Friday, December 19, 2008

single-serving friends


The last couple of states I have been cradled in friendship, surrounded by temporary, new, and even some old friends. These impromptu alliances are one of the things that make the Vantasy special. While I've temporarily lost communication with some of my best friends in Portland, it's been neat to see the space they've left filled by unexpected folks. Most of these are people who I spend maybe one special day with and will probably never see again. I keep feeling like I should be getting tired of having single-serving friends like this, but there's a open-minded freedom and intimacy to these relationships that long-term friendships don't always have. We don't expect much from each other, we don't get worked up over missed phone calls, we don't really care if we have a lot in common. Our job is just simply to enjoy time together and learn about each other. We try each other's lives on for a short time and see what happens.


There was Brian in Madison, who invited me into his home to hang out with his roommates, watch tv, drink beer, and cuddle his dog. We bonded over our love of Vonnegut and I painted a large "asshole" for the wall in his room (read Breakfast of Champions!). In Lawrence Kansas, there was Nate, who looked like he should be a TV star and quickly introduced me to his giant group of friends. Suddenly I recognized people all over town; it was like Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood all over the place. In Corning, I spent the day with Amber, who walked around the glass museum with me and made me one of the best lunches I've ever had. In Brunswick, Georgia, I met George, a civic-minded business leader who introduced himself over a beer at the bar just before he had to leave for his Republican party meeting.


It's never clear when these connections will be made, and you can't force them. They just happen naturally or they don't happen at all. They are the spice of the Vantasy.

Couchsurfers enjoying the dinner I cooked

On my last day in St. Augustine, I had $8 in my pocket, which I hoped would last me for another week. I'd spent the day knitting, reading, and writing in my van, and had taken two EXTREME walks with Ralgh around the old part of town. After a few hours hanging out in Vanta C, I started doing that thinking thing that I always seem to do. I hadn't showered in a few days, my hair was looking greasy and BAD. I started feeling ugly and boring, so I put earrings, a hat, and a dress on and decided that today I should spend a few bucks on a glass of beer and see if I could find someone to talk to before I went crazy. I tried to go to this little cafe I'd heard about, but when I got there it was empty. I didn't want to waste my money in an empty bar; it was the company I wanted, not the beer. So I went next door to a little thrift shop and tried some clothes on. After deliberating for way too long, I settled on buying a cute pair of pants for $1.99 and when I paid, the cashier said, "you are really gorgeous." I nearly wept all over myself right there, and told her how I hadn't talked to anyone all day and how I was getting depressed and somehow that was exactly what I needed to hear and thank you thank you thank you... I'm not sure why thinking that I look pretty to other people is enough to radically change my mood like that; it seems stupid and superficial, but I guess I'm not perfect.

Anyway, she told me that that evening was the town art walk, so I ended up looking through all the galleries and getting drunk on free wine. I strolled into a tattoo parlor that was filled with cool-looking people who were my own age and they threw a Natti Ice in my hand and the rest of the night was history. I'd found my crowd of single-serving friends. Total cost of the night: $1.99 for the new pants.

St. Augustine crew


Anonymous said...

I've been enjoying your blog, and like this post best so far. I just finished a 30-day cross-country trip by Greyhound and had the same experience of making a lot of wonderful, but very transient, connections. I made the same observation in a couple posts of my own blog.

Keep up the good writing and enjoy your freedom!

John Judy said...

Shannon and I find these single serving friends all the time in all the places we go for fun. Not to get all poetic about it, but I think the brevity of the relationship adds to it's intensity. That added intensity seems to put an added patina on the memories generated by the experience. While you may only hang out with these folks for a day or two, you tend to find yourself talking and laughing about those days years later.

It's kinda like wine. There's old reliable you drink all the time. You love it, it's easy, you'd hate to be without it for a day. You may not get excited about it, but it's integrated into your life and you like it that way.

Then there's the SUPER expensive bottle you find yourself lucky enough to get a chance to enjoy every now and then, usually on someone elses dime. You only spend a little time with it, and that's the point. You couldn't do it every day, and even if you could you wouldn't want to.