Earlier this evening one of my friends who was involved in hosting a BBQ event at her house asked me if I was one of those people who liked to stay until the end of the party. She’s an observant person, and I answered that this was my general habit, and asked if she was as well, to which she replied that her family usually liked to leave early (which doesn’t surprise me either). Of course, at some point in the future, this young woman will have to find out if she is the kind of person who likes to stay a long time with others (which does appear to be the case from what I have seen at least) or if she will prefer to leave early herself. There are a lot of reasons why I am the sort of person who stays at a party until the very end, and this personal tendency to linger long is not only a trait that I have at parties, and is one that has a rather deep and somewhat melancholy personal relevance.
Let’s take today’s party as an example of the sort of social event that I linger long at, though this applies to every single social event that I go to, as a general rule. I’m like the three year old in the back seat of a car who may feel tired but doesn’t want to fall asleep and miss anything. That’s the way I am at a party or social event; I feel that if I leave early I’ll miss some of the fun I have from being around other people. Having spent nearly my entire life as an outsider wherever I have been (I honestly don’t think there are too many places where I am really an insider, sadly), those opportunities I have had to enjoy time spent with others, especially where good food and good conversation can be found, have been those I take and hold on to. This is a habit that many people might not recognize quickly, or they may ascribe it to being around certain people in particular, but this is a general social habit of mine that I have noticed for a long time.
This habit is not only a habit at social events like parties, but a habit at church and work as well. I’m generally someone who has a hard time leaving an event and separating myself from others and what I am doing, but once I am gone I go about my business. Nevertheless, it is not an unusual sight for me to leave work after a long day, and as long as I have nothing pressing, to stand and talk to coworkers for half an hour more in the parking lot before finally leaving. While most people would probably want to leave work and get as far away from it as possible once they clock out, I tend to view it as one of those social activities that helps provide me with the personal interaction that I need to feel content and happy, aside from its purposes in helping to provide for my material well-being.
To be sure, there have been times in my life where leaving a bit earlier might have been wise, or where my tendency to linger around has been misinterpreted, or has ended up making my life more complicated than it really had to be, but it is, so far as I know, a very deep part of my own personality and is something that has remained consistent from my youth. Some aspects of the tendency relate to the fact that I grew up in a family that was pretty sociable and that tended to have responsibilities that led to arriving at church early and leaving late and loving long time spent over food with spirited conversations with friends and relatives. In some ways, then, this habit of mine can be connected to a pattern of family behavior that I picked up on from my youth and that is tied to all kinds of conditions in my family relating to sociability, a love of food, as well as devotion to service in whatever institutions we find ourselves in.
In many ways, though, this sociability comes with a melancholy edge. That edge is that I tend to find my life in general to be a lonely one. In some ways, this loneliness is the natural result of having a rich internal life of thoughts and feelings that I find it difficult to express fully, even with all of the writing and talking that I do. A large part of that loneliness comes from the lack of affection and intimacy in my life, a problem that I hope for as long as it has lasted that it is a temporary one and not a harbinger of the way that I can expect my life to go for decades to come. I wasn’t really made for the sort of loneliness that lasts forever and that casts a gloom on life year after year after year. While I hope I never end up being that gloomy on a consistent basis, it would be nice to see some success in that aspect of life, so that if I am social it is because of my love for people and not out of frustration over the loneliness that makes up the background noise of life. Only time can tell, though.