Saturday, September 12, 2009

Will you be my friend?

It's taken about three weeks to get settled into my apartment and into the rhythm of law school but I realized after last weekend the one thing missing is friends. Jacob and his Texan buddies were in town last weekend so I was able to mingle a bit, but of course visits are fleeting and relatively infrequent. I'm going to be here for three years - a support system imported from the Northeast isn't going to cut it.

What added to this realization was Jacob's constant teasing last weekend that I do not have friends here. Every time I was introduced to someone new, my first question was, "do you live in Austin?," hoping to establish a contact here. When he pointed this out to me I realized my desperation. Something needed to be done.

Making friends here is different from what I've experienced in the past. Because so many Trinity friends transplanted to NYC after graduating, I haven't really had to try to meet people since I went to Trinity eight years ago. The experience of making friends as a 17-year-old freshman at a small college nicknamed "The Bubble" is vastly different from making friends as a 25-year-old 1L at a huge school in a vibrant city. I don't live in a dorm here. When I entered Trinity, I, like most of the freshman class, was single and excited to meet people of the opposite sex - that incentive is (happily) gone. 80% of students at UT are from Texas, which means they have family and friends somewhere in this huge state, and well I just don't. We are encouraged to "network," which for me makes social situations even more strained and awkward, as if there is some calculable end to the forced laughs and clinking of the beer bottles. The most difficult thing for me, however, is the sheer necessity of it. I have never felt like I needed to make friends; it was always a pretty natural process.

So I needed to be more deliberative and proactive - I, for the first time I can remember in my life, had to make a forced effort to make friends. When I heard about the happy hour for our Society (about 100 of us who have two classes together) I knew a free beer scene would be the best possible situation for my newfound resolve.

The open bar event was at 6:00 at Scholz's beer garden, on the edge of campus. I went to a meeting at school at 5:30 for a group I am interested in joining, and at the meeting was a fellow "4C" student (I still don't have a hold on the system, but UT Law divides you into societies and sections - our society is about 100 people; our section is a smaller group from the society of about 25 people with whom you have all your classes.). Recognizing each other from classes, we started chatting and turns out she and I lived in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn, as did our Criminal Law professor. We were both heading to the Society happy hour and she offered me a ride with another girl and guy from our Society. This meant I had three new friends before we even got to the bar.

At the happy hour I got to know some of our other classmates better and I found myself enjoying the conversations - nothing like the forced Q's & A's I had feared. I exchanged some phone numbers, and was on a roll. At about 8 I left with two girls in my class and we decided to walk downtown, about 10 blocks, to get dinner before the "Bar Review" party at a downtown bar. (The Bar Review is every Thursday night and is put on by the Student Board of Advocates. It is just a pun in name and has nothing to do with the Bar, like my mom thought, but rather simply takes place at a bar.)

On our way downtown we walked past the Capitol building and through its grounds. (See the picture I took, above.) The Capitol is just stunning. It is massive, I believe larger than our Nation's Capitol building, and the grass there is pretty much the only green grass I have seen since I have been to Austin, due to the drought. We also saw a possum lurking around the building and bats flying above, circling the capitol dome. It was a beautiful walk. We ended up getting a slice of pizza and then headed to the Bar Review.

I stayed at the Bar Review until around 1:00 and hopped in a cab to go home, which I shared with a girl I had met earlier that evening who needed to pick up her car on campus. More phone number exchanging ensued.

I woke up with a headache the next day but felt pretty good about the previous night. Making friends isn't so tough. Oh, and I found out Jay-Z is coming to Austin Nov. 22, and UT students can get $25 tickets. Made plans with my new friends to go.

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