I am a notoriously risk averse person. But that’s only on the outside. On the inside, I am an oneironaut leaping from one dream to the next, a seafaring explorer sailing to mythical lands and a heroine coaxing sphinxes to share their riddles. I am happy to wander quietly. Ecstatic to read in peace. Content to watch and participate minimally. As I’ve gotten older, I don’t like loud situations. Parties where the sound vibrates through the soles of your shoes overwhelms me. So it was quite a surprise when I found myself at a basement party earlier this week.
It felt like an unpleasant plunge back into college. There was awful beer and a dusty keg. A girl conducted symphonies from a washing machine. Sweat plastered my hair to my neck. There was the tell-tale reek of a stench that was once beer and someone’s dinner. To make everything worse, I had never felt so short in my life. But I blame this on an old knee injury that flares every time I wear heels. It’s quite possible that everyone was secretly short. (I know, I know, don’t tell me otherwise!)
After we left, I remembered thinking about how I could happily live my life without ever going to another basement party. Having put some days between me and the party, I don’t think this is true. I’m not dying to wedge myself between sweaty people/pretend that my red Solo cup is filled with beer/head-jam to lyrics like “BUBBLE BUTT, BUBBLE BUBBLE BUBBLE BUTT,” *BUT* (ha!) I think things that jolt you out of your comfort zone are positive.
This is true especially when it comes to our reading preferences. For some, reading Cormac McCarthy is the emotional equivalent to an uncomfortable throwback college party. For others, reading Ursula LeGuin is a boring evening spent catching up on your Twitter feed and drafting pithy replies. You don’t lose anything by venturing outside of your comfort zone. And it was weird to be reminded of that by, of all things, a keg stand.
Of late, I’ve been slogging through the same routine: get up, Twitter/Instagram, write, revise, Twitter/Instagram, read, read, coffee, coffee, read, coffee, Twitter/Instagram, write, write, write, revise, revise, revise and EAAAAAAAAT. In hindsight, I liked the weird discomfort of being at a party where I didn’t know anyone and had zero interest in any of the activities around me. It made me think. It made me engage. It made me leave feeling like I’d gathered some new setting or glimpse of something that may help me write later.
In short, it gave me perspective. And whether I liked it or not, any perspective is gold.
Read widely! Venture into the basement! You can decline the keg stand, but at least you can say you saw it.