In that time, I've come a lot closer to a degree (looks like I'll graduate in a month, with a totally respectable GPA nonetheless), have a soon-to-be-wife, and just can't bring myself to drink like I used to. I mean, it's fun hanging out, but if I'm not cruising for ladies (which I'm not, to be clear), what's the point of spending all night at the bar when last call doesn't have the same significance, the same promise?
It saddens me that I had, at one point, a pretty tight community of friends, a really great circle of acquaintances, and lived in a place that fostered getting to know people. I made some bold decisions, some which worked out, and some which didn't. I left a job with people I loved because I needed to try doing something else. I miss that little community more than I ever would have guessed. It defined everything that made working in a restaurant great, but I just couldn't be static for any longer.
The next job was a lot harder, with people less similar to me, but oddly enough, they have, over time, become fixtures in my life as well. I honestly didn't think we'd ever really connect, and it is indeed a different set of relationships, but I am thankful to know them.
The next job left me a little colder, a little further away from old friends, and while I definitely met some great people and cemented some friendships, I still found myself isolated by a long commute, shitty pay, and the aftermath of the fire.
As a result, I am embarrassingly alone. Despite having a terrific relationship, and coming a long way in terms of personal growth, I somehow lost a lot of the people I had along the way. Isolation, lack of communication, and the people I was closest to now largely live a minimum of 3,000 miles away, and we don't talk nearly as much as I'd like. It's sad, but I don't even have a best man at this point, because my main candidate lives in nuclear-devastated Japan. My high school friends are really pleasant acquaintances that I see on Facebook, but I don't know them in day to day life. My college friends live all over the world, the few that I've kept up with, and have wives and families that keep them occupied and fulfilled. I talk to some of my post-college friends, and we see each other from time to time, but very little in my life resembles that intensity, that hitting the bars a few times a week, even that fucking kickball game on top of Mission Hill and drinks on Calumet before, during, after.
Is it normal? Is it advisable? I mean, I'm writing in a fucking journal, because this is really bothering me, and I don't feel right about it. It's sort of private, sort of personal, but at the same time, it's a really public forum, because as much as part of me just wants to vent, another part wants answers, suggestions, something.
I look at my friends lists on Facebook, and it's a mix of friendly professional contacts, favorite places/celebrities, and a history of people that I've cared about and somehow disconnected from over the years.
Talking with one of my best friends about how we aren't really friends anymore brought a lot of this home. We were at one point inseparable, but a lot of things changed that. Nobody is faultless, nobody is entirely to blame. The saddest, most cringe-inducing part of this conversation, for me anyway, is that it is the best talk I've had with anyone outside my fiancee about anything. People still talk, debate, discuss, and now that I actually have a little education, I feel like perhaps I could keep up and contribute a little better. But those old opportunities are gone-- the world shifts, we can only try to keep up.
The thing is, I used to know exactly who I was. What I hated, what I loved, what I wanted and what I rejected-- I knew all of it like a recitation, a poem. Now so many of those ideas have evolved, or are in flux. I still believe in much of what I've learned, but I have also learned not simply to accept but to dissect. I am typically good at dissecting, theorizing, finding flaws. Perhaps this is part of the problem. I write, sometimes, and then I lose it, or hide it, or simply walk away from it. Part of me wants to write a book detailing my own emotional development over time, giving it to my kids (if and when they occur) to help them through the protracted existential crisis that is life. The person who was me at 25 has been built up and kicked down more than a few times, and bears little resemblance to the old me. I don't even know how I'd feel about myself, were the two of me to meet. I don't think love or hate, acceptance or rejection would capture the subtle politics of negotiating with a past version of myself.
Something funny: at one point, I would have paid far more attention to the language, flow, nuance and rhythm of this piece. I would have wanted to include poignant metaphors, maybe alliteration or painful-yet-insightful irony. This was partly natural, as I loved a certain kind of spare-yet-lyrical style, and partly purposeful, as I wanted people to read this, and think to themselves "hey, this person's uncanny ability to capture a feeling and devastate me with well-chosen phrases makes me think we should give him a book deal and lots of admiration."
Instead, this is plainly speaking. In a way, this little dilemma of mine (because honestly, those suffering from nuclear meltdown, tornadoes, political persecution and torture have something very tangible and very real to concern themselves) is the most soul-baring thing I've done in years. I have a few more issues to vent, but at this point, I'm boring myself with being sad or whatever this is. I have homework to do, so I'll concentrate on that, and try to figure out just who the fuck I am now in the meantime.
"Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around."