Monday, April 5, 2010

No Appointment Necessary

College is very different from the "real world" we live in as adults. One of the things I liked best about college was having access to so many friends. It was considered acceptable to drop by a friend's room unannounced any time you had a reasonable expectation that they would be there and awake. I didn't have to call first or make an appointment. I could just show up, and that wasn't considered an invasion of my friend's space or privacy.

In the "real world" there aren't many people whom I can visit without calling first. In fact, until someone specifically invites me to his or her home, I can't visit at all. In college I could simply look my friends up on the directory and stop by their rooms, and that was OK. Not so in adulthood. There are stricter personal boundaries that must be observed. For the most part, I may interact with others only in mutually agreed upon times and places.

I understand the need for privacy. I really do. At the same time, I hate the walls that we build around ourselves to keep others at a distance. I like the spontaneous connections that remind me that other people are thinking about me. Once a friend of mine turned up unexpectedly while I was hosting a dinner for someone else. I had to turn my friend away because I was busy, but I'm not sorry he stopped by. In fact, I hope he does it again, because I'm certainly not going to be busy every time he shows up. I wish I could have more interactions with the people I love, even if they are fleeting. I wish I could stop by and say hello even if I can't stay. I wish that sort of thing wasn't so awkward.

This weekend I decided to give spontaneity a try. I am friends with two young couples who live very close to me, and both of them have invited me into their homes before. I found myself with a surplus of cupcakes, so I decided it would be OK to stop by their homes unannounced to offer them cupcakes. This experiment turned out marvelously. The first set of friends I visited were in the midst of cooking dinner, and they were quite happy to see me. We had a nice chat, and they told me I was welcome to stop by any time, especially when I had cupcakes to share. My friends at the second house had just taken a pizza out of the oven, and they invited me to stay for dinner. We called up my husband and asked him to join us, and they even called the friends I had visited first, and we all watched a movie together. Two spontaneous visits and some cupcakes turned into a very pleasant evening for six people, and it restored my faith in my ability to defy the rigid boundaries that society so often observes.

I know that I can't do this sort of thing with just anyone. I'm still going to limit these little visits to good friends who have invited me into their homes before. Although I may wish I could turn up anywhere with happiness to share, I know I have to work within basic social norms so that I don't make people uncomfortable. I want to have contact with others without alarming them, so I have to take it slow. Still, I am so lucky to have friends like the ones I visited on Saturday night. These are people who are OK with me stopping by unannounced, people who were willing to share their time (and even their pizza) with me. Friendships like those are one of my greatest goals in life, so sometimes a little thing like an evening with friends can make all the difference.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I totally know what you mean! I miss that aspect of college life too. For what it's worth, you can drop by at our house. The only reason calling first is wise is that we might not be there. Anyway, glad your spontaneity worked out well - I too have visited neighbors with treats (cookies) with success. :) -Ingrid

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