If you are an adult and experience loneliness, society seems to be saying that you’re doing it wrong. Yeah. I have known no greater depth of loneliness than at one point in my marriage when my wife & I just weren’t communicating and much later when I was desperately in love and my lover had retreated to another bedroom in her huge house. And I have felt the greatest love of my life at my going away party at the Eden Bar when I moved away from Orlando surrounded by many of my friends from work, from my skeptics groups and my music buddies who came out my last night in Florida. Managing friendships over the long haul isn’t a simple matter of saying “hi” to those around you when you’re alone. But it probably doesn’t hurt to try.
We happen to be living at a time when we have almost complete control over what form our social commitments take, with no one in any position to tell us that we’re doing it wrong. It’s a blessing and a curse.
I work with little kids and I love how the video communicates their willingness to just say, “hi” (though I’m certain that there was a level of “coercion” in the part of the video-maker). But I also witness regularly all the drama and hurt feelings because these little one aren’t able to understand the difference between “I can’t talk to you because I need to get this thing done” and “I can’t talk to you because you’re annoying.” So, sometimes it isn’t a matter of just saying “hi” to those who seem to be alone. Of course I’m writing these words at a bar in Downtown Las Vegas surrounded by strangers because I decided that going out on a Sunday night was better than continuing to work on the condo (clearing out all the now empty boxes and setting up the home office… mañana).
When I was online setting up renting a truck for my move, the application asked for the phone number of a local friend that they could use to verify that I was who I said I was. I had to scramble to find anyone who was available at the moment for the verification. In the end the app crashed and I had to work with the truck rental people face-to-face (how primitive & efficient!). It was a painful revelation that after two-years of living in Las Vegas there really wasn’t anyone I could identify as a “best friend” or friend enough to be available at the drop of a hat.
At the same time, after having been in Las Vegas for two-years, this was the first time where this was a problem. Problem or just where I’m at this moment in time.
I really didn’t know anyone in Florida when I moved there in 2008, except Holly, who was my friend and my boss (which presented it’s own set of problems). But, with the 24/7 work-style at Full Sail, I found myself socializing with coworkers and developing friendships much quicker than my previous experiences with public school teachers or my phone company friends. So, I have tried to have more happy hour times with the current crew here in Las Vegas. Alas three friends from the core I met in 2016 have moved away and I found myself dependent on a new friend and her family (whom I hadn’t met) to help me with my move from my apartment to my new condo.
I do have to own-up to being responsible for much of this when I get into this “all work focus because there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done” and only break away briefly for a movie night or Monday night football beer night… I did this in Long Beach and I did this at first in Orlando. It really isn’t a matter of just saying “hi” to those around you (I happen to be pretty good about striking up conversations with strangers when alone…), but acknowledging and managing all the different levels of connection and deciding which connections deserve more complete access and which ones are peripheral can be a full-time job all on its own. As always, I can do better at this.