The social scene at a calmer brain state is much more comfortable, but it’s also clear that my experience have been neither a mirage nor just “my problem”. Greeting someone and not being acknowledged, or trying without success to join a conversation, those aren’t subtle cues. That weird sensation of being in a group who pretended that I was not there was not an illusion. Now that I have a better assessment and some independent confirmation, I know I’m not crazy anyway.
I had a romantic idea of what friendship was, which is no more realistic than romantic ideas about sex. That’s especially true in a group that gathers in a neutral spot to share intentionally superficial good times. Even setting aside the explicit rejection and demotion lately, it’s clear I’ve made some ten-year mistakes and attributed importance to friendships that was entirely mine and not shared.
Discovering that I’m relatively unimportant to people I cared about a lot is disagreeable but at least liberating. I can dispense with a lot of tiring attempts to Do The Right Thing and Be A Good Friend and do as they do with me: enjoy them when they’re entertaining and avoid them when they aren’t. This is the meaning of friendship in the local dialect, which I mistranslated for my own reasons.
Replacing unavailable intimacy with overrated friendship was a necessary error. Even good friends aren’t family or lovers. As an outsider in a group that celebrated the no-obligations flexibility of coffee-house tables as an ideal, I wasn’t going to find too many of those friends anyway.
I’m still pretty upset about some of my discoveries lately, but not fatally. It’ll stop being important to me as time goes by. And fair weather isn’t a bad time to shoot the shit on a patio, with whomever shows up and decides I’ll do for an hour or two.
Failing that I can just leave the headphones on more often.