I believe I’ve moved (changed states) thirteen times and am about to make it an even fourteen. Now, to be fair, some of those moves were for preset amounts of time, two stints for two months in Oregon, a three month foray into Mississippi, so these treks didn’t involve moving all my stuff, but they did at least involve changing locations and uprooting familiarities and routines. I have always prided myself on my vagabond-like tendencies; always up for a new experience. But as I’ve gotten older, they’ve lost their luster. I’m more looking forward to the day when I can put down some roots and set up camp. Move number 14 will not have that result. It is yet another stopgap on a series of them that have grown tiring. But it is a choice I’ve made, however much it was based on outside forces. But nonetheless, I’ll soon be on the road again. I have to assume Willie Nelson is beyond sick and tired of that song. I’m sick and tired of simply being on the road.
I’ve come to notice that I’m not especially strong at making large numbers of friendships wherever I live. I think because it was so easy in high school and college through associations that I developed or fell into, I just assumed it would always be that way. The strategies that worked in the past didn’t in the new stops and I began to become more self-sufficient in what I needed from other people. Maybe you could say I became more of an introvert, but I think it was more that I became pickier about who I wanted to hang out with. Too picky, in most cases. Quality of relationship became far more important than quantities of relationships, which frankly, it should be; but also accompanying that fact was an unintentional self-isolating component. Perhaps there was some social anxiety sprinkled in there along with some apathy, but the largest ingredient was a lack of knowledge of how to follow through. Friendship formation was indeed lost in translation more often than not.
That is until I’m about to move. When it becomes clear that I’m packing up the wagon and moving onto other pastures, I guess I become sentimental or nostalgic. I reach out to those that I consider real friends and try to make opportunities to hang out a few more times, but I also reach out to those that I either kept on the peripheral or never really made the effort to befriend. It kind of seems like all along I’m deciding on whether they’d make a good friend or not, but never really giving them the chance. And I imagine that because of this possibility rolling around in my head, it unconsciously causes me to put out a front of indifference. Maybe I’m not the most welcoming individual. I remember when I was young and I would go to the store with my mom, she would inevitably be curt to some shop worker, not because she was rude per se, but because she didn’t suffer fools. I had to remind her that these people were just doing their job and trying to help her. I think it might have been the only time I offered my mom good advice. Anyhow, maybe that rolled off onto me. Certainly not with shop workers, waiters and service people, but with friends, or should I say, potential friends.
And I’ve noticed, too, that many of my romantic escapades occur in the waning months of my impending departures. For a while I chalked it up to serendipity, or perhaps the world’s forces bidding me adieu, but maybe it’s because I’m looking to make one last connection with where I’ve spent so much time. And what better way to connect then, well, you know… But I ask myself why I don’t put forth these efforts earlier? What is it about the final days or weeks of being somewhere that prompts me to reach out?
The one thing I have been good at when it comes to friendships is staying in touch. I always call my friends on their birthdays (not this post on FB garbage), I make the effort to go to their hometowns and see them or arrange trips where a group of us can convene in a unique area, and I keep tabs on their personal trajectories. I invest in them because they mean so much to me. But why doesn’t that translate to the cultivation of new friendships? And why does it only rise to the surface when I’m about to change latitude?
I have a lot of time to think. I enjoy it. I’m probably overly self-aware, but still manage to have a brash ego. A healthy mix in some instances, a harsh critic in others. But as I walk my dog, hike in the woods, listen to music, drink a beer, go to yoga or drive across the country, I delve deeper into my psyche to sort out what I’ve done and what I think I need to do to get to where I’m going. So far these plans haven’t worked out so well; perhaps they’re half-baked. But you have to start somewhere, right? I actually once almost convinced myself that my best ideas came to me when I was drunk. Then when I woke up the next day they didn’t seem to spot-on. Usually spot-off. But in the moment there was this clarity as if I had figured everything out, as if I knew how to fix all of my problems. Well, come sunshine time I was blinded by the light. But the thick, murky clouds of disparity, or the streams of golden opportunity all have their way of blinding me until I get closer to the edge of departure. Then it seems clear that I better take advantage of the situation, because it won’t be available much longer. So I reach out, even if only for a little while.
So it seems I’m always leaving. And it also seems I’ve never resolved anything. Is this a clear example of fight or flight? Or am I just simply not that concerned with creating more connections until I am? I mean, it isn’t necessarily bad that I don’t reach out until I’m about to depart. It’s kind of like pulling your chute at the last minute, soaking in that freefall until it’s time to glide back to earth safely. But I have to admit, if I’m honest, this metaphor of the freefall, well, as it applies to me, it ain’t that great. It seems that the gentle float back down to the ground is the more rewarding element in this case. So maybe I need to make more of my life a float, and less of a freefall. The freefall appears to be a rush to judgment, hurrying up to wait, being oblivious to opportunities and a blockage of potential _____. And while the freefall, at least in the real world flies by (no pun intended), here the float goes by too quickly as well, as comfortable and enjoyable as it may be. So perhaps the lesson for me is that I should embrace the float and look for more of that in my everyday life. The slow motion meandering of life is more captivating than speeding through life without enjoying it. The only problem is that I’m always leaving…