“I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world.” — Sting
Ever since the pandemic I have had a very hard time getting excited about leaving my house for social engagements. During Covid, it was, of course, mostly a fear of exposure that kept me in, but now — I think it is more the realization that my life at home is richer and more meaningful than most of what occupies my time outside. I’ve been told this is unhealthy.
The truth is, I abhor small talk. And also I’m terrible at it. I’m embarrassed by my inability to socialize in appropriate ways, preoccupied with thoughts of my aging face and body, humiliated, in the presence of so many successful working women, by the fact that I’m a stay at home mom, and mortified by my inability to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail without an accompanying headache or upset stomach. The things that seem to fill up the friends I love, only deplete me. No matter how hard I try, I just don’t enjoy other people the way I think I am supposed to.
Instead — I love a cozy corner of the couch, a good book, dinner at home with my husband and kids. Here, there is no end to the projects and activities that await me — novels I want to write, knitting ventures, watercolor journals, baking experiments, short stories to read. How am I to accomplish all of this creative and intellectual exploration if I am stuck in someone’s backyard straining to talk over the chatter about something that doesn’t matter with someone who doesn’t get me?
At home, there is no fear of judgement, no mirror to highlight inadequacies — made up or otherwise — and most importantly, no pressure to connect in a landscape that seems more and more frayed each time I enter into it. The world is equal parts despair and diversion and trying to act like it isn’t all about to implode feels absurd.
Point being, I’m not super fun over a cheeseboard. 1
Of course there are exceptions. I love a one on one with a friend over lunch or coffee. I love dissecting stories or plotting out potential projects with other writers or artists. I love talking about my kids with another parent and listening to them talk about theirs. I love taking classes and being immersed in new ideas with a room full of strangers who share my passions. I love teaching. It’s hard to give space to these things though, when so much of my…