It has been a long standing joke of mine that I am a member of the National Geographic Society by virtue of a 'zine subscription, and that's the closest I get to joining anything. After all, I am paradoxically misanthropic. I mistrust those half-bald primates, which walk upon two legs and call themselves Man. Even and especially when they're in groups of two or more.
On a more abstract level, I know I am a part of things whether I like it or not. A relationship, a family, a community, a species, a planet, a universe. All things are interconnected in ways that the most brilliant scientists, philosophers, and theologians struggle to find an all-inclusive language for. The words that would shake us all from the gray apathy of egocentricism we all become entangled in at one point or another whether or not we ever want to admit to it.
Upon that more egocentric level, perhaps it was nurture; the bullying I was on the receiving end of growing up. Being picked last. From the zoological standpoint, I know the other whelps we trying to find the shapes of their hierarchies in their packs, but becoming an exile at such a tender age did leave its scars. Things that still haunt me to this day.
But maybe it was also nature; I have always tended to be more solitary. Sometimes, I find myself aggravated when someone, even one of the quadrupeds, wants to share my company. It could be, back then, there were times, as I was trying to find my own shape and come to grips with that paradoxical misanthropy of mine that I might have tried too hard.
And it's not like I didn't try. There was a few years in the Cub Scouts and 4-H. Neither of which I particularly excelled at. From eighth grade to my sophomore year, I tried the history club because it seemed interesting, but never picked it back up after that. At one point or another, it comes up I do not work and play well with others, be it socially or professionally. Nature and nurturer made manifest in the monster that is me.
Lee was part of a biker tribe for a couple years after I moved to the mountains. Whenever we communicated, he neglected to mention this. It only came up when he was considering cutting his ties with group, as to be a better father to his son. The perspective of parenting aside, I chided him for feeling he needed to a part of herd so bad. I know terms like sheep and cattle came up in the discussion.
"You know me," he said. "I'm a joiner."
Despite the exasperation in his voice, he finally told me about his group affiliation for the fact I was not the most social of cats in the best of times. Just as he was the more extroverted and inclined to want to be a part of something, I was more inclined to watch. I like to watch. It's within the framework of this juxtaposition that our friendship functions as it does.
A few days ago, I was at the Tea Room procuring some Moroccan Mint to help combat my allergies. One of the waitstaff sits upon the board for our funky little township's historical society. She asked me if I would be interested in a position. I bit my tongue from asking what kind of position and if Sabina and her husband would get to watch, but told her I would think about it.
Perhaps I'd be drinking a little bit more wine and whiskey than usual...
"You two are interested in the history and come to most the events we put on for preservation efforts," the museum curator mentioned when I spoke to her on the subject. "Why not make it official?"
The president of the board, my two doors down neighbor, a man you do not meet insomuch as experience, and I stayed up late into a night shortly thereafter. I'd like to say we were drinking lemonade and reading the Christian bible, but all that translates into is we were contemplating whiskey and he was telling me stories spanning from the halcyon times of the mining days to a year of two before Sabina and I showed up on the scene. When my being asked to be on the board came up, he confessed he had wanted at least one of us ever since we moved in.
"If I fucking do this, will it shut ya'll up?" A question I'd put to Lee more than once over the course of our friendship, which has been the source of trouble starting and high adventure.
"You'll make it look easy," my neighbor said.
"Tally-ho," I muttered, taking a sip of whiskey, realizing I was committed, or maybe should be.
The upside to all this is I might be a little closer to having our place in the world declared a World Heritage Site, should I want to be that kind of aggressive in pursuing it. I will perhaps uncover and collect more stories about the ruins, which pepper that mountainsides surrounding our funky little township. Means to an end.
Be that as it may, that paradoxically misanthropic aspect of me wonders just what in the fuck I've gotten myself into...