Living in a new house every five years has been tough. I’m not boo-hooing; I genuinely have a great life and I’m blessed with a lot of loving friends and family. But when you’re young, you need your little tribe of misfits around you to help you figure out who you’re going to be, what role you’ll take in groups, what your strengths and weaknesses are and how you address those weaknesses, and so on. As you get older, you rely less on others, but the memories you make as a child are irreplaceable and invaluable. You remember things you said and did that made you the group leader, the class clown, and the romantic. You take your former application of it and apply it to the present.
It helps to keep these friends around for a long time. It’s easier to remember things when you can literally look the memories in the face.
Living in a new house every five years is tough because, for me, that meant a new school, a new city, and essentially a new life. I got really good at making friendships quickly. Like, really good. The two difficult things for me to hone in on were the first impression and the holding on.
I have done a lot of first impressions, but they’re always with different types of people. I am one of those people that knows how to assimilate after I know what’s going on, but until then, I have to guess what people will want to see, and often try out the wrong type of humor to start. I once asked a girl what her name was and then told her I wouldn’t remember it. This was a bash on my impeccable ability to hear the name of a stranger and immediately forget it, but she took it as her not being memorable. Okay… Mayhaps there are more issues on her end, but that doesn’t matter anymore because I’ve already offended her to the point of no return. I also enjoy a good dose of childish humor. When the crowd is immature, I’m a hit. When they’re trying to adult, I’m a total flop. At twenty-something, it’s easy to run into a crowd of reluctant wanna-be adults that smirk and want to laugh but maintain composure to save face and hold up their reputations. I’m not above that, which either makes me a poor adult or too myself. Maybe a bit of both. I don’t care either way.
My theory is that it is easier to watch new people meet you where you have the home-court advantage, because then they are the ones squirming, trying to fit in. You are where you belong and therefore learn how to just be yourself in a comfortable place, so when you wade into unknown waters, you swim exactly as you always had.
Now, with the holding on, that’s just life sometimes. Friends drift apart no matter how long you’ve known each other, and that’s completely okay. There comes a time when you know you and your interests and ambitions, and if they don’t line up with your friend’s, so be it. I think I’d be a great adult, if I ever chose to be one. I know how to be me. I don’t know so much about how to be me with new people, then I get to know them and I’m me again, and then I know I don’t need them for me to be me, so I loosen my grip. Does that make me a bad friend? I always thought there was supposed to be a mutual hold on one another. It’s less like a boat on a dock trying to float away and more like two boats at sea, where the bobbing of the waves pulls you apart and you take turns tugging at the tow-line to reunite. I’ve got about five friends who tug at the tow-line with me. Maybe ten. Again, totally fine. It’s just that when the sea gets a bit distempered, I’m more likely to tug that tow-line than to adventure into the stormy waters and find a safe haven.
Today, as I sped along the I-10 going east in Phoenix, I was wondering why I felt on the brink of nostalgia yet couldn’t fully embrace it… It’s because none of this is old enough to me to evoke nostalgia. The last time I lived here for an extended period of time, I didn’t go out of my way to attend house parties or other get togethers (primarily because I was never invited), so I didn’t grow particularly close to many people. I moved away for five years and made incredible memories which now elicit great nostalgia and longing, but those center themselves in Flagstaff. The friends that I made there are either still there, and some of my most beloved (Austin and Carly, for instance, or my sister and her fiancé), or they live here in Phoenix, and I never see or hear much from them.
Now, I drive to work, go to rehearsal for one of five projects, frequent coffee shops because why not, read, write, and hike. That’s the list of things I will likely tell you I’m doing if you randomly call any day and ask, “What’s up?”
I want to smell the decaying leaves in Dearborn. I want to feel the chilling wind at Memorial Park. I want to hear the people who own boats zip along Lake Saint Clair on a Sunday afternoon as I sit in my back yard under the maple tree, watching the clouds drift by. I want to have the option of visiting with a friend I’ve known for more than five years.
It’s no wonder I can’t settle down. What do I have to settle down for, anyhow?
Dang, separation is easy.