Monday, August 18, 2008

Transitions and Summer Ruminations

In the last two weeks, two of my best friends moved, each now living hundreds of miles away from San Diego. And their moves are permanent. Considering their departures in my head, the word "bittersweet" doesn't seem such a cliché, but an accurate description of the mix of nostalgia and regret, both of which loom over the uncertain fog of own my adjustment. When lots of your self-conception is dependent on your relationships and a couple important ones change, you ask yourself, "what's next?" and, not least of all, "what do I do with my evenings?"

There's a tinge of regret at circumstances lost but also of not being a better friend—for being a puzzle piece that never quite interlocked well enough, for not fixing past wrongs, and, perhaps more selfishly, for not shining brightly enough in their memories. (To add to the theme of change in my life's relationships, another friend from my inner circle at Point Loma was married yesterday). So life's demanded some reflection at the close of this most recent season.

It's interesting: when good friends leave, a part of you is suspended—the part of you (well developed over a long/meaningful friendship) that interacted with him or her in a unique relationship of no-two-are-the-same people. It's these suspended interactions/dynamics that are making me more wistful than the relatively un-hurdled end of college. Though, there was a big change post-graduation: full-time employment.

Work brings me money and a weekly routine, if also emotional labor (, corporate goals, and a pungent mental image of the "great unwashed masses." I really do enjoy the company of most of my co-workers—indeed, it's the dominant social sphere in my life now. A single vignette: There's David, the English accented co-worker who sits next to me all day. We pass our hours joking with each other, letting off steam in the face a sometimes-indignant public, commiserating over our post-graduate lives (perhaps it's an airy luxury of the 20-something to find his circumstances too small rather than his aspirations too big), and wondering when we'll be replaced by machines and/or genius cross-selling chimps.

That all makes me sound jaded, but I'm not...that much. As I told a friend recently, work life, when not meaningful or impassioned, often feels like a distraction from the greater stories of life that make a man: about 45 hours a week, I'm co-worker Matthew, the diet soda swilling former theology student, mostly affable (if haplessly out of touch with the dictates of suave likability), a little too eager to please, and with a penchant for sharing an opinion, even when (surprise!) not solicited. But those aren't the stories of life one tells when meeting new acquaintances, going on a date, or talking to another ambitious peer. And this distraction life takes energy—energy that I had hoped would go into making someone useful

None of this is permanent for me, however. I am building (slowly and with setbacks) the foundations ($ practicalities) of my grad school launchpad, hoping for liftoff within two years. In the meantime, I hope to eat lots of dinners with friends, read books that shift and clarify my insides, fly and drive around this country some, and take my shirt off more.

Occasionally while driving, listening to my iPod, or just walking alone, I’ll realize that I’m pretty happy. I wouldn't go back given the opportunity, I like lots of the new ideas in my head, fun memories, and just thinking about the bright(er) future I'm pretty sure that I'll demand of myself.

A persistent exhortation I give myself is to befriend Jesus...soon or next season. The highs and lows (well, mostly lows) of God-relation in this errant life of mine have been replaced with even steadiness. Not exactly because God's my rock, but because I've reduced him to a pestering pebble (a beautiful shining pebble that I sometimes hold up to the sky) in my step. Oh, and I hop around on the pebble-free foot a lot. Thankfully for my self-disclosure weary friends, very little in me desires writing or talking about my faith as if I'm the Underground Man in Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground. Unfortunately, for my soul...well that’s damned.

And on that cheer-y note...give me a call: I'm living for my friends these days.