A few months ago, in August perhaps, I sat on a bench in Washington Square. A girl my age approached me, clutching a black leather binder. "Can I ask you a question?" she implored with an inordinate amount of sweetnees. "Where do you get your hair cut?" My hair was, at the time, an orange bramble, impressively untamed. I realized she was hawking spa services, but played along for the moment.
"Mmm, I don't. Haven't had a haircut in almost a year. Can't afford it."
"Oh. Well, then. I suppose you don't want to take a look at our services..."
"Sorry, really. I can't afford it."
She took a few steps, then stopped. She paused. "What is it that you do?"
"I'm a barista."
"Oh...what else do you do? Like, in your free time?"
"Um. Hmm. I sit in parks. And think. I sit on park benches and think."
"...I see that."
A few days later, as the morning shift at the cafe was ending, a co-worker asked a similar question. I sensed a certain air of reproach, and responded defensively.
"Liz...what do you do? Like, when you get off of work?" the teenager asked.
"Um...you know...hang out. Go to the park. Or a movie."
I once read a magazine article which posed that American society values extroversion over introverted behavior, tending to view the latter as negative, abnormal or counterintuitive.
The article also attempted to re-explain the two behavioral types, relating them to the way in which one gains energy. Extroverts, the article stated, are solar panels; they absorb energy from others. Introverts, though, are rechargable batteries; they require adequate alone time in which to recharge themselves.
I should think that most people fall somewhere between introversion and extroversion; I suppose one's behavior is also dependent upon their current mood and frame of mind. But beyond politically correct equanimity, I do require an inordinate amount of alone time. I enjoy movies, candelit bistros and long walks on the beach...alone.
I was reminded of this today, at the cafe. I stood behind the counter, arms crossed, staring into nothingness. I was interrupted by my Russian co-worker.
"Lizzy! Do not think so much!"
I've been admonished before; I'll be reprimanded again. It's inevitable.