A few years ago, I stumbled out of my home at the crack of noon and shrieked as the light of day assaulted my cave-creature skin. My neighbors were all sitting at a shoddy picnic table that lived in the small space between our doors. That moment was one of their first impressions of me. I can imagine what they saw: a strange, shaggy-headed, exhausted looking, trembling weirdo nearly falling out of a door they likely had never seen open, and then this odd fellow yelled “ach! The dayball!” and ran back inside for a pair of sunglasses.
I don’t go out much. I work, and I go to a few bars, but most of the time I’m inside, where the light is delightfully synthetic and the climate is always under control. I went to a meeting for a magazine I work with, and one of the people there made an astute observation. They called me a “reclusive ass.” I couldn’t agree more with the phrase, but I do have to disagree with the intention. The title of reclusive ass, which I will cherish always and may have put on business cards and engraved on my headstone, was given as a playful insult, but that implies being a recluse is a bad thing.
I’m here to defend my kind, the recluses, the introverts, the domestic hermits of the world. Years ago, when I could get by during the Summer on the leftover blood money of my unspent student loans, I could go days, sometimes weeks, without seeing or speaking to anyone. I went through a month in which I would go to sleep around 10 in the morning and wake up only after the sun went down. I’d go about my day at 2 am, hitting 24-hour grocery stores and browsing the internet until my eyes bled. I ran into a friend out in the street well after midnight, and we both yawned. He said something like “long night?” because there are only a few acceptable questions following a simultaneous yawn. I told him I had just woken up, and I will never forget the giddy joy that swam through me as I acknowledged openly that I could happily escape from all people just by being awake when they weren’t. I was a good little nocturnal hermit boy.
I can generally keep about two friends in my life at a time. Anything more, and the constant chaos just gets to be too much. I run into other teachers in my cohort as we move between classes, and they often say things like “Where’ve you been?” or “we never see you anymore,” and I love it because I get to say “home” or “nobody sees me anymore,” and then I smile and go about my business. From the outside, it may look like I’m antisocial or just overly curmudgeonly. But that’s not entirely the case. I am just an ambassador for the people of the world who’d much prefer to be the stage crew than the main cast. I like my people, but I do not want more of them.
When I was a pretentious teenager, I would spend my time moping in various black hoodies entertaining such astoundingly unique thoughts all in the vein of “nobody understands me,” and “I just want to be left alone.” I’m lucky enough now to realize I was a big ol’ doofus, and not only was I so shallow that anyone who gave me a cursory glance could have understood my entire razor thin personality, but I also made the mistake of thinking I was unique and special. Extremely introverted people are not unique or rare or special or more worth paying attention to than anyone else. However, I mostly wanted to take the time to make an important note to anyone who is not naturally inclined to hide from the world: it’s pretty fantastic, and you should really give it a try.