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Breaking Up with Friends

This is twice now that I’m blogging from an unconnected notepad to later post—and the gap in time between posts means I’m failing at keeping up the habit. Lots of travel and a title change that boosted my workload significantly, so nearly all habits I’ve been working on are suffering. Less writing, less gym, and I’m even finding that I prefer day dreaming on my commute instead of reading. I partially blame the book I’m reading, but I’m being stubborn about stopping and starting with a new one. 

My fears about the fourth book in the Stieg Larsson series came true: the story line is solid, but I’m disappointed with the writing itself. Dialogs seem so unrealistic, and I’m curious if that means the writing is worse or the translation is worse, or maybe both. I believed it, like the originals, was translated from Swedish to English. 

But I’m halfway done with it and still feel too invested in it the plot to quit. I don’t know if there has ever been a book I started reading willfully that I didn’t finish. I just seems wrong, and I always convince myself its going to get better.  Catcher in the Rye for example, I felt like I was obligated to love, because who doesn’t love it? It’s an American classic, etc. etc. I hated it. I mean I hated it. But even with 40 pages left I was telling myself, it can’t be that awful. There has to be some epic ending that has me understanding everyone else’s love for this goddamned novel. 

I’m distracting myself from what I came to write about.

I had this lightbulb moment over the weekend that was gratifying in a way but at the same time extremely saddening. I was hosting a group high school friends for the weekend for two brides-to-be…both getting married this summer. I always get this pat-on-the-back reaction that its so fantastic we’re all such good friends still; thats such an accomplishment, etc. 

And I guess, what they mean is, good for you guys for working out all the differences that come along with getting older.  For making the time and effort for each other and staying so closely connected. Everyone knows how difficult it can be to stay in touch. (Which is silly—its not hard to pick up a phone or text…hard isn’t the right word, and yet, so few people can keep up with it).  It’s a habit, but if you don’t think of it as one, its a habit no one can enforce. 

C.J. calls one of his best friends on the same day of the week at the same time, without fail. And if his friend—who has two children, a wife, a house, a new job, and very little time to chitchat—doesn’t pick up, C.J. calls the next day. And the next day. And it isn’t annoying or intrusive. It isn’t trying too hard. It’s his way of telling his best friend he’s always going to make the effort. They live across the country from each other and on two different planets (a new father and a single guy don’t have too much in common anymore) but just having a person who you know is committed to staying close and who will listen for as long as you’re willing to talk is really all either of them need to keep that friendship going. 

Anyway, my lightbulb moment was, keeping our friendship alive all this time isn’t an accomplishment—certainly not one we should be applauded for doing. Because we’re keeping something alive that we should put to rest. That’s tough to say. I’ve known most of them for more than twenty years now. They know me—knew me—better than anyone. And I don’t don’t doubt that any of us care for each other any less than we did when we were all living in the same town and tight knit. But being with them for days at a time made me realize we have grown apart, and our friendship isn’t a healthy one. Not to me. 

The way I described it to C.J. is the only way I can really put it: We have two very different definitions of fun. If I go into detail it sounds snotty or that I’m talking down on them somehow, and I don’t want that, so I’ll leave it at that. What’s fun for me isn’t fun for them, and vice versa. And I don’t know if a friend you can’t have fun with is a friend. They’ll always be girls I love. I’ll always have so many memories connected to them. But every recent memory, every experience leaves me stressed, sad and wanting to be alone. 

It’s funny, without them, I don’t have any other real friends that I consider best friends. But I do have friends that know me, that I have fun with, that I trust. Maybe its because there isn’t much history there that it doesn’t feel the same. But if I could choose one or the other on a Friday night, its the group that may have no idea where I went to school or what my hometown was like, but they make me laugh. They don’t argue, ever. 

I told my mom all this when I got back from the weekend, and its funny. Her reaction was almost as if she’d been waiting to hear it.  Granted, most times when I’m home, she hears the brunt of it, so none of it was a shock. But I think looking at it from the outside, she’s been seeing me drift from them over time, where to me it felt a little sudden. 

The part that I’m stuck on is, what now? I don’t need or want to turn this into some dramatic goodbye. For one, there are still a few that I do want to stay good friends with. And there will be plenty of situations that I see them. I’m not trying to burn bridges or create awkward situations. But I want to be able to visit my parents without feeling obligated to see everyone…and that will not go over well. Not the first time anyway. Is there a mild way to put, I’d rather not spend the little time I have at home around all of you? Can I Ross it and say I need a break? Probably not, I see them maybe 3 times a year at most as it is, with the exception of this year, because of all the weddings and the events that come with them.

While I mostly feel sad, and I know I’ll feel sadder when its out in the open, I also feel a bit of relief. I kind of love the idea of going home and having the entire time to spend with my family and CJ’s family instead of running around trying to squeeze in as much as possible. I’m officially old.


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