I always fall into the trap of believing that I have been exhausted, or that I have exhausted people. That there is nothing anyone can show me that I haven't seen or heard about already in some form. The irony is that often what I find in someone new is actually just a reflection of myself in them, a new way of seeing myself. Not that I don't see that person as being unique, but when I start out, I can't help but define them by my own measurements, like mapping a new continent by your own concepts of size. Dimensions have these set definitions of inches, yards, feet or pounds, and we all adhere to them eventually. So is it at first with people.

When I meet someone new that I believe I can relate to, I become obsessed with that person. I want to know all about them, their life, their thoughts. I want to slip behind their eyes and see things as they see them. It's like having a best friend in middle school that you absolutely adore. You want their seemingly normal home life, you want to be one of their parents' kids, you want their life to be absorbed into yours. Not exactly because your own life is the pits but because theirs is something new, and it energizes you.

For other people, making new friends or meeting new people may be more typical than it is for me. Given my reclusive lifestyle, that wouldn't be hard to imagine. The handful of really close friends I have I can never seem to get enough of, but of course, they are all at a distance right now. The one friend here who is pretty much what I would call my best friend, and I work with her, and we never get tired of each other. We are, in a sense, the only friends each other has, so the addiction is mutual.

In those rare times when someone crosses my path (which they pretty much have to do, since I don't cross many other people's paths) that intrigues me, I am transfixed. A hunger comes over me and my addictive nature takes control. I rattle like a wind chime of empty soda cans, I pose provocative and often abrupt questions, I poke and prod and drink in that person like air, like a decent glass of wine. Sometimes it scares them away, and rightly so, but not always. Sometimes the attention I provide is exactly what they wanted, precisely what they'd been hoping for, someone to listen to them and pay attention.

All of my relationships start with that electric burst, that blinding flare of effort. More often than not, it dies quickly, as lightning that touches down and then ceases to be in an instant. It may be my own intensity that predicts the end; that wouldn't surprise me. I can't help but think that this behavior of mine stems from my childhood growing up in a tourist town, where the kids I made friends with left in three months often to never be seen again. So I learned to appreciate what I had when I had it, so that I could at least say that I made the effort, that I allowed myself to touch other people even for a brief period. Being an only child hopelessly introverted, and socially inept with kids my own age probably figures in there too.

And New Orleans is no different. It's the adult version of my childhood, where people come to get lost and often find me to lose themselves in. And I often willingly accept that role as temporary fantasy, because it's actually more normal to me than having a friendship with someone that is built to last the test of time. Again, I know that this is not healthy for me, and I don't know how to rectify it, since I love the rush of meeting someone new so much, of getting to know them while we're both around. And there have been rare moments where that rush has lasted years that legitimize to me that it can produce something withstanding, that it isn't all just smoke and mirrors. But it does make me feel like should warn people that I meet, so they at least know what to expect.

So consider yourself warned.

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