Melancholy

Thursday, October 28, 2010
I spent yesterday trying to figure out why the news of my old friend's loss made me feel so bad. After all, I haven't spoken to her or her family in years and years, and while I had spent a considerable amount of time in their home as a teen, the fact is that we drifted apart for a reason.

Then it occurred to me. My grief wasn't really about my friend losing her father - although losing a parent is never easy and I wouldn't wish it on anyone - it was about the fact that I have drifted away from all the people I grew up with. I'm still in touch with any number of them, but we're not close.

Part of the reason is that my life evolved in very different ways from theirs. My military experience matured me in ways that post-High School employment simply can't, and I'm sure that their own experiences led them down intellectual and emotional paths that I never tread. After I left the Navy, I was a member of the working poor before I eventually ended up working in a white collar, professional job, and my life and values reflect my circumstances.

But to be honest, most of it is that I value far different things now than I did then. Now, in my middle age, I can't imagine being genuinely close to someone who doesn't read regularly, or vote responsibly*, or has a healthy dose of intellectual curiosity about the world, or values education, or engages in any of the other things that make me judge someone and find them wanting. And the fact of the matter is that many (but not all) of the people I grew up with don't value the same things I do now. Just as I may not value what they consider important (like religious faith, for example).

I suspect that given my personal growth trajectory, such an outcome was inevitable. But it still makes me melancholy.


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*Not to be confused with voting the same as me. Voting responsibly means taking the time to research the issues and making intelligent, considered choices with your franchise.

5 comments:

Stacey said...

I, like you, have grown apart from childhood friends and with my parents gone have no link to my childhood. After much soul searching, I came to same conclusion you did and couldn't imagine holding a relationship with them. I do have one friend I saw when I was in Houston and I sat there at the table and realized I have nothing to say to her anymore. We lead two completely different lives and I'm not interested in going backward. Ironically, I have more in common with her grown daughter than I do with her. It does make me sad from time to time, but I wouldn't trade what I have right now for any of those friendships.
I'm so glad Anne introduced us and am happy to consider you part of my circle of friends.

Phiala said...

I could write very nearly those same words, with only the substitution of grad school for the Navy.

I'm Facebook friends with many people from high school. They have kids and grandkids, and many are conservative, deeply religious, and don't read or think much. At least the vocal ones.

I'm also really good at drifting away from people, compatible or not. If you're not here, you're not here.

Vagabond said...

It's interesting that you bring this up now. I'll be getting together with some of my high school chums over the holiday for the first time in about 20 years. I've been catching up with them on facebook for a few months and I think I've managed to weed out the fringe wacky ones, but they are still conservative christians for the most part. Hopefully, they've read my fb and blog postings and won't be surprised to have a big city liberal in their midst. Mind you, I truly don't expect it will be an issue during a single night of drinks and a trot down memory lane. I'm still a little apprehensive, though. Maybe it's just being in a situation and place I voluntarily left 25 years ago . . . hmm.

mom in northern said...

Vagabond:

Good luck with that...I just recentely did the reunion thing.

I will not be doing it again for all the reason under discussion.

Mrs. Bitch said...

@ Phiala - "I'm also really good at drifting away from people, compatible or not. If you're not here, you're not here."

Whoa, a girl after my own heart. Lately, I've been wondering why I've always found it so easy to emotionally detach myself from even people I genuinely like. It really kinda bothers me.