Thursday, November 17, 2011

It gets lonely out here

Do you know what your parents were like before they started having kids? Have you ever thought about it? Who were their friends? Where did they hang out? Do they still stay in touch with their friends from high school? From college?

One time, when I was a little kid, my family took a road trip to Memphis. I don't remember why Memphis was our destination of choice. In fact, I don't remember a whole lot about that trip. But I do remember us stopping at the house of an old friend of my dad's. This man was my dad's college roommate. I think he even came to my parents' wedding. I had never heard of this guy before in my short life (I think I was 9 or 10 at the time). I can't remember his name, so let's call him Roger.

Roger was a nice guy. He had kids, and they, my sister, and I played in his back yard while my parents caught up with their old friend and his wife. After a while, I was bored. Being the selfish child that I was, I kept asking when we were going to leave. I think at one point my mom said, "Your dad doesn't get to see Roger very often, so we're going to stay a little longer." Or something to that effect.

I remember thinking, "Doesn't see him very often!? I've never even heard of this guy before today! He must not be that important if Daddy doesn't even talk about him any more!"

Now that I'm a grown up and living very far from home, I understand. I'm sure Roger was one of my dad's closest friends in college. The fact that he possibly scored an invitation to my parents' small wedding is an indicator of his position in my dad's young life. But after college they had moved apart. They began families. Staying in touch became a chore.

I'm sure Roger stayed in the back of my dad's mind from time to time. He was probably one of those people that popped into my dad's head and made him think, "I hope Roger's doing well. He was a fun guy."

Living so far away from my hometown means that I am guaranteed to be lots of people's Roger, no matter how much I wish it didn't. It's already starting. Facebook has helped to make the gap between me and friends from high school and college a little bit smaller. But when it comes down to it, maintaining a friendship is hard.

My friends are starting to have babies. I'm not, so I drop off old friends' radars. This would have been the case even if I still lived at home (it's because of the Baby Vortex...but that's a post for a different blog). But because of the fact that I don't run into these friends at church or in the grocery store, the only updates I get are from Facebook statuses and twitpics. Friends that I always thought I would stay in touch with are having major life events and losses, and they don't think of me when they need someone to talk to.

To their kids, I'll be the random lady that just shows up once every few years, if then. I'll be their parents' Roger. One day they'll probably think, "I've never heard of this lady before, so she must not have been very important." I'll be part of their parents' forgotten, pre-family lives.

I don't write all this to have a pity party and be all woe-is-me. In fact, I've been sitting on this blog post for a while because every time I start to write it I can hear my mother's words: "This is the life you chose! Stop complaining."

I realize I chose this life. I knew it wasn't going to be easy when I decided to pursue a career outside of my home bubble. And I'm not complaining. This blog is designed to share my life's experiences with you; you can live vicariously though my adventures. So I'm sharing a huge part of my life with all of you. Maintaining a friendship is hard for any adult. Now I know that choosing to live my dream means I have to put even more effort into keeping my old friendships than the typical twenty-something American.

Vicariously yours,

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