HJ and I were sitting on the floor of his dorm the other night, talking pointlessly to fill the two hours we had, when the topic of dating came up. He’d realized, he told me, that a lot of his dating had been interview-like for far too long, and after he’d noticed that, they’d always broken it off.
“What do you mean by interview-like?” I asked.
He didn’t know, he said. More like all the dates were just getting food of some sort and talking the entire time about their, he didn’t know, family background and whatnot, and it just always felt so formal. And it never moved on to the next step.
“But what’s the next step?”
Doing things together, he said. Going to events and experiencing things together, instead of experiencing things separately and then talking about it in conversation.
I sat there for a bit, thinking. I’d always placed conversation — conversation in a vacuum: can you talk with this person if you had nothing but the person itself? — as the highest measure of compatibility. I judged my fit of friendships by how well this flowed. And yet: I could see how he was right. Friendships could be built off of doing things together. It rang similar to something WB had said a long time ago, how he valued time in which he did things with friends in silence, in parallel, though perhaps even separately. I didn’t understand at the time. But I do now.
On Friday night, HJ and I, stranded, decided to play pool. Our conversation was nil, but banter was high. I enjoyed myself. I let myself enjoy this conversation that met none of my intellectual standards, that was composed of nothings and dumb jokes and that made laugh nevertheless. I’m learning, I think.