Tuesday, September 19, 2023

I Want My Old Friends Back

Happier times, on a visit to Tucson

It dawned on me the other night, right before falling asleep, that what I want is to have my friends back. My partner will read this, and believe it is her fault. My in-laws may think they are to blame. No one is guilty except, perhaps, myself, for not anticipating the loneliness I would feel after moving to a new town. Two-and-a-half years in, and I am still grieving. I truly am misplaced here.

My partner and I agreed to come to Leavenworth, Kansas, to spend quality time with her parents, while they are still healthy, and relatively young. We have dinner out with them, at local restaurants, almost every Saturday night. I’m happy to do that, though the conversations typically cover the funeral(s) of the week, and news of people Heidi may know from her childhood, but no one I have any connection to. I’m used to talking about broader topics, society at large. I rarely do that now because of differences in ideology.

Let me emphasize that I like my in-laws, and most of the extended family of my partner. The problem is that this is my entire universe now. We get back to Colorado once per year. I think it has been close to a decade since we last visited Cincinnati. We both have friends strung out around the globe, some of whom we only know through social media, but are anxious to meet IRL (in real life).

Funny, as an only child many friends in my youth were adults. Now that I am an adult, or at least pretending to be one, I find the need to be surrounded by young people, to keep up my energy and enthusiasm for life. Colorado was a perfect mix of both youth and age. Everyone is physically fit, highly engaged in community affairs and in national and international issues.

Leavenworth, by comparison, appears at least on the surface to skew heavily geriatric. Many people are overweight or otherwise unhealthy, and you seldom see smiles. There are children and teens, of course, but I rarely encounter them. The twenty-somethings I see are wait staff at the restaurants. Fort Leavenworth fairs better, and despite the military affiliation, I have met some nice families there thanks to a couple of events I’ve participated in. You need passes to get on post as a civilian, though, and it is not a daily or even weekly proposition.

All this is to say that I am not incentivized to cultivate new friends here. I am simply not interested. It would take energy I do not have because I am deflated by where I find myself. It is a perfect circular storm of sadness feeding itself.

I want my old friends back. They gave my life purpose that I am lacking now, and I fed off the energy they have. I learned things from them. I helped teach them in return. We shared both optimism and pessimism for the collective future. We made each other laugh.

Practically the only thing holding myself together is an obsession and compulsion to document all the animal species I can find on our modest little property. It is enough of a healthy distraction to keep me away from potentially self-destructive impulses.

In the cold months I struggle constantly. I have lost nearly all my creative energy, and seldom write. It is not that I have nothing to write about, but I am unmotivated to do the exercise of pressing the buttons on the keyboard. Translating thoughts to actions is too daunting.

I believe advice is unhelpful. My situation is something I will have to solve myself. Maybe I’ll need to spend a year somewhere else, on my own. Who knows? I only hope that I recognize the solution once it presents itself.

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