When I read Huckleberry Finn in college, my professor said that even though Huck says he hates people and he wants to be out roaming around, he’ll actually be happy with whoever shows him love. I’ve read Huck fewer times than I’ve read Tom, but I identify a lot more with Huck. Tom is a dreamer and a romanticist. He wants the treasure hunts and the grand adventures. Huck is a pragmatist and a realist. He wants to survive and to be happy.
I’m going to be shallow here (shallow because Huck’s story deals with really deep things like human equality) and focus on the family that got massacred in a feud with their neighbors. Huck isn’t accepted by the people in his hometown because of who his father is, but the Grangerfords treat him like one of their sons. They don’t know anything about him, but he becomes like a brother to Buck. When the family is taken away from him, he resumes his journey like he didn’t care about them, but he loved being accepted.
I’ve always been happy with a book and wifi. I didn’t really make any good friends until I went to college. Sure, there were people who knew who I was and asked how I was doing, but they weren’t the kind of people I’d call up on a Friday night and be like, “Hey, let’s go see a movie,” or “Let’s do lunch tomorrow.” As a kid, all my friends were boys, and I moved right when it became awkward to talk to them. I didn’t know how to talk to girls (I hadn’t met very many who liked me), so for five years I just drifted through those “Hey, how are you? Fine.” relationships. I didn’t learn how to talk to girls until I had two of them as roommates, and four more in the other half of the suite. Seven girls in one bathroom? You learn how to talk to each other.
And then my trip to Japan happened. For the first time, I experienced rambling midnight conversations, hours of discovering that I actually had opinions about things I don’t normally think about. This was weird for me because I don’t consider myself to be very opinionated. (Maybe I am. I’m pretty sure there’s a universal law that opinionated people don’t know they’re opinionated.) Obviously, I do have opinions, but I rarely think any of them are worth arguing about or even stating.
Since I had graduated, I went home after Japan. Home where everyone was dating someone, where the girls were too consumed with their boyfriends to talk, and the boys were too loyal or suspicious. And then there was single little me. I’m still single. I spent a long time wishing I had a boyfriend so that I didn’t have to try new things alone.
But last week, I went downtown by myself for the first time–and I survived. I joined a writing group last fall, and we’ve started hanging out outside of workshop. It’s been so refreshing to be around people my age who love what I love and do what I do. And there’s so many of us that even though we were brought together by one thing (writing, predominantly speculative fiction), everyone brings something unique that’s new to the others. And I love that, because developing new obsessions is so much more fun when you’re not doing it alone.
It’s still so weird to me. I have friends. Not just one or two, but a group big enough to occupy half a Jittery Joe’s. Is it sad that I’m almost 25 and this is the first time I’m realizing how much fun it is to have friends? That these people aren’t just temporary entertainment? I have such a phobia about friendships being transient.
Maybe that’s why I’m so restless.