Between Gears

I think that one of the most difficult parts of growing up is feeling placeless.

When I was out on my own, I rarely minded the occasional night in by myself. Looking back, I think it’s because I knew I had a choice. I’ve never been big on hanging out in bars. Once in a while it’s okay, but it’s really not my cup of tea. Too many people, and so many of them annoy me.  Still, I knew that I could, if I wanted to, and sometimes I did (and sometimes I still do). If I wanted to go sit on the couch at a friend’s place and watch t.v., I could. If I wanted to have friends over to my place, I could. I am growing increasingly frustrated, though, with being home (as in, the house I grew up in) and not having that option. As a result, I keep getting the distinct feeling that I have no place. 

When we were in the process of becoming the people we are, the possibilities to figure it out seemed endless. For many, though not all of us, this time was college. There were always people around, and once you found people who shared your interests and who seemed to be moving in the same life direction as you, it was great. I loved that time in my life because I knew that the people I wanted to hang out with also wanted to hang out with me and so there were nights of good conversations and total buffoonery. We all knew what was going on in each other’s lives and we talked freely about it. It was comforting. It was a place.

And then college ended. All of the people most important to me at the end of those four years went one direction, and I went another (literally). The next phase of my life was very similar. I made great friends and, though it was different from college,  I still felt like I had a place. I worked hard to maintain my friendships from college and even a few from high school all along. With some it was easier than others. Distance has never been a big deal for me because, to me, it doesn’t feel like work as much as something that I want to do. I wanted to keep in touch with my friends. So I called and I texted. I emailed and IM’d. I Facebooked. Rarely do I have a problem with taking a road trip to visit my friends, so if there was an invitation or a reason to go, I went. While I did all of this, I also was up for basically anything my group of work friends wanted to do, which generally involved things I enjoyed anyway. We were all pretty like-minded in that respect.

And then that phase of my life came to a screeching halt.

I have been looking for a new, permanent job for two years, one week, and two days. I’ve been living in my parents’ house, without a permanent job, for one year, nine months, and six days.  It’s not that I don’t love my family, but as the days drag on, I feel more and more…placeless. For one thing, I have very few friends in this area. Some of them, while I value them as friends and enjoy their company, just don’t have much in common with me. Because of that, I don’t see them too often because I don’t enjoy the things they enjoy. Others I’ve grown apart from, and hanging out tends to feel forced and not like much fun. Some have families. Others seem to be always busy. Don’t get me wrong – I still enjoy hanging out with my “home friends” whenever it happens, but I spend a lot of time being bored.

For some reason, this near-perpetual boredom makes me jealous of my friends who don’t live around here. Like I said before, I’m a firm believer in maintaining friendships. I do it automatically because it’s just how I operate. I hate losing people and always have. I know who I consider to be my best friends, and I stay in touch. So I plan road trips and I drive hundreds of miles to visit my friends. They all live in much more interesting places than I do, but it wouldn’t matter to me if they didn’t. I have to say, thought, that sometimes it hurts my feelings that no one comes to visit me. In the span of time I’ve been living at home, I’ve had one visitor. I tend to follow the school of thought that it’s not where you are, but who you’re with, and the road is the same distance in both directions. But that’s how it’s been. So I go and visit them, and then I come home and get depressed because I’m stuck here, between gears, and I don’t have a place. I don’t have a space to call my own and I can’t make regular plans. This isn’t anyone’s fault, and I know that. But I won’t deny that on a Saturday night when I’m sitting home, having found nothing to do but write a blog that is probably more personal than it should be, I don’t feel jealous of my friends who are out and/or able to hang out together. I feel very jealous sometimes.

And then I guess part of growing up also means that nagging feeling that perhaps you don’t mean as much to your friends as you once did. In my case, this feeling will get me every single time, and it’s probably why I ended up writing this whiny post in the first place, because for me, it’s not like I don’t mean as much to those friends (which I can’t prove, anyway), but I mean a lot to another current group. There is no current group. I can sit at home and distract myself by reading and writing for only so long before that feeling of placelessness comes back and it feels like everyone’s moving on with their lives except me because I can’t figure out where to go. I don’t mind being by myself, but sometimes it’s just nice to have people to talk to, you know? It’s frustrating to keep trying to get out and having no success. It’s frustrating to keep trying to communicate with people who never seem to have the time. Even members of my family never seem to have the time. It wouldn’t be fair to accuse my friends of not caring about me anymore; I know that’s not true. But it does bother me at times when I feel like I’m the only person who reaches out or makes plans. I keep hoping that feeling will pass when I get out of dodge.

In the meantime, friends, don’t take this post too personally. It’s probably just the boredom speaking, and maybe I just needed to vent a little. Everyone does. Mostly, though, I just can’t wait to switch gears so that I can settle and get some kind of a life back, both with old friends and new.

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