I know I'm not the only person who, given all other options, would rather stay home. My mother is the same way. We are also similar in that, when we are forced to go out and socialize, we usually have a good time. Still, there is the working up to it.
Scott and I are going out to dinner with another couple tonight. At a restaurant. We almost never do this. Not the restaurant part, but the going with other people and I find it endlessly bizarre. The whole time it feels as though I'm watching the whole thing. I can enjoy it, but I'm still sort of just watching it. I have no idea what causes this kind of social freakishness, but for me there are 3 forces at work. First, Scott and I didn't meet until we were both 46. We crave time together. In fact, it always feels as though we're making up for lost time. We've talked about what it would have been like to meet when we were 26 or 36 instead. Thank God it wasn't 76, or not at all. So there's that: not wanting to share our time with other people. I'd much rather be sitting on the couch with Scott in total silence than interacting with the outside world.
Then there's the summer. I get so used to not being in the classroom, and not having to see other people that I turn our house into a cocoon. I don't transition into a butterfly; nothing that elegant. I only turn into someone who can almost bear going back into the classroom after three glorious months without it. Without the angst of college students. Trust me, nobody gets the angst like someone who teaches creative writing. They pour out their wounds and their sorrows onto the paper as though into a big metal saucer sled, and I jump in for the whole semester and shoot down the slope until the end of the semester when I reach the village. I tumble off and am nursed back to health a la Three Cups of Tea. Instead of imaginary villagers, I'm rejuvenated by my books and my TV and the absence of people.
I love my job. I love reading about the real lives of my students, the ones behind the parties, the gazillion Facebook photos, the striving for acceptance. And I love helping them to unearth their real stories in their writing. I like to watch them become brave about sharing it in a workshop. It does, however, wear one out. Thus, the staying home as much as possible.
Force number three: I'm an introvert. Two hours of talking with another person means I need about six hours of total quiet. I'm a party, ain't I? But I'm busting out of that zone we hear so much about, the one with all the comfort glowing inside it. I'm going out into the world on a date with a guy I'm more in love with every day, and therefore, the zone will be going with us.