There is an awesome little coffeehouse a neighborhood away, name of Hodgepodge and it's absolutely FAN-tastic. It's more than just coffee and cafe food, it's a Gallery, a Zine Library and the lovely ladies who own this eclectic haven have created a home away from home for us artsy types.
I found out about the writing group a month ago but going out in public and meeting people is like trying to climb Everest without a rope or shoes for me. I can do one on one conversations or even perform for huge massive crowds, but a group of people much more than one and not enough to get lost in, normally would require at least a glass of wine to stave off the shakes, three if I want to say anything. Hodgepodge is too good a place to pass up, though and when my daughter found out about the Knitting Group (her passion), I figured that I should take the nudge from the Universe and just go with it.
I talked to David Hernquist on a personal day out (it's pretty much like when they let the institutionalized people out on a day trip or it feels that way, at least) that landed me at Hodgepodge. I wonder if I come off as awkward and bumbling and tongue trippy (or just trippy) as I feel. He gave me the details about the group and I got excited. I joined the meetup and started running scenarios in my head for small talk just in case and by Tuesday, forgot all of my plans to be socially perfect.
I came to the meeting on Tuesday and wrote in my notebook that was left over from my ill fated last days in College. All the while my Son who normally is quiet and reserved at his favorite Coffee Shop, ran around in wild abandon because he had found a friend. He got a lot of looks and there were lots of comments on how loud things were, I admitted it was my kid expecting a few dirty looks but everyone was very kind. I internally resolved to make my husband stay home with him from now on. Maybe I can get away with it for as long as I can spell things and it go over his head but that probably won't be very long. In any case it was a productive hour and a half, I got a lot written and enjoyed the process, motivated by the need to have something for someone to read.
That Tuesday I found out about the event this Friday. I agreed to come and I even clicked the appropriate RSVP button on the Meetup site. I did not expect that it would be (in my terms) a HUGE deal. My husband and I got there early and hung out. I'm pretty good at that, my entire time in High School was spent hanging out, add a few years of College I'm practically an expert. I was getting pretty nervous about the whole thing, the toys normally laid out for any visiting child's enjoyment had been moved to make space and they still moved a few tables over just so that there would be enough seating. In the end it wasn't enough.
Sitting there playing with my smartphone trying to make sure that my butterflies didn't morph into rampaging elephants, a sparkling woman holding a guitar walked over to our side and asked if it was okay if she worked out a few songs. I said sure, no problem and went back to playing with my phone. She started playing and then she started singing. It was then I knew, I was going to be okay. Even if nothing else happened, I was going to listen to beautiful music that made me feel like I was home.
We talked and chatted until I felt bad for keeping Margo from her practice. Eventually, people filed in and the crowd started forming, most people knew each other and cliques found tables to gather around. People hugged and sat down, a few people even talked to me, I was terrible at holding the conversations though and they slid away to chat with other people. Eventually, it was crowded enough that someone had to sit at my table and I forced myself to be sociable to make sure that I was welcoming and didn't alienate people (I never mean too but introversion can also seem like coldness) and ended up having a lovely conversation about art with a gorgeous woman whose name I wish I could remember but my nervousness erased it from my brain. I told her I envied her boots and really I envied everything about her, I really hope I get to hear more about her poetry.
I made it through the night and made sure I told Margo that I wanted to see her play again and if she had a website I'd be happy to comb through it. She gave me her card and I gave her my email, I really really hope that I'm brave enough to send her the link to this blog tomorrow. I had a brilliant time talking to her and her friend about art and artists and our compulsions to be vulnerable and push back into the world. I was so excited to talk to her and to be around real people who were Artists that I think I started to blank out and repeat myself or just babble too much in general. One day I'll figure out how to be cool but that day was not today.
For all the artists in that room, other than the soulful Margo, in some ways I connected more with the lovely people behind the counter and joked with them through the night. I really hope that the beast of anxiety has taken a mortal blow and I won't be seeing it again. Alas, I'm too much of a pessimist to really believe it.