Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Indulging my inner introvert

At the end of August, I went to five major league baseball games: two in Kansas City, two in St. Louis and one in Cincinnati. I saw Zack Greinke strike out fifteen, Albert Pujols hit a walk off home run, dazzling double plays and diving catches, and throws to the plate that nailed the runner. I enjoyed every minute of every baseball game, even though I had never been to any of these ballparks and I didn’t know anyone there.

And since arriving in Providence I’ve been wholly content to wander the streets of this old city and settle into my apartment, speaking to nary a soul. Full disclosure: I have not been all alone in this transition, as my mom was excellent company on the trip here and I have a few friends here. But I have relished – on the cross-country trip and in the time that I have been here – all the time I get to spend alone.

Being in a strange place, I don’t listen for my name. I don’t eavesdrop on conversations. I don’t run into anyone I know. No one asks me anything. No one needs anything from me.

In the last couple of years, I coped with the constant interruptions by reminding myself that it was an unavoidable part of my job. And when someone came in my office I would take a deep breath, preemptively calm myself, and give what I hoped was my full and resentment-free attention. But purging the resentment did not come naturally; it was an act of will.

I am an introvert who gives a good impression of being an extrovert. That probably makes me more extroverted than those who can’t play act enthusiasm for constant social interaction. But it wore me down over time. I was very glad to go home to a quiet empty house each night. And, during the work day, I was always acutely aware of the distance between what made me most comfortable and the role I was expected to play.

And so, here in Providence, I am happy to indulge my inner introvert. I promise I will not hole up in my little apartment for all of the next year. But I hope I’ll be excused for enjoying the peace and quiet as long as it lasts.

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