Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Waiting For the Next Train

Train stations are like airports except your food options are worse, the ground is dirtier (yum ABC gum!), and it smells worse.  European train stations aren’t too bad.  However, it is impossible to strike up a conversation with a stranger.  Not only because most likely they don’t speak English, but in Europe you don’t idly chat with a stranger.  Everybody has a simple purpose: get from point A to point B.  If you are not part of that process then you can forget it; they will not give you the time of day.  In these places of transition, people retreat back into themselves.  They read a book (or I guess a tablet for the tech-savvy), listen to their iPod, talk on the phone, play games on their Smartphone, or simply withdraw to a daydream state. 

Okay, enough with the literary devices.  This is a metaphor, and it’s the best I can do right now.  This is how my life feels right now.  Though, I will admit the station I’m in is the nicest station I’ve ever (and probably ever will) experienced.  Santa Barbara is “heaven on earth” for many people.  I think the song “Hotel California” by the Eagles perfectly captures the feel of Santa Barbara.  It is hard to leave once you’ve had a taste.  Nevertheless, I believe more than the place, it is the people that will be hard to leave. 

Santa Barbara has been my home for four years and during that time I’ve had my life changed by the people around me.  Some have come and gone, an all too common occurrence in life, but some have been with me through thick and thin.  They are the ones (they’re crazy by the way) who have braved the journey of friendship with me.  I call them friends.  My parents said that I would make the best friends of my life in college.  I feel like I must admit that I feel they are right, though I am open for them to be proven wrong at any point in time.  I plan on keeping in touch with these people as often as I am able.

However, in Santa Barbara Station, even those who I know most deeply have been pulling away in some capacity.  There is a palpable sense of stress and uncertainty with many I talk to.  It is this season of transition.  People have themselves to worry about and it seems that the carefree days are over.  I find myself doing this as well.  I don’t know how to approach this last month in Paradise.  How can I “tie up” my friendships perfectly before I leave and possibly never see them again?  How do you put that elusive “friends for life” stamp on it?  How do you continue a friendship when you no longer share experiences or hardships?  How do you base a friendship off the occasional phone call?  Adult problems.

Maybe friendships are never going to be the same.  What did HE just say?!  What I am learning is that friendship doesn’t have one definition.  Friendship with a person while in college looks different than friendship with that same person in the “Yuppie Years” as I call them.  Ideally there might be the annual meet up or vacation with that small group of friends.  Even when you make new friendships during this time, they won’t resemble college friendships.  People get married, gain more responsibilities, and have less time for friends.  What I’m trying to say is that marriage kills friendships.  Friendship genocide is a real thing y’all!  Just kidding.  Honestly, it will get harder and harder every year.  As somebody who finds a lot of meaning in my friendships, I can already tell this is going to be the toughest transition of my life.  Yippee!

Life moves quickly without asking us permission to do so.  I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no way I am going to have that perfect goodbye.  I’m not going to be able to say everything I want to say or be able to convey my thankfulness to those who deserve it.  And as much as I want it, I wont get that hero’s farewell like in the movie Big Fish (minus the whole turning into a fish and such though it would be super cool to have a farewell marching band, but I digress).  All we can do in this season of transition is communicate how much we truly care about those who are close to us.  I figure what we are supposed to do is put a smile on our face, enjoy what we get, and try to look forward. 

I’m reminded of the movie The Fox and the Hound.  This last month feels like that awful part where the old lady has to give up Todd.  Talk about waterworks!  I seriously doubt a single one of you can watch it without crying.  I often find myself thinking how crazy people must think I am for wanting to go out to Washington D.C. without knowing anybody out there.  Seriously.  I am going to have 0 friends!  At the same time I know it’s the right thing for me to do.  And that’s why I’m sitting here in the train station waiting to board the next train to D.C. 

So what the heck does all this rambling add up to?  Good question.  I’m not entirely sure myself, BUT, here is this: friendships in our twenties can still be great, however they won’t be as certain.  What I mean by that is you can’t count on that monthly sleep over with your best friends anymore.  Remember when you could stay up all night playing Halo with your roommates?  Yeah, that won’t happen either.  People have separate lives and priorities now.  We have to be deliberate with our friends now and cherish them when we see them.  From now on it will be harder to meet someone that gets you on multiple levels (and most likely if you do find somebody like that you’ll end up getting hitched to them).  But we can make a lot of great acquaintances!  Those best friends you’ve made along the way, they’re only a phone call away.  (1000 points for ending on a sick rhyme!)

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