I really needed this weekend.
On Saturday, I drove down to San Jose to attend a library software conference. As I wandered around the beautiful Fairmont Hotel, I wondered why any of us go to conferences. Everyone there looked bored and slightly evil, like a convention of Star Trek baddies, except without the cool makeup and costumes. I didn’t really learn anything new, and people were physically unable to bring themselves to talk to me, which was unnerving in an already awkward situation.
After the conference, I headed to Stanford to see Ryan. Soon after I arrived, Wendy did too, and I was pleasantly surprised by David and Brina’s arrival, since Brina had been having car trouble and thought she couldn’t come down. Before we went to sushi, we invited Chatty and his co-worker Stiny (not his real name, but you have to know Homestar Runner references to understand why this is so funny). As Brina was driving us to the sushi place, we saw Chatty and Stiny walking down the street, so we yelled out the window at them. Twice. I was so giggly and full of energy, being around my friends, and it felt better than ever because I know I am finally relaxing around these people, and becoming unafraid to be myself.
We took up the entire sushi bar and I got to chat with Stiny a bit. He’s just as geeky as the rest of us, and soon he opened up and was joking around like we had all known each other forever. Much sushi was eaten, and sake was involved. Everything seemed so bright and I felt full of experience and contentment. I laughed harder than I have in a while, especially at Stiny’s pirate joke and at David’s “Speaking of Segways …”
I suggested Cold Stone Creamery for dessert, which became a unanimous decision rather quickly. I ordered my favorite, mocha ice cream with peanut butter and marshmallow creme mixed in. I could hardly believe how good everything felt; even the ice cream tasted better than I remembered it. After ice cream, we went to Ryan and Sam’s and played a card game. Sam came home and joined us after a while, and we all tossed Homestar references at each other and it felt like a real family of friends, the kind I’ve always wanted. I have it. It’s amazing. I was sad to see everyone go, but it was time for bed, and some people had long drives ahead of them. I crashed on Ryan and Sam’s floor, content.
Sunshine woke me up a few times, but each time I talked myself out of getting up with it, instead taking refuge in strange dreams about birds and vacations that were really jailtime. In the late morning, Ryan and Sam woke up, and we all decided on a place for brunch. It was an extremely popular place, so we had 45 minutes to kill before being seated, and we walked to a small farmer’s market nearby. I delighted in tasting the various fruits and veggies for sale, buying some perfect navel oranges and sweet peas as well as tiny red potatoes I have to figure out how to cook. Brunch was just as delicious; we shared a banana-pecan waffle, a lox scramble, and Eggs Louis between us. I felt lucky again to be with people who were perfectly comfortable stumbling into a conversation about personal boundaries and self-perception.
We were running short on time, so after dropping Sam off at a meeting, Ryan and I stopped back at the apartment so I could change into my TMBG shirt and grab my copy of McSweeney’s. We went across campus to see “McSweeney’s vs. They Might Be Giants”. What an incredible show. Dave Eggers and Flans gave a humorous introduction of the program, and then it began. Sarah Vowell read this amazing piece about American history, during which TMBG played “It Could Be Worse”. Then Zadie Smith read her story about the girl with bangs she once fell in love with, and TMBG followed up with “Bangs”. Finally, Dave Eggers read his short story about teenage boy lust and aspirations, and all I wanted to do was write write write and be up on that stage with them.
After the intermission, TMBG played a great, short set of some of my favorites. Ryan and I danced and bounced and sang along and every single thing that had ever bothered me about the world just melted away. No other band, no other music can affect this change in me. I really loved myself then, whereas the rest of the time I’m just figuring out how to like myself. I related this feeling to Ryan, explaining that my normal phobias — of people, of embarrassment, etcetera — disappear when I’m at a TMBG concert. Ryan suggested that I make my world one big TMBG concert.
What a damned fine idea.
After the concert, it was time for me to head back home. I was sad that it was over, but overwhelmingly content and excited about tomorrow night’s TMBG show, and about the rest of my life. Life is sad and sweet, absurd and imperfect, and it’s all just what it is. I need to stop tearing it apart so much and live it. Like this weekend.