Tuesday, May 05, 2020

The Graduation Party

Our neighbors across the street have a daughter who just graduated from Michigan St.

Obviously, it's a strange time for graduates, particularly when it comes to celebration, but they held a COVID-era party for her on Saturday.

We had it in our next-door-neighbor's yard. Four families (fifteen people in total). We all brought chairs, and each family lined up like players on a Monopoly board. I sat in a "pod" with Gloria and Eli 18.9. No family was closer than 20 feet from another.

Then we just sat and talked for three hours.

As a committed introvert, I experience quite a bit of discomfort at parties, and by "parties," I mean "gatherings of more than four people, sometimes three." I can have really rewarding conversations with strangers in a one-on-one conversation. Put me in with more than a few other people, and it feels like a mob.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate my usual discomfort at parties in the 8 range, often peaking at 10. And I can't stay long. An hour is just about my maximum.

This time, surprisingly, it felt much less that way.

I was surprised that I didn't really feel any discomfort at all, although I would have rather not been there for three hours. Then later I thought about why this was different.

Two things, I think. One was physical separation from most of the people. That helped. The other thing was that there weren't five conversations going on at once. There was only one, and people were generous in terms of letting others speak. No one was trying to alpha.

So I guess I can be around other people in groups. I just can't be around them when they're near me. Or something.

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