Interesting interview over at The New Yorker.
I’ve always had individual friends, but I didn’t find the people I wanted to learn from as an adult until my midtwenties.
I didn’t make friends as an undergrad. And though I attended theater school for playwriting before university (after taking a break after high school), even though my program was small (only three other people), I didn’t have that collaborative or learning feeling with any of them. (Wait—I’m just now remembering; my boyfriend at the time was in the directing program, and we learned a lot from each other, smoking pot and living together and talking about art and working on an adaptation of Faust.) But when it began to happen on a broader, community level—it was a pretty deliberate choice. I wasn’t searching for parallel mentorship, but I was definitely searching for people I could talk to in certain ways and be with in ways that had more to do with art than, I don’t know, gossip. Even though gossip is a big part of art! My then-boyfriend (later husband, later ex-husband) Carl Wilson and I began having parties every two weeks. And with my then-new friend Misha Glouberman, I started Trampoline Hall (a monthly barroom lecture series), and Carl had a music show called Tin Tin Tin, and for a few years we were just building this world of people around us. Anytime I met anyone I liked, I would invite them to our parties or to lecture at Trampoline Hall.
We did it because we were bored. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves. I remember telling my grandmother about our isolation, and she said, “Have regular parties at your house.” I think that’s how she and her mostly Jewish, communist, artist friends socialized back in Budapest. She told me what to do, and we did it, and she was right. God, I owe a lot to my grandmother.
It was the regularity of contact that was important—she was right. We threw four events a month, not to mention the times we’d see people at other events. So after a few years, we had gathered a pretty solid group of friends. It took a lot of time, and you often ended up socializing when you don’t want to. But it taught me how to have conversations, how to find people, how to work with people who are your friends, and how to turn friendships into working things. I’m just realizing for the first time what an education it was. I think making friends you can work with is a skill like any other; developing those particular kinds of intimacies. They’re intimacies like any other, but they grow in a definite direction, not just willy-nilly, like normal friendships. I can’t imagine school as having been a satisfying substitute for me. You’d only meet people in your program, and the nice thing about our world was that everyone was doing different things.”
If you are looking for something and can’t find it, sometime you have to make it yourself.