I'm thinking of C.'s brother A., whom we last saw at Christmas. He's just dipping his toes into the social waters of Leipzig's goth scene and wonders what it's like in the UK. Here's a slice of it, one with social cohesion, a subset, mingled seamlessly with sibling subcultures, gathered together in honor of a birthday. The venue is in the basement of a hotel; I had no idea this one did parties. A. might be happy here. C. is. Sooner or later, I'm the only one not on the dance floor. I like the music, but I'm ornery when it comes to dancing styles, and I like my dancing organized.
The birthday boy's a regular in our life lately. I met him eleven years ago before he decamped to America and I to Canada. We kept in touch via email, but our contact lagged when he returned to his native country. hungry_pixel was the social glue that stuck us back together again, at one of her parties. It's also to her credit that we're in touch again with thirstypixel and inbetween_girl. She's also why we know rhube. All of whom were also here. A few of the connectors - rosamicula - we know through easterbunny and aca, their social influence felt even now that they've left the country. But it's not just familiar faces we know from recently. There were familiar faces dredged up from ten year's distance, whom we knew casually, independently of any of them. In most cases, I have no idea if they recognized me. Does it matter? There's only so much the human brain can hold, and I know to my embarassment that I've done my fair share of forgetting faces over the years.
The birthday boy connects in other ways. He's a con-goer, a writer, a fan. He's not on LJ, but it's an assumed commonality. One woman I meet doesn't ask if I'm on LJ; she asks what my username is. Another is professionally an editor. Language binds us, but I don't just know the SF readers; I was a RPer once too. A friend complains good-naturedly about the impenetrable code in which all the IT workers present speak. We all have our own specialized languages; they're only incidental when there's no one else around who speaks their buzzwords too. Another conversation dissects the language co-optation in management-speak. They're good conversations, in amongst the music and the lights and the food.
After those long gaps - years - between visits with the birthday boy, we meet up again at a party last year. Lunch on New Year's Eve. And then the past three weekends, two housewarmings and his own birthday party, and it's as if we're all in the same neighborhood, locals, regulars, only we're in Essex, in Surrey, in Yorkshire, and our travels and social circles overlapping like pond-ripples all coincide. He won't be around next weekend (why should he be?) but I hope, this time, the gap won't be years again.