I love it when a line in a book speaks to me, or sums up an aspect of my personality so well that my eye returns to it again and again, rending me unable to continue with the story.
This doesn’t occur all that often.
This line from The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst is one:
“My idiosyncrasies are my right; and as long as everyone does me the courtesy of not mocking them to my face, we’ll all get along fine.”
And back in November I blogged about this quote from Ben Dolnick’s Zoology:
“She’s always been dreamy, private, a little fed up with everyone she knows.”
It might not be nice, but it’s true.
It happened to me again last weekend while I was reading The Last Summer of the Camperdowns by Elizabeth Kelly.
Two characters are talking on the beach and another runs after them, desperate to be part of the conversation.
Watching him go, someone asks, “Why go where you’re not wanted?”
Someone else answers, “Intrusion is the best that some people can hope for.”
That’s the line that got me.
Are some people destined to never “belong” to a group, to never be wanted by other human beings? And am I one of them?
I’d like to think that everyone fits in somewhere. That even if I’m seen as an intrusion to one group of people, there’s another group who welcomes me.
But I’ve certainly known people who I viewed as an intrusion. Like the girl in college who knocked on my door every time she was going to the dining hall, but that I didn’t really like. I would pretend to be out so I wouldn’t have to eat with her.
I always assumed that girl had her own group of friends who answered their doors happily. But maybe not.
I certainly feel like an intruder when I attempt to join discussions at meeting or parties. I don’t enter gracefully, I stand on the edge of the circle, hoping someone will offer an opening for me to join in naturally and so I don’t have to force it.
If I’m not given a cue, or a push, to jump in I just stand there listening, feeling like I don’t belong, that I’m intruding on someone else’s conversation.
Even with a group of friends, I often feel like my conversational contributions come too late or are off base, that they are secretly thinking, “Why did we invite her?”
Does that mean that intruding is the best I can hope for?
I honestly don’t worry if others perceive me in this way very often.
I’m comfortable with who I am. I’m fine being an unsocial person, someone happier alone than in a crowd.
But when a line like this hits home, I have to admit that I’m not thrilled by the idea either.