Yesterday there was a large fundraising happy hour for a local Jewish organization, targeted at young professionals. It sounded like a fun time and a cool group, and there were over 100 people “attending” according to Facebook. So after weeks of being confined to my apartment and my office, with the occasional movie night with Kirios, I thought it would be fun to attend.
The day before, I made plans with a good friend to meet up after work and go together. But when I got to work yesterday, things were a bit more hectic than I had anticipated. I spent the whole day running around and rushing to prepare a briefing for the Postmaster General to use when he met with a Senator. (You’ve got to love DC jobs!) I usually leave the office around four (don’t hate me) and am home by five. I was planning to go home to change and grab something to eat before arriving casually late at the happy hour which started at 6 back in the city. But by the time I left my office and got to the metro, it was already a quarter to five. It was cold outside, and my commute involves a 15 minute walk from the metro. I knew that if I went home, it would be pretty darn hard to convince myself to go out again.
So I called up my friend to get her read on the situation. She had similar feelings. It sounded like fun, but it was so far to get to from our suburban homes. My other good friend who was planning to come cancelled out due to a last minute meeting. And let’s also not forget that there was a cover for the event. At the end of our call, my friend changed her tune and decided we should go. “Don’t go home; just hide out in a book store for a while or something.” I agreed. We had spent so much time talking each other out of it, when it sounded like fun and we should have been talking each other into it.
So I took the train over to the stop closest to the bar, and I popped into a Panera’s. I treated myself to a sandwich for dinner, and I opened up a novel I had recently started. Time passed slowly. It was dark and chilly and reading was making me sleepy. I wished I was at home in warm pajamas with a cup of tea. But finally, it was time to meet my friend at the bar.
The event was a big production. There were raffle tickets, sign up sheets, and tables to visit to learn about the prizes. They had set out snacks, and the crowd was growing quickly. We scoped out the prize table and entered a few raffles with the tickets that were included with our cover charge, and then we head over to the bar to grab some beer. And then we chatted. We caught up with each other and talked for a long time. She and I bumped into some acquaintances and said a few his with big smiles, every now and then. And we did spend a few minutes catching up with a good friend of mine from back in college, but for the most part, we stuck to ourselves.
The interesting part is that we’re both pretty extroverted people. My friend regularly plans programming for young professionals, bringing together a combination of friends and meeting new people. And I also love to bring friends together for a good time, hosting parties or going out for dinner or dancing. But these days I prefer to hang out on my own terms, rather than attending established events. I’m usually up for meeting new people and making new friends, but I suppose I don’t go too far out of my way to do it anymore. I guess because I’m in a relationship, I no longer feel pressured to “get myself out there” so I can meet “Mr. Right.” But I think that’s only part of the puzzle. After all, my friend is single, and she felt the same way last night.
Part of me feels like I’m an upperclassman again. This time, an upperclassman in young professional-ism. In my first year out of school and working in DC, I was like a freshman; I established a core group of friends pretty quickly – folks from college and other times in my life, along with a few new people we picked up at some early social events. We went everywhere. If there was a party, an event, even free food, we were there. I’m now in my third year of “real life,” and I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one of my “freshman friends” who’s been skipping out on happy hours and the like. There’s something nice about coming home, cooking myself dinner, and catching some TV after a day in the office. And as for being at a bar with hundreds of potential friends… well, there’s always the weekend!