This week has gradually improved. I'm actually kind of excited about a project I'm working on which I could scarcely even think about last week. I feel more like my old self. But I was explaining to Ash last night over drinks and a nice dinner, how I haven't felt settled down here. I was trying to come up with an analogy for my feeling. I chose this: it's like when you get on the bus, and there's a seat, but you don't take it because you're only going two stops.
Yesterday I bought a used bike. Most everyone rides bikes around Cambridge; the narrow, mostly one-way streets and passages of Cambridge's city centre are not very hospitable to automobile traffic -- not that I own or would venture driving an automobile here. I have one neatly tucked away in a private garage (finally) back in SF, about four miles from my house there, of course. Ah, San Francisco, its many delights and quirks.
Anyway, I bought a bike at a little shop on King Street, and the guy who sold it to me struck me as someone I could actually hang out with. Occasionally, rarely even, someone will strike you as "your own kind," know what I mean? Besides this one girl Ashley works with, the bike shop guy ("Laurie" -- a girl's name like Ashley's, an English tradition!) was the first person here to strike me as someone I could hang with, meet their friends, you know - befriend. Granted I haven't been trying very hard. I think between that unsettled feeling I described, and feeling like a complete cultural mental midget here, I just haven't really been myself enough to hit it off with anyone. I've never been one for putting up walls, but I've been a bit opaque with people here, and that's no way to make friends.
Laurie looked at me and asked, "you into ravin'?"
"Huh?" I asked, looking at my shoes.
"Oh - here, we call it ravin', going to clubs."
"Um, oh right," I said, in the dorky uncomfortable way I seem to have adopted here, which doesn't suit me. "I thought you meant ravens... the, uh, birds." He must have thought I was very very slow indeed.
Really, I haven't been socially inept like this since ninth grade, when Hot Babe himself Scott Churchman said to me outside the classroom, "howsitgoin?" And I looked at him, thinking, ohmygod he SPOKE to me, what do I say what do I say what do I say... and I eventually answered, "how's *what* going?" Phht.
In chatting with Laurie further, I eventually revealed that I actually love drum'n'bass but hadn't found anyplace to go in town.
"Ah, nah - Cambridge's crap," he agreed - and suddenly I felt like I had an ally!
He asked if I'd ever been into the record shop next door. "No, but I've heard some massive beats coming outta that place!" I exuded, finally becoming Susan.
"The guy who runs that shop is a dj. He knows what's going on. You go talk to him." Aha! Another ally. As I paid for the bike and left, I shook his hand, realizing that if I nurtured this, I could have a friend; and consequently, access to other potential friends. I left wondering, "Do I want that?"
Let me interject here to say, I love my bike! It gets me places in a third the time of walking. It makes me pant and feel strong. And, it's a small-scale introduction to the workings of English traffic... I stick to small streets with very little automobile traffic, but still have intersections and turns and rights-of-way. I'm starting to feel more like if I had to, I could drive a car here.
My new (used) bike is a faded pale frosty green color, and I've named it "Pea Soup." I name everything: every car I've owned, every computer that's been mine in truth or in purpose. I've always been jealous of my friend Gina, who worked for ZDNet as a sysadmin. She got to name all the new servers that came in. So the bike's Pea Soup, the ruby iMac is CandyApple, the G4 at home is QuickSilver, and my new Palm Vx is, of course, "Rosie."
But I digress. Next week Gina and I are meeting in Frankfurt, for a driving trip around Germany and a jaunt to Moscow! I've never been to Russia, or eastern Europe at all, except for five days in Istanbul. I imagine it will be quite different from that. Moscow will be the third city I've visited which has treasures from the Byzantine Empire, and the art historian in me is very excited about that! After that Gina will spend a week with me here in Cambridge, and I know I'll see it all afresh while I'm showing it to her. I can't wait for that.
And so until the end of March I have an excuse: I can't make any new friends next week because I'm leaving for Europe for two weeks; and then, I'll be here with one of my "real" friends. I don't need you people!