Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Broadening My Horizons

            For a brief introduction, I am in many ways your stereotypical 27 year old while male immersed in the social ways of suburbia and private education.  While I have left my comfort zone on occasion, most notably on a service trip to rural Mississippi during high school, southern country clubs would blush at the lack of diversity in most of my previous interactions.
With equal parts laziness, cautiousness, and the fact that I am many ways a simple person that can easily exist talking sports, sitcoms, and drinking beers with buddies, I never thought too much about the fact I live in my comfort zone as much as possible.  However, I hope and expect there to be more to me then just this simple caricature.
Now, this is by no means a knock on any of my close friends and I assuredly cherish their friendships and all of the time spent together in the past and hopefully future.  I may strongly disagree with some of their political and social stances, but at the same time try to embrace our common interests and not argue over the differences.  While a good part of me wishes I could sway their beliefs on some key issues, I also respect the fact that there will be differences and that everyone needs to be their own person.

Getting that introduction out of my way, the first experience that inspired this posting comes from a chance meeting on Halloween weekend.  With my Halloween plans in flux as usual, I ended up contacting my man Vinnie and took up the invitation to hit his friend Maggie’s place in the city.  Initially meant to be a way to start my evening while another group of friends got their Halloween hi-jinks out of their system, it turned to be a fun and enlightening discussion with the type of people I rarely interacted with in the past (even though I share many of their beliefs).

After that great time, I was very happy to find out that everyone from this group would be joining the usual cast of characters at our annual Friendsgiving event.  In particular, it was fun getting to further know Colleen and her good friend Mike, a quiet but thoughtful person that added a lot the festivities and our discussions when he decided to contribute.

This brings us to the main inspiration to this post, an awesome New Years Eve experience that I thoroughly enjoyed, even if my energy level may have been a few levels lower then normal.  Exhaustion from five weeks of working overnights, lack of sleep, and a very sore left knee thanks to my clumsiness hitting the ice hard on Wednesday night (and I apologize if I reeked of menthol from Icy Hot patches on my knee to help ease the pain) hit hard once the initial adrenaline and excitement wore off.  Still, even if my demeanor may not have indicated it at times, I indeed greatly enjoyed myself and the event certainly surpassed my high expectations (awesome job for everything Maggie).  

To add some depth to my ramblings here, I want to share a quick anecdote from my man Vin right before we entered the party.  Knowing my tendency to be unfiltered in expressing my thoughts and casual use of poor/hurtful language at times, Vin gave me a heads up that there would be a diverse cast of characters here, from sexual orientation, gender, and race.  Honestly, I was very happy to here this and expected nothing less.

That my reaction there came naturally is certainly not cause to celebrate, and it is admittedly not the same reaction I would have had at earlier points at my life.  While I strive to be open minded and accepting of anyone and everyone (and shape my beliefs about issues to be based on that line of thinking), I have unfortunately not always been that way.  

In my younger years, I could be kindly described as an ignorant bastard that frequently used hurtful language, even in the company of people that would be rightfully offended by my lack of care and tact.  I believe that I have matured over the years, and thankfully advanced past that inadequate line of behavior and thinking.  Still, I need to acknowledge my past to help shed light on my experiences for why the experiences described here carry more meaning to me then just your normal fun time at holiday parties. 

Finally, I also must acknowledge that the atmosphere on New Years Eve was certainly fun and festive, with unfiltered thoughts flying and the atmosphere being the total opposite of stodginess.  I will always be someone that will speak his mind and joke around with people, especially when I have a good feel for the setting.  I really look forward to spending time with this group of people in the future, and I hope that I can make a semblance of the impact on their lives as they are starting to on mine.

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