The various joys and stresses of adult-life, coupled with the transition from “hooray, college shenanigans” to “holy shit, I have to pay how much to how many people each month?” have brought some interesting revelations, if you will, with them. This is actually one of those things I’ve observed for a while, but couldn’t quite put to words until recently, thanks to the boredom of standing behind a desk while the whole of Pennsylvania decided they didn’t feel like buying lottery tickets one evening. Bare with me, now. Some might find this a bit cynical, and by a bit I mean so blatantly cynical it’s almost impossible to miss the name tag this commentary wears (featuring the words “Hello, my name is HORRIBLY CYNICAL OUTLOOK ON BASIC HUMAN INTERACTIONS”). Allow me to pose a question that I, at least, find interesting to consider.
Have you ever been involved in a relationship–and by relationship I mean anywhere from the most basic friendship to the most intimate relationship with another person–that lasted so long it started feeling less like you were in it for the meaningful interactions, the shared interests, and so on, and more because it was like, say, a hostage situation? A socially-constructed Stockholm syndrome of sorts, perhaps.
I feel like it’s safe to admit, at least quietly to yourself so as to not end up on the receiving end of a punch to the throat, most people have at least one person in their life who they used to share a strong connection with, but is now only kept around out of some sort of perceived obligation. Gosh, I knew so-and-so from back in middle school, and he/she was usually a pretty good friend and it would be a shame to cut them loose. Right?
Maybe this is just me thinking about how the post-college life has such a noticeable, and interesting, impact on everything. Contrary to everything watching House, M.D. has taught me, people do in fact change. At the very least, they tend to show their “true colors” (a turn of phrase I always want to take literally, usually in the form of applying a paint roller to someone’s face) once various life situations change. Careers happen. Marriage happens. Unexpected babies happen. The list is pretty exhaustive, and I could hand the writing of this post over to all of the causality and crazy possibilities the Universe has to offer, but I imagine that would leave this entry unfinished for some time as the Universe has other things to do. Like lob great, big space rocks at us. Sorry, Russia; too soon? And I digress.
I’ve noticed how people seem to drift apart naturally, or forcibly, and it’s a weird notion to come to terms with after everybody spent all of high school scrambling to acquire as many friends as possible, as though it were a live action version of Pokemon (and comparisons like this should be rather telling about how sparsely completed my FriendDex was by senior year).
Then again, I’ve also long-since come to terms with the understanding of how people who matter most in my life tend to stick around, threatening to keep talking to me until the day one of us dies. Or both, if there are any joint-suicide pacts I’ve forgotten about over the years (fingers crossed I haven’t, because I’m not really the “let’s drink the Kool-Aid type of guy”). And then some people fade out, whether it be a slow and subtle goodbye I hadn’t expected, or like the ending of a bad sitcom that just needed to go away.
But that takes this back to those odd friendships that exist in a sort of Limbo between those two extremes. The ones that feel like they exhausted themselves, but keep on going.
Maybe this is just one of ‘those things’ I’m not supposed to fully understand, like basic algebra or what purpose the design of the Pope’s hat serves.