Saturday, October 18, 2008

An Evening Out... That Made Me Appeciate My In

It was a night of food and laughter, fun and atmosphere and, of all things, writerly thoughts and inspirations...

It began as the descent of eight sassy, giggly women upon Texas Roadhouse. Salads, steaks, onion blossoms and baked sweet potatoes soon covered the table. Easy conversation was traded much like the food; satisfaction came with divulgence and indulgence.

After eating, we decided against a movie: You can't very easily gab and trade secrets at the theater. So, up for social ambience and adventure, we took our party to a country line-dancing bar. After all, what says fun like the Boot Scootin' Boogie? (Shh... don't tell anybody... but I can think of a few things...)

We danced very little, instead telling stories and people-watching. We staved off the friendly advances of a middle-aged cowboy and the barmaids offering shots, and watched a man whip himself silly with elaborate turns. We found ourselves endeared by two "grannies," one of whom may someday make it into my fiction, who scooted as well as the rest of 'em. (I couldn't help conjuring the one woman's "story": to my mind she was a one-time heart patient who discovered line-dancing to be great and fun exercise; something to keep her heart healthy and joyful.)

As I watched a few women dance with no inhibitions - totally caught up in the music and movement of their bodies, not caring about anything but the happiness dancing gave them - I realized we all have our element. I'm completely out of mine in places like that; I'm too shy and self-conscious to enjoy myself in an open and social way. But I could liken what those women were feeling, how at ease they were, with my experiences in the writing world. That's my element, the one that beckons to me. Writing is a solitary world, an immediate world I so crave, but one that allows networking through the filter of the internet. I can be my true self with words and creation, socializing through an online shield that bolsters my confidence. While I occasionally enjoy a bar setting for a change of pace and scene (and that people-watching thing), it's nice to, at the end of the night, know where I best fit.

What's your element? Where do you best fit?


Joanne said...

I'm with you, Janna. I like the more intimate environments, at a coffee shop with my daughters, Barnes & Noble with a friend, walking and talking. Shopping. And always chatting with my blog friends. There's an easiness to all this that fits into my life.

Anonymous said...

Very nice post, and I like your new profile pic. :)

I can enjoy the solitary writerly world, I love gabbing with my online friends, and enjoy a quiet environment. I also enjoy going to dance clubs (maybe not country) and shaking my booty. However, I do feel overwhelmed at parties with over 8 people. That is when I become the wall flower and find a quiet corner to watch everyone else mingle. I am also less likely to walk up to people and chat with them. I am not very good at small talk. So it is helpful that I am married to a social butterfly. He pulls me out of my shell now and then. :)

Oh.. and I should add. I don't like talking on the phone. I always tell people to email me.

Melanie Hooyenga said...

What a great night. I think I fit in best out on that dance floor, as long as it's salsa and not country (although I do like country music). You nailed it when you described the joy I feel when I'm twirling beneath the lights, trusting that my partner won't slam me into another spinning couple. Pure elation.

You also reminded me of Ralph. Ralph was a fixture in the Chicago salsa scene long before I learned the basics. He could be found several times a week at the various salsa clubs - hitting on ladies decades younger than him and showing them his moves - until his death last year at the age of 96. When he died the entire salsa community came together to give him a send-off he would have loved - a salsa party in his honor.

Linda Hoye said...

I'm a coffee shop girl as well. I am definitely not very comfortable in a large noisy crowd.

P.S. Love your new picture, Janna

Barb Davis said...

I've experienced a lot of different environments in my lifetime-- even the combative and vocal political stage, but I always come back to the quiet, private woman I was born to be. I believe that I have come full circle and now appreciate and value that part of myself.

Janna Leadbetter said...

How exciting that this post resounded with you gals!

Joanne - You expressed that well in terming them "intimate environments." Perfect.

Turkey - I'm the same way with the phone, and often operate better through e-mail. Misterwrites, too, balances me out that way. :)

Melanie - I think it's awesome you're comfortable out there. Kudos!

Looking back at high school, I've always said I'd try to be more uninhibited. But even when I have the chance - like last night - I just can't break out of my shell. And I think this post is my declaration that I'm finally okay with that. ...And Ralph sounds awesome. RIP.

Linda - I'm all about the coffee shops! :) And thanks for the kind compliment.

Barbara - How wonderful you've been through the whole gamut and find yourself at your most comfortable. I think that's exactly what it's about: coming to terms with our real self and embracing it.

Anonymous said...

I feel the intimate environment is always there inside yourself, awaiting your acknowledgement, when you realise just how appreciative you are of everything.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Well said, Ana. :)

Angie Ledbetter said...

I like a big group of my writing friends or family, or school-related pals, but I'm most comfy in my scrubs in front of my keyboard.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I thought I was the only one with the phone phobia! I can totally understand where you're coming from. My sister, for example, loves to Karaoke but last time I went with her I spent half the time standing outside the bar because I couldn't stand the noise and the crowd inside. Then I went inside and ticked off my sister by engaging in the people watching you mentioned and actually pulling out my notepad to jot down a few sentences.

On the other hand, in more intimate situations I can talk and socialize with people no problem.
I like small group discussions. I like it when I can really get to know someone better rather than just exchanging comments on the weather. I think sometimes I want life to abide by the same rules as fiction: Leave out the boring parts.

Rachel Burton said...

Now I'm craving a good girls night out, complete with booty-shaking! I love hanging out with a good group of friends... and the occasional foray onto the dance floor. But I also love curling up with my husband and having a reading date. It depends!

Joshua said...

i feel at home with other nerds and nice guys......the movie theater :)

colbymarshall said...

In the theatre, definitely. I always feel like I'm with my second family.

Anonymous said...

Glad you had a fun time with your girlfriends. People watching is always fun!

Melody Platz said...

I belong to a church choir made up of about seven or eight families. We sing a lot of folk music and everybody, kids and adults alike, bop around to the music and tell silly jokes. I'm almost as comfortable there as I am in my living room, the only things that are missing from the family choir are my pajamas, my boyfriend and my computer.

Melody Platz

Janna Leadbetter said...

Angie - I'll have to get me a pair of scrubs, now that you mention it. I once had some hand-me-downs from an uncle in the medical field, and those puppies were so comfy to sleep in. They were a bit softer than I think today's scrubs are made from, though.

KS - That sounds like me! I didn't whip the notebook out, but I could have. :)

Rachel, it's great you're able to enjoy the two extremes!

Josh, you rock. And that's all I'll say about that. :)

I wondered if you'd say "on stage" or something similar, Colby. I think that's uber-cool!

thedomesticfringe - It was seriously one of the best nights I've had in a long while, simply for the food and company. We all need such outings. :)

I know what you mean, Melody. There's nothing like a church family, who accepts you just as you were meant to be.

Anonymous said...

I'm comfortable within small crowds where I can be myself. I need to be around people who can appreciate a funny joke but also just be dorky like me. Solitary is always nice when a keyboard is handy, but I don't think I'd like to be in a large club either.

Nice new profile pic also.


Travis Erwin said...

Oh, I can do some damgae at Texas Roadhouse.