I’ve been at the library for about four hours now. So have the other three people at my little desk clump. That’s how our library is set up at App State – in these weird little clumps of desks with four computers on them. There’s frosted glass dividing the table into four separate compartments, but it’s still a pretty weird scenario. I mean, I’m basically sitting right next to these people.
Right now, I’m trying desperately to turn a word-for-word transcription into a full, colorful, entertaining article. For some reason, when I was transcribing, I thought it’d be a good idea to keep the dialect intact. So I’m also trying to decipher the instances of an’ for and, the gase for gas, the knowed for knew. I’m trying to keep this personality intact without being condescending and that is massively difficult.
The girls next to me are writing papers, I think. Maybe they’re studying. I don’t really know. I know all these intricacies of my own life and my own efforts, and I know nothing about them. Well, that’s not true. I do know some things.
I know that one of them is going home this summer and only found a subleaser at the last minute. I know what they did for spring break and what they’ll be doing tomorrow night. I know they like cinnamon cappuccinos. I know they’re better than I am at segueing in and out of conversations, at seamlessly switching their focus from socializing to studying. I know that they have an odd penchant for wearing club makeup and Snookie poofs in the library. I’m not judging, honestly. They look a lot nicer than I do in my hoodie and…I don’t even know what you’d call my hair right now. A Juno thrown-up bun, maybe?
I’m pretty sure they know a lot about me, at this point. I’ve been fielding phone calls all night – not because I’m in high demand, but because I’m in the library. Murphy’s law is alive and well and that’s the way things work. No one calls you when you’re mind-numbingly bored at your solo dinner or between classes; they call you when you’re in the library and answering a call will make people glare at you.
Anyway, though, I’ve been getting calls all night. These girls might know that I have way too much to do this week and I’m almost hysterically stressed. They might know that I accomplished something I’m proud of this week, and that a couple of important people in my life called me with kind comments that required profuse thanks. Profuse for the library table, anyway. They might know that I’m a procrastinator and they might know that I’m not good at making phone calls discreetly. They might know that I prefer smoothies to coffee and, if they’re particularly discerning and make judgments on how fast something’s slurped down, they might know that I found the wildberry guava flavor particularly delicious.
We know all those little things about each other, but we will probably never talk to each other. If we do, it’ll be courtesies – a bless you, maybe, if one of us sneezes. We’ve shared this table all night and, if we’d shared it with people we knew, we would have talked to them. Why do we do that? What kind of qualifier is that – that I have to know you to talk to you, or to be invested in what happens to you? Isn’t everyone interesting, whether we know each other or not? I’m not saying I’m different or that I want to strike up a conversation with these girls. My introverted, INFJ self is wrinkling its nose and raising its eyebrows at the absurdity of that thought. I’m not a casual communicator. I care, but I don’t express that care face-to-face.
All of this reminds me of an Emerson quote I saw once: “Let us treat men and women well, treat them as if they were real. Perhaps they are.”
I read that on the profile of a Facebook friend. It made me feel connected with her, helped me understand more about her. But I doubt we’d ever discuss Emerson in person.