I love it when interesting people stumble into my life. After an initial flurry of – ooo – two or three people, whom I met in the first few months of being in Dubai, I then spent a good few years yearning for more of them to cross paths with me and become my friends.
And whilst I bemoaned the fact that I didn’t have much in the way of social stimulation I can honestly say that I didn’t have a whole lot of opportunity. The first year we were in Dubai I was studying, so I had plenty of time in the day to meet people. But it didn’t work like that. I found it very hard to just ‘make friends’ with people, for starters, because I couldn’t find anything in common with most people I met. Because I didn’t have kids, I was dismissed by those that did, and because I didn’t work in an office, I was dismissed by those that did. And I dismissed them too. They weren’t interesting to me, and I started to think I didn’t fit into anyone’s world. I was bored and I was boring.
In my second year here I started work as a teacher. I didn’t have a huge pool of co workers to get to know, nor the time to spend getting to know them. Most of my days were spent in the company of twenty under-5s, and whilst they are interesting in their own way I wasn’t exactly going to be drinking buddies with any of them. After that I gave birth, and I think anyone who has done the same can say, hand on heart, that it saps all the ‘interesting’ out of you for a good chunk of time. Meeting people who make your brain come alive is only relevant if you haven’t had all of your little grey cells burned up by sleep deprivation and shitty nappies. I was irrelevant to my old teacher chums and although I met a few new mums once I had the baby, most fell by the wayside as our kids got older and we found we had less and less in common.
But when my son turned a year old, he wasn’t the only one to take the first baby steps towards independence. Upon realising that my life probably wasn’t anywhere near as awful as I made it out to be, I realised that my angst and anger at being stuck in a foreign land with a small baby and no friends really needed to be channelled into something more positive. So I went back to my roots, and joined a drama class, where I finally found the energy to be me again.
That was two years ago. The people I met in that class went from being a bunch of misfits I vaguely knew the names of, to being my friends who I can count on to have an interesting and entertaining time with whenever we meet. The class gave me confidence in myself and my ability, and has led to more and more involvement performing and learning with an ever expanding group of people who inspire me to be great. It allowed me to think again, and to celebrate the weirdo in me that had got lost in a sea of conformity somewhere along the journey into expatriateworld and mummydom.
Once the juices were flowing, it made me want to do more. I began to write again. And six months ago, I joined twitter to boost my reader numbers (because as any blogger knows, the stats page is the most important one of all, especially if you thrive on being the centre of attention like I do). And now I have friends who I have made through blogging and twitter, because we write, and we like how each other write, and although I don’t know them terribly well, I have begun to put my trust in the theory that if someone can make me ‘feel’ with what they write, or say, or how they act, that they are ‘my kind of person’. They become interesting. They become my friend.
I had assumed a rather old-fashioned definition of ‘friend’ up until this year. I was searching for people to replace the ones I left behind. It took me a long time to realise that they can’t be replaced, nor do I want them replaced. But now when I think of all the interesting people I have met through being a little more creative, and a little less judgemental and proud, I realise my life is the fuller for it. And if I really think about it, all the friends I left behind came from the same place – they too were once a bunch of misfits in a rehearsal room who over the decades, have become my family.
I have been doing a lot of reading lately, of books and blogs, in preparation for my MA and to improve and invigorate my work onstage. I find increasingly that these two ‘careers’ of mine overlap, and intertwine, so that my life is slowly becoming fluid again, and instead of wearing many hats in a day to try and fit in with everyone else, I find my world as a mother, wife, friend, and ‘creative person’ is about life fitting in with me. The two things I loved doing in life twenty years ago – writing and theatre – have once again become central to my life today. And life – mine and my family’s – is all the better for it.
People thrive on different things to get them through life. How I keep forgetting, and how I only just figured this out again, is beyond me. I have the attention span of a fly, clearly. But in my life, being busy doing creative things is key. If I am not creative, I am not inspired. If I am not inspired, I am not interested. If I am not interested, then I am bored. If I am bored, then I am thoughtless, and lonely, and sad. And right now, I am horribly, smug-tastically happy with my life, which is full to the brim with busy all of a sudden, doing all the things I love, surrounded by people who make me smile. Which can only mean I’m getting it right.