you want to dance in a dance, there will be someone who wants to dance with you.
The first time I went contra dancing I was too shy to ask people I didn’t know to dance, though a couple of experienced dancers asked me to dance, probably because they could tell I was new around those parts. The second time, though, I decided to jump in with both feet and dance with everyone who made eye contact with me between dances, and it was SO FUN. I love dancing (when I have the structure that contra provides, at least), and when you’re in a room full of people who also love dancing, well, you all know you’re here to dance, not to meet people. (Though meeting people can be a side bonus if you go to contra frequently.)
I’m a shy person, generally speaking, but only shy in very particular ways. For instance: I would rather go to a social dance in a park with 900 strangers than a church dance with 300 other
sides of beef at the meat market Mormons, because at square dancing, I’m not expected to make lasting connections. If church dances were contra dances, I’d feel a lot more inclined to go, because I’d be going to dance and not to eye eligible young men from across the room and try to muster the courage to go talk to them.
So on Saturday, instead of going to a church activity where I’d be expected to meet a lot of people who I might have to interact with in the future, I went square dancing. It wasn’t quite like contra because the dances were less complicated and the social rules about partners weren’t the same, but I danced with N and we had a swell time. And though I talked to a lot of new people, even though I held hands with dozens of complete strangers, I did not meet anyone at all, and that was a relief.
Sometimes it’s nice when people can be comfortably strangers.