Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.
I start, as always, with the disclaimers: I’m frankly not all that social a person. I mean, I like hanging out with people, don’t get me wrong. Especially a core group of people with whom I can really sit down, unwind, and talk. But that core group of people just isn’t that large; for somebody who’s been blabbing about god knows what all here on this blog for a shocking eight and a half years, I have a hard time really talking with people I don’t know terribly well, even when they’re people I really like and want to know better.
Somebody told me once that the deepest difference between introverts and extroverts has to do with the flow of energy during social events: extroverts take energy from those events, while introverts feel drained by them. And the latter, c’est moi.
I love a good party, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that what I usually do at a party is sit down in a corner with a drink and a couple of people I really like; people come and go from that cluster, but I tend to stay put. This is particularly true at large parties; at a smaller gathering where I know everyone fairly well, I’m a bit more mobile.
Anyhow, there have been several such social gatherings over the last year that stand out in my mind: a dinner out with a cluster of superawesome women in DC; a number of one-on-one drinks with friends both in SoCal and New York; the Thanksgiving dinner to end all Thanksgiving dinners at a friend’s a couple of weeks ago.
But the one I keep going back to in thinking about this question is kind of an outlier. A small group of senior faculty, all of whom I really like, but several of whom I just don’t know all that well, took me and a pal of mine out to celebrate the successful conclusion of our promotion reviews. It was the very end of the spring semester, the bitter end, for at least a couple of us, and everyone present was feeling a little hysterical, in both the literal and the figurative senses of the term. There was a lot of booze. There were garlic fries. There was a firepit. And there was a no-holds-barred hashing out of the kinds of interpersonal and political business that you don’t often get the chance to discuss openly, except with one or two chosen allies.
It sounds dry, I know: you went out and drank and talked about work stuff. Woo!
But it was enormously important for me, in declaring an official end to a process that had left me really embittered, in marking the opening of the summer and sabbatical ahead, in having new colleagues among the senior faculty welcome me into that group.
Here’s looking forward to more similar gatherings — and more parties at which I can hole up in a corner with a pal — in 2011.