“So what do you like to do for fun?” is a perfectly innocuous question I deeply dread, and not just because my response is usually “improv,” which is an incredibly easy thing to make fun of, as it should be.
I think the real reason I dread this question is it reminds me of all the things I could be doing but am not. Is there a universe in which I took up watercolor, or video games, or the thing where you just go on walks and look for new birds but if you don’t find any it’s fine because you had a nice time? What about stamp collecting? Do people still do this? Should someone spearhead the return of stamp collecting as a quasi-ironic hobby among urban millennials?
There are near-infinite possible activities in the world that most people will never get around to. It’s like the fig tree quote from The Bell Jar — there’s only so much time and so much money to spend on things that bring joy, and our job is to choose before it’s too late.
Which is why I’ve always admired people for their hobbies — whether they’ve done them all their lives or are just starting out. It’s not just that a specific hobby can reveal a lot about a person, but that they’ve been able to decide on one at all.
Here’s the thing: Learning how to do something new can get expensive as hell really fast. It’s one thing to decide you want to spend your Tuesday nights learning pole dancing, but it’s another to realize that classes will set you back hundreds of dollars.
But for many, those few hundred dollars a year hold the key to a welcoming community, a sense of purpose, a getaway