Smoking and Shuffleboard

One of the massive differences between the place I’m currently living and the place I moved from is the attitudes that people hold about smoking. It is a lot more prevalent here, and seems to also be much more accepted. This goes for weed and cigarettes, and it’s a bit of an adjustment. In California, I don’t feel rude for not wanting to talk to someone who is smoking, but here, I feel like I should just accept that the person I’m speaking with is smoking, and I should try to look past it. There are breaks in our training days. They’re not called “smoke breaks”, but they tend to turn into that for about 1/3rd of our team. I wonder if I will be more adjusted or accustomed to this by the end of the year…

Tonight I went out to a couple of bars here with people from my team. I fretted a bit before leaving about how new people would perceive my distaste for the consumption of beer and wine. Friends who know me well know that I don’t drink much, and if I do have a drink from either of those two popular categories, it has to be a really sweet white wine. I’m not really the bar hopping type, but I like hanging out with people, and I didn’t want to spend Friday night at home, so I went. I met up with the others after their first bar, in a little tavern with a shuffleboard table. Now, aside from a homemade shuffleboard-esque table that an old youth pastor of mine constructed in junior high, I’ve never touched a shuffleboard table. I’ve seen the larger version played on cement, but again, not quite this. There were six of us total, and we quickly discovered that we were not skilled at this game. As the night progressed, we gained a little skill, but not enough to be proud of ourselves for any reason.

Behind the bar, there’s an open space for people to sit if they want fresh air. Funny thing about that fresh air. It’s populated with smoke of all kinds, and its very loud because of all of the people who have squished together into that tight space. I tell myself that the relationships I’m making outweigh the small amount of exposure that my lungs are getting during that time outside. All in all, it was an interesting night. I woke up this morning, worrying that I’d spent it home alone, and I’m happy that I was proven wrong. Shuffleboard and sitting surrounded by smokers might not be what I choose to do every week, but once in a while, it’s not too shabby. I was thankful to find that everyone was supportive of my decision not to drink and happy to have me along for the ride. Maybe it won’t be so challenging to be the one conservative in the room. But I’m still waiting to show this group just how conservative I really am. I don’t think it will be a surprise, but I’ll have to see what happens when the time comes and I am seen for who I truly am.