As I sit here reading The Lovely Bones and crying, my glasses now speckled with dried tears that I can never clean off until I run them under water or something, I can feel myself slipping into my old reading habits, habits that I haven’t really had since Harry Potter in high school. Even when I was reading Lolita, definitely now one of my favorite books ever that I need to buy one day, I didn’t feel the same as I feel now (and I suspect this is because I was reading it during school, near the end of the semester even). Even with The Joy Luck Club, which I finished recently, I was interested and I loved it, but I wasn’t as deep into it as I am with TLB now.
I’m talking Harry Potter-level reading, or books I used to finish in just a few days reading, reading that I certainly haven’t felt in years. I’ve already cried at least three times with this book — and everyone knows it’s not rare for me to cry at anything, but with books, I haven’t cried since HP and the Deathly Hallows came out in 2007. I’m only in chapter three, and I’ve cried hard. It’s not really the whole “family member’s death” thing, either; with my dad, it was a slow process, one we knew was coming to an end, and with my grandmother, the same thing. But in TLB (spoilers but not really) the main character is murdered. So it’s a sudden and untimely death at the age of fourteen, and not something I can relate to directly other than “my roommate’s best friend’s brother died in a car accident.”
But something about the way it’s written or how intriguing I find the story and characters (despite finding Lolita very intriguing) makes me revert back to my bookworm days. By “bookworm” days I mean being quiet for hours at a time, not caring about talking, immersed in the book with occasional interruptions to check the internet (something I suspect with this book will even lessen, which I’m sure is hard for my mom to believe). I wouldn’t be surprised if I finished this book before school starts or at least soon thereafter (as I’ll be hanging out with some people this week and that will make it harder to read, obviously — and that’s fine, since they’re my friends). But maybe this quiet phase has been coming for a while.
The other night at work, cleaning up after the Disaster of Inventory, Rondell and Vaughn turned the corner to aisle five (where I was) and Rondell said, “Whoa, Christina’s so quiet, I forgot she was here.” I laughed and they went about their business and I mine. But I got to thinking, and it’s been years since I’ve heard that. I have no idea why people don’t think I’m shy when I know I am. My roommate says I’m not shy all the time, but she’s definitely mistaken. And that’s not to say that I don’t come off as outgoing to her, because I spoke to her first and am quite talkative. But I think someone can be talkative and shy. Once someone knows me, I’m talkative. But it’s hard for me to talk to someone first, it really is. College has helped me come out of my shell some, but I’m still not a social butterfly, nor do I think I ever will be.
I remember the first time someone ever commented on my quietness past “you’re so quiet.” It was sophomore year in high school, and Jared Barton, who had been in my English class class the year before, said something like, “Why don’t you ever talk in class anymore? You never shut up last year, now you’re all quiet.” It wasn’t meant to be rude or anything, but it was strange to me, because I didn’t remember talking that much in class. Now I answer stuff in class a good bit of the time and I’m not shy about class participation if I can do so without feeling like a dunce (although I do often have those “oh god I sounded like an idiot then” moments), so maybe that’s what he meant. And I AM talkative with friends, as friends can attest to.
But, honestly, I’ve missed “being quiet.” Part of it has to do with the fact that people find it necessary to ask, “Is something wrong?” when a person’s quiet. That question makes me so angry, and I know whoever is asking the question means well, but I just want to snap back, “I just don’t want to talk, youwannafightaboutit?” (that’s a link by the way). I feel like Charity is much more talkative than I am, and while we both interrupt silence to laugh about something or show one another something related to our mutual interests/fandoms/what have you, in general she starts conversations way more than I do (at least I feel this way). And that’s fine, it really is. And I love talking, just not all the time.
Honestly, I hate that so much of my job entails actually interacting with customers, making small talk that’s not cliché or that is cliché but you have to ask or say something because you can’t just stand there in silence waiting on the first debit/credit card receipt of the day to take its sweet time printing, because that’s ‘socially awkward.’ I’d rather have it that way, honestly. And that’s probably why I have what my psychologist called “social withdrawal.” It doesn’t mean I like a person any less because I don’t want to talk that day — it simply means I don’t want to talk, or be social. Don’t ever take it personally if I’m “abnormally” quiet. I love to joke, laugh, have fun, talk, whatever — you all know this. But sometimes, I want some “not gonna talk” time. Unfortunately, I guess as one gets older, there’s less of that time.
I wonder sometimes, too, how much of this came from me being an only child? Of course I had friends and of course I had my parents, but more often than not, I entertained myself through video games (before the world of online multiplayer) and board games and TV and reading — god knows, tons of reading. And none of these are really conversation-required activities.
But, no matter what it’s a result of, it seems like I’m starting back into my social withdrawal stage, and honestly, I don’t feel like it’s a bad thing or something I need to immediately adjust my medication to prevent. I don’t feel it’s a “depression thing” or an “I need to get my thyroid checked” thing (although I do, but that’s beside the point). I think it’s a “this is really who I am, and I really value my alone time” thing.
Sometimes, I like being left to my own thoughts and imagination.
“Feels good, man.”