I went to a party on Saturday night. It was a graduation party for a close friend. The place was full of people munching on queso and chips, red cups full of icy Dr. Pepper and Coke. I grabbed a glass and filled it with ice and diet cherry chocolate Dr. Pepper, tasted it, and then immediately dumped it out.
I made small talk with a girl that I know pretty well. A few people came over and joined our conversation but I didn’t feel like talking. I didn’t feel like recapping my life. Telling people about where I worked or that I used to dance for the Mavericks. I didn’t want them to know that I had just bought a house or that I went to Stonebriar. I didn’t want to talk about how big I was or that I used to work out. I didn’t want to say “No, I never played football in college.” I wanted to go. I stayed for an hour and I watched people pose for photos. I watched their smiles, real, real, fake. I smelled insecurity and false confidence. I checked myself for arrogance, reminded myself to be humble.
In the past I would have made my way around the room. I would have made friends and small talk like a pro – it’s my special gift. I’ve never met a stranger. But not this night, nope, for some reason I wanted nothing more than to just get out of there. I didn’t want to get to know any of these people, I didn’t want to make any more friends.
I left. A nervous perspiration soaked the pits of my shirt and rivers of sweat were running down my spine. I was tired of chatting and pretending like I was having a good time. I wasn’t.
When I left I glanced quickly around the room. Here, I was a nobody. When I left, there wouldn’t be a void, I wouldn’t be missed. No one would ask after me. In the past this would not have been the case. I would have been the life of the party and I would have stayed until most everyone else had left. If I was bored, I would make something happen. If I was lonely, I would make new friends.
Driving away I was happy that people weren’t pulling at me asking me to stay. No one pleaded with me, “Don’t leave!” And that felt pretty good. I guess I’ve grown up a little, I’ve matured a lot.
The graduation party was for a friend, but that night I realized I’d graduated too.