Hey! It’s me! I talk a lot about stepping outside your comfort zone, but I rarely actually do it. Sure, I quit my job and sure, I write a lot of stuff, but writing in the comfort of your own home is totally inside the comfort zone, you know?
So, last weekend, I went completely outside that zone. It was Friday night around 9:00 and I was tired of sitting home alone feeling sorry for myself. Writing is nice but it’s damn lonely. It really is. I can’t write when I feel lonely and I can’t write when I’m around other folks, so it’s a damn double-edged sword. I decided to go to a bar close to home–alone *gasp*. I’d had to travel for work and I was no stranger to being in a bar alone away from home, but I’d never done it close to home. I’ve no idea why. I just didn’t. So, I decided to practice what I preach and venture out amongst the humans to the Town Hall–the bar just blocks away form my house. I figured if it sucked, it was a quick ride home and if it went well, it was within stumbling distance home. So, screw it all. I went
I’d not been there ten minutes when I’d ordered my first beer whilst sitting next to Alex. I don’t know Alex, but I know when he got his drink, he yelled loudly, “Thank you very much. mutherfucker!” I smiled. Yes, I was happily amongst the humans. The bartender then asked me what I wanted and I told him, “Coor’s Light”. I know its not a real beer. Numerous folks have tried to convert me but alas, I prefer not to vomit, so I stick with my mineral water with an alcohol content. The bartender gestured to Alex sitting to my left and said, “sorry about him. He’s here a lot. Doesn’t speak much English.” Alex noticed this and said, “Oh sorry. They know me here.” I was still just smiling because these are what I consider to be real people. The people that will accept me in all my weirdness and not say a peep. I also dream of one day getting a beer at the bar and yelling, “Thank you very much mutherfucker!” without any judgment.
A few minutes into my Coor’s Light, a fellow came and sat beside me. Now, typical female reaction, we’re totally used to dudes coming and sitting next to us and making annoying small talk–only to hit on us, drug our drink, or do something completely objectionable. This dude didn’t do that! He complimented my teal sneakers and my fuschia sweater and asked what I was doing. We chit-chatted a bit and I told him I had escaped the comfort zone. He invited me to join him and his table of friends.
Now, I was a theatre major my first year in college and thank God for that experience. This dude was gay. Wonderfully, openly, unapologetically gay. And he was with a table full of friends that weren’t gay, but completely and unequivocally accepted and loved him as is. Being a small town North Dakota girl, I’d never seen this. Yeah, I went to high school with a guy who was gay and I loved him (still do), but back then, he didn’t know he was gay. He just spent years trying to fit in and was miserable until he got away from everyone and everything. So, to me, this was new. And wonderful. And life-affirming. This dude is only 27 and is an indication of how much the world has changed since that high school friend and I grew up. I know it’s silly to make a big deal of to some, but it is a big deal. I’m sure he thinks nothing of his courage because he’s always had unconditional friends…or maybe he hasn’t and just refused to compromise himself to fit into a made up world. Whatev, it was the best night I’d ever had and the most positive experience I’ve ever had stepping outside the comfort zone. And I thank him and his wonderful friends who accepted a strange 40-something hanging out with them because they respected his opinion of me. It had a pretty big impact on me and my faith in human beings. I needed that.