I'm not sure if it's ADD, a quarter-life crisis, or something in between, but if there's one thing I've learned from the events of the past 24 hours, it's the value of novelty and spontaneity in my life, and how far I've let myself get away from that.
2010 was not a year where I accomplished major life goals. It was a year where I laid a lot of groundwork for some potentially very cool things I'll be pursuing in 2011... but to say that 2010 was a great year for me would be, at best, disingenuous. I had a steady relationship for the first time this year... and while we're no longer together, Katherine reaffirmed my philosophy that it's worth waiting for someone you really click with before diving into something serious. She's an amazing woman and I was incredibly lucky to have her in my life.
I think back to the night we first met, and the conditions that were present to make that a great night. Why was I confident and not grumpy? Were things going particularly well in my life at the time? Not really. Was it the shoes? I love that pair of Lacostes to death, but probably not. Was it having just seen Toy Story 3? Unlikely - puffy eyes from crying don't exactly scream handsome.
My roommate and a couple friends of his decided to go to Patty Boland's and I was going to meet up with them there. It wasn't a big group - 4 or 5 people, half of whom I knew. Just a brief side note about that bar - nothing says "we take care of our staff" like a $4.25 cover charge and a tip jar.
So, I'm at Patty's with a few people I know, and I really thrive in situations like that, where I can quickly and easily scale my level of extroversion. I can meet new people, I can chat with existing friends, I can hit the dancefloor... it just kinda works. And thinking back to my time in Toronto, nights spent in the piano room at the Madison fall into almost the exact same pattern. So when I'm in that comfortable environment, and I notice someone I follow on Twitter checking into the bar on Foursquare? Of course I'm going to say hi to him, and introduce myself to the ladies he's at the bar with. And who knows, maybe I'll really hit it off with one of them and ask her out for Oh So Good because it's scientifically the best first date you can have and why defy science?
The goal isn't, and wasn't, to have fleeting hookups with women I'd never see again. That's not to say things have never gone that way, but on any given night... the goal is always to find and develop something new that's going to last. Something that's going to make life better for all parties involved. Sometimes it's good conversation, sometimes it's intimacy, sometimes it's both and sometimes it's neither. The point is that it's something great and wonderful and worth seeking out, but it doesn't come out of thin air - it typically only happens when you're already in a good mood and enjoying your night. Maximize the odds of being in that sweet spot and you maximize your odds of having a great time.
Despite what NPH says, this isn't as simple as not being sad anymore and being awesome instead. There's always going to be factors outside your control, and you absolutely can't force them. You can be feeling like a million bucks, but if your friends don't feel like going out, you're wasting your time and money if you go alone - other people will assume there's something wrong with you and act accordingly. At the same time, no one wants to try breaching that big group of people who all know each other because no one wants to look dumb in front of that many people if they screw it up. People engage in so much social vetting consciously and subconsciously, that if you don't ensure you're going out into a situation where you're going to be at your best... you're risking a crappy night. And I'm not sure that I've been taking steps to ensure that kind of quality environment lately.
I feel like I'm at my best when I'm in a small group of people I know, in an environment where a bunch of similar small groups are assembled and mingling is encouraged, not just by virtue of the occasion but the layout. Booths, overly loud music, overcrowding... doesn't help. Tables that can be pushed together and rearranged, music your can hear yourself think over, limiting capacity to a sane number... does.
Maybe bars in Ottawa need to hire better designers. Maybe I need to broaden my social horizons. But thinking back to the spontaneity I exercised yesterday afternoon? When I realized that anything I did in Ottawa was likely to end up feeling like a compromise, and that hopping on a bus to Toronto was the right call if I wanted to have an absolutely fantastic New Years Eve? That I had to start making calls to see if I could track down a couch immediately?
That's the kind of thing I need to do more of in 2011, because I had a great time - huge thanks go out to everyone who made it possible. Weekend getaways to Toronto may not be the most feasible exercise, but they're absolutely in the vein of what I plan to do a lot more of this year.
Happy New Year.