I had tickets, well my wife had tickets, to a concert and we couldn’t find a babysitter so she decided I should find someone and go. Long story short, no takers. Along with this episode, some old fraternity brothers have been posting pictures from our college days which are fun to look at and led to this post. I don’t want this to veer off into morbid reflection, but something that I’ve struggled with for a long time is feeling connected with others. I look at those old pictures and it reminds me how I always felt like the odd man out, that my brothers were really close and I was outside of that circle. Many of those guys are still really close friends, or at least appear to be, and I would be embarrassed to get in touch with any of them, except on Facebook. Honestly, how does that conversation start? “Hey, how are you? Been about twenty years, want to hang out?” That just seems odd, to say the least. The other thing is my personality or who I’m attracted to, more or less. Not to put to fine a point on it, but as I reflect over the course of my life my closest friends tend to be women. I can’t honestly say why this is and I’ve pondered it for awhile I even tried to “correct” it from time to time. That usually involved such things as joining a fraternity, attending men’s groups in AA and trying to hang out in a “group of guys” (clique is probably a bit more precise.) Nothing quite felt right and the usual pattern is, look for a group, get involved in the group and realize I don’t particularly fit in with said group, all the while envying the closeness that the people (namely men) in the group seem to share. In recent years, all things considered I haven’t really been a part of any significant group and more to my detriment I haven’t been particularly close to anyone, except my wife, which is wonderful but I definitely think more is need to remain healthy, not only as a person but for our marriage as well. What has made that a much harder thing to accomplish is that, and this is mostly conjecture (but hey what is a blog for if not conjecture?) but my tendency to be friends with women as a opposed to men is inhibited in some way. Not that my wife would object, but I get the sense that female colleagues and associates aren’t quite sure what to do with the friendly family guy co-worker. Also I think that on some level I’m not quite as willing to put myself out there, as willing to meet people as I once was. I think part of this comes from the fact that over the years I’ve had some very close friends who have drifted away and the older I get the harder it is to establish that kind of relationship with someone new. What doesn’t help in all of that is how much I value my time alone, which is harder and harder to come by between work, kids and evening commitments. So when I do have time to do something that might include someone else, my first instinct is usually to go it alone. Also, honestly I hate to be a bother. Many of friends have very active lives, between work and family and other interests that I just don’t think they would be able or willing to do some of the things that I want to do on a rare night out. Of course the unfortunate side effect is that sometimes I’m not able to find someone to go to a concert with on a Friday night. (Some of you reading might be thinking, “Hey douche, I would have been happy to go to a concert, so get over yourself and get on the phone.” Your point is very well taken.)
I also see people like my brother and am amazed by the friends that he has had since college, still visits with them, gets together every year, and the like. My wife too; she has close friends from high school that she keeps in contact with regularly. I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on something, that I’m deficient in some way or, when I’m in a particularly dark place, that there is something wrong with me. (I won’t even discuss my in-laws, except to say their ability to sustain a thriving social network is truly amazing.) I’ve been told, by professionals no less, that there isn’t anything wrong with me, in this instance anyway. It seems my personality type sort of lends me to this type of existence. I’m good at making acquaintances, small talk but as far as making really close friends, I have a really tough time feeling that connection. When I do it’s very true, I mean I know I’m with a kindred soul, which is a wonderful feeling. There are a couple of downsides, however. First, it doesn’t happen all that often and in some ways I feel like I’m in the longest drought of my life not having that relationship. The other thing about this, again told to me by a professional, is that once a person is out of my life that’s it; the plug is pulled as it were. I’m not built like my wife or brother or many, many people I envy. The effort, for lack of a better word because it looks effortless really, to stay in touch just isn’t in me. Not out of laziness or disinterest, but I just don’t do it. Of course as good friends have told me about my feelings of remorse of losing touch with people who have meant a lot to me, “Well, has your phone been ringing off the hook?” The answer is no, of course. Seems my closest friends tend to be like me and losing touch is something that many of us do which is what makes Facebook so much fun.
I am resisting the urge to list and comment on the people I’m closest to, past and present. I would hate to offend anyone by not mentioning them and I’m well aware that some people may read this and think, “dude, we’re friends. I know you have other friends. What the hell do you want?” I can only answer by saying you’re right, and yet I can’t escape this feeling of being out of touch with my fellows, of being, quite frankly, lonely, isolated and discontent. Of course, from the time I started writing this (yesterday) to now I already feel better and realize how foolish I probably sound to a lot of people. Even so, I’m glad I put all this down, foolish or not. Somehow putting these thoughts out to the world (or the 10 people who read this anyway) clears my head and lets more light in, which is what I constantly need.