A Quick Trip to Boston.
I went to Boston this weekend. I was in the city for almost exactly 24 hours. And I was on the train for something like half that. The east coast of the United States is a tiny bit larger than I thought. I love train riding, I really do. And spending six hours on a train in the morning to hang out with friends in the afternoon is not that big a deal. But – and I say this with love – I don’t think that we, as a nation, need all of Connecticut.
I went to Boston because that’s where this year’s Experimental Biology conference was, and I have a lot of friends who are experimental biologists. I don’t know how it happened. It just did. Don’t judge. I also have a friend in the math department at one of Boston’s several universities, and my collaborator from ECU, which is near enough to Boston for government work, came down yesterday for brunch.
I had a truly exceptionally wonderful trip. I was able to see a couple friends (SciTriGrrl and Katiesci) I hadn’t seen since the Great Chicago Tweetup 2012, and meet some new friends that I’ve known online for a long time, but hadn’t met in person until this weekend, like Doc Becca, who is just as beguiling in real life as you’d expect from her online presence. And Biochembelle, who does something in biochemistry I can’t even begin to pretend to understand and who is currently tweeting the hell out of Experimental Biology with the hashtag #EB2013. Go follow her.
I think what was truly remarkable about this trip was how comfortable I felt. If you recall my reaction to the Great Chicago Tweetup, you know how when I’m in social situations, I often kind of freeze up, and feel outside and isolated. It’s disorienting and I think it prevents me from making closer friends sometimes. I don’t know how to connect in the group, and so then when it’s time to interact one on one, I don’t know how to transition. As a result, I often fail to advance friendships simply because I don’t know what to talk about. I feel stifled and clumsy.
But on this trip, I had wonderful interactions with everyone. I got the chance to perambulate the Boston Commons with SciTriGrrl and it was comfortable and nice, like seeing a good friend. Which is exactly what it was. At dinner with a bunch of tweeps, I felt like I contributed and was a part of things. It’s a nice feeling. And it represents advancement from here I was a year ago. I like being a part of the crowd, and I’ve finally found a couple of crowds, in AA and in the online science community, where I belong.
And so posting this is now the cue to start feeling insecure and embarrassed and nitpicking every little thing I did that might have embarrassed myself. That’s part of my disease. My brain is constantly on the alert to drag me down, and tell me I’m worthless and useless and shameful so that I’ll isolate myself from other people, and despair, and drink and die. I used to just surrender to those feelings. There’s a perverse pleasure in feeling useless and ashamed. But I don’t let those fears and feelings rule me today. I acknowledge them. And then I look at the world again, and see it for what it really is. A place where I have finally, after half a life as an outsider, found a few places to call home.