Today, like any other day, had me driving for two hours to pick up E. for work. He, myself and yru work at an electronics store in Brooklyn, which specializes mainly in bait and switch and questionable merchandise. Sometimes they offer a good deal, but still, I don’t shop there for my electronics needs and I think that is the ultimate test.
The ride to work was somewhat different this morning, firstly, it being just myself and E. and secondly, he and I managed a ride’s worth of sustained conversation. This hadn’t happened in a long time without the aid of some mind-altering substance. It was nice. He had secrets to share. Sure, Ok, everyone already knew or anticipated these things (much to his chagrin) but it felt good to be confided in again, after so long.
There was a party last night for Ann’s birthday. There were the people I’d known for years and years, gathered in the Love Grotto, for one of the last parties that may be held before I move and maybe I never see them again. And, for the most part, I didn’t really care. As I looked around at the different groups, and the bowl being passed and the latecomers and the seldom-seens, I felt nothing outside of the general pleasant glow that accompanies gatherings of any kind. But there was no cohesion like there once was.
We were all sitting in the same basement, sharing drinks from the same bottles and tokes from the same pipes, but there was distinct and recognizable separation in the conversations. It bordered on a miniaturized representation of a high school. There were the stoners, sticking close to the pipes and thus each other. There was me and Courtney, reading the sex books that Ann received, and we were laughing, because charcoal pictures of people having oral sex ARE funny. On the other hand, the more girly of the ladies were perusing the books quite seriously, with no smiles, just concentration. Some of the men jabbered about sporting events. There was the couple who are engaged and the couple in the euphoria of comfortable love, and the couple who had broken up that day.
yru was the loner. He popped in and out, flitted from group to group. He moved between people in a very easy way that I envied. I‘ve never asked if it might be lonelier that way. At least he could make small talk with everyone. I could do no more than greet the others with noncommittal hellos. This is my failing. As others changed, I failed to adapt to their needs, and whatever rift that exists between myself and others is just as much my fault. But, like I said, it doesn’t bother me enough to upset me.
I watched these people, the people I’d shared some of the most intimate experiences of my life with, watched them separate once again. When I met them, we were all outcasts, all different, and so we were the same. We had, as a group, isolated ourselves from other people, segregated ourselves as a protective unit and now we were doing it again, but amongst ourselves.
Before, in the times when everyone was still a student, and we all had infinite hope in front of us, we were all best friends, and no one veiled much of themselves. What would the point have been to hide things when it was so much fun to share? Privacy was something used to guard against prying family, against professors. Things only changed when some graduated and some moved on to graduate school and some made huge life changing decisions. Peoples’ paces changed. Some move forward, some move sideways. Still others aren’t moving at all because they don’t know where to go from here.
My father always told me that you never keep most of your college friends, and I always denied it, thinking I’d be the exception to his rule. But, as I sit back and watch with uncaring eyes the people who I once might have thrown myself in front of a moving truck to protect, and the people who I still love, but can’t understand, I wonder that he was right. I’ll keep some, but most will go to the discard pile, and I will go into theirs.