I am not good at making friends.
I have always been confident, but shy. Often, this gives people the impression that I am rude, aloof, or just disinterested. (Cho Cold quote-- "When you first started, I thought you were rude and just didn't want to be at practice. I kept thinking 'Why is that girl even here?'" Ha ha.) In reality, I like to observe people and get a general feel for them before I start spilling my life, or before they start spilling their own. I need to warm up to people before I feel comfortable making more than small talk. It's who I am, and I'm comfortable being quiet and observant; however, I usually like the people I meet. I just clam up a little bit and start to pull back.
As you might guess, I don't have a lot of acquaintances. My friends and I are as close as sweaty pads to an elbow and as close as branches on a family tree. In other words, my besties are derby sisters and family members. For the most part, I am fine with that. Still, sometimes I feel like I'm missing out when it comes to making new friends and meeting people. Two hours at a bout after-party just isn't enough time for me to make friends. I'm not big into dancing, and dive-bars with booths and conversation are more my thing.
So last night, I had a great time hanging out with Cho, Amyn, her husband Jason, and Ziggy at the TCR/Hattiesburg throwdown. It was also great to see Zoom Tang, Turbo Tyke, Bianca Bullet and Barbie. Though I don't hang out with the RSRD/Hub City girls often, I've come to respect and enjoy getting to know them. Bianca is super sweet, Zoom is freaking hilarious, Turbo is a-dor-a-ble, and Barbie is super cool.
Still, with gregarious teammates (and past teammates) like Quakes, Crush, and Saintly, I've often wondered if I would ever make friends with girls outside my league. In the diverse world of derby, I've had a difficult time finding girls who have anything in common with me, other than eight wheels and a bitch streak that saturates the South.
While the other girls dance it up at the after-parties, I often find myself outside, or in the corner on the phone with my sister or boyfriend. It's not that I am not having fun; I just feel out of my coffee shop, library, classroom, dive-bar environment.
Before our bout last season with Hattiesburg, Barbie approached me during warm-up and said "You like Bon Iver? My sister and I love Bon Iver! I didn't think that anyone who lived outside of rural Wisconsin knew about him." This instantly made me think she was really cool. I was so happy to have someone be friendly to me, and to have a similar interest. Later in the season, I had the opportunity to talk to Sigga Please after our home bout with Red Stick. Turns out we are both type one diabetics, and we both love Ryan Adams. I started thinking, "Hey, maybe there are girls outside of my team that I can bond with, even if I am shy."
I'm not saying I'm going to be best friends with everyone in derby who has something in common with me. However, I'm starting to feel more comfortable talking and hanging out with some of these girls. And you know what? It feels great to pull my nose out of a book and get to know some folks.
The strange thing (or maybe not so strange) is that I'm willing to put out pretty much anything about my life in my writing. It's my way of letting people get to know me, I suppose. (By the way? Have you bought my book? Nudge, nudge.) I have a feeling, though, that in addition to everything else, derby has assuaged a lot of my social anxieties. Having friendly acquaintances isn't a bad thing. There will be girls out there who have similarities to me. One of my goals this season is to open up a little more, and to be more active seeking out girls I can bond with.
Even if it's just over some obscure band from Wisconsin.