Last week I discovered that one of my next door neighbors is my age. We both pulled into the parking lot at the same time, then got out of our cars and began to unlock our apartment doors in unison. I looked questioningly in her direction, wondering if I should say hello. At the same time, she looked questioningly at me, probably wondering whether she should say hello or get out her pepper spray. Our eyes met, but no sounds emerged from our mouths. We both stepped into our apartments at the same time.
That night I had a dream that, instead of scurrying nervously into my apartment after making eye contact, I introduced myself to my neighbor. We became good friends and even threw some parties together. I woke up determined that to officially meet my neighbor and to make a new friend.
This is actually a bigger task that you might think. I'm very shy and socially awkward. Not only does introducing myself to a stranger make me nervous, but I also can't figure out how to go about doing this. I've considered everything from just knocking on her door and saying hi to baking her brownies to hiding behind her car and jumping out and yelling "Surprise" the next time she walks by.
Finally, this morning, a legitimate, non-stalker opportunity arose. I was leaving my apartment as she was entering hers. I saw her walking toward her door as I turned to lock mine. At this point, I was both excited and terrified. "Here's my chance," I thought. And then, "Oh, crap. I actually have to SAY something!"
Fortunately, my desire to overcome my shyness beat out my desire to avoid being socially awkward and I managed to squeek out a small, "Hello" and a little eye contact. She said hello back, and rushed into her apartment.
I have spent much of the day pondering the look on her face at that moment. Was she angry? Annoyed? Or equally as terrfied? Is she opposed to being neighborly and friendly, or is she, too, terrified of social interactions?
I guess the only way to find out is to continue my attempts to be friendly. Now that I've said hello, what step should I take next? A note slipped under the door? A invitation to meet my rabbits?
Someone needs to explain to me how this whole "social interaction" thing actually works.