These are not my friends. I don’t know their names, but I do see them in my neighborhood, usually together, usually laughing and one of them bartends down the street from where I live. They’re friendly enough, both smiling and serious in the rare moments I’ve seen them and they’ve always been (at best) friendly and (at worst) ambivalent. Either of those responses are fine.
Preferred. Simple. Easy.
Friendships, real friendships are fucking hard. They get complicated, demand nurturing and care and this can be difficult when you’re still figuring out how to take care of yourself, I mean really take care of yourself. Alone is how I spend most of my time, again, trying to figure out how the fuck to take care of myself, and allow a moment to be clear about what I mean by that – I am a grown ass man who has managed a job my entire teenage and adult life. I get promoted. I pay my bills. I make $30,000 more right now at my employers than when I first arrived here nine months ago. I have bank accounts, groceries and routines. Sometimes I drink more than I should and struggle with cigarettes, but the clothes on my back are mine and the rent gets paid without fail. I’m the kind of person who looks like they are thriving and I have been described as such, outward appearances suggest nothing is amiss.
However, below the surface of my skin lives a ton of blame, both real and imagined, aimlessness, sadness, anger, a hatred of my current job, a push and pull between Chicago and San Francisco I can’t resolve, a distanced relationship from my sisters who I rarely speak to and I struggle to find time to talk to my parents. I love them, but it all seems so fucking hard. I go to work. I go home. I take photographs here and there that have been well regarded that give the impression of a rich and active life that is a total fucking lie. Work. Home. Some drinks. Some staring at the wall and the inability to develop, go beyond, but I’ve watched the entire run of Breaking Bad three times.
I have three friends, two who live in Chicago and one who lives in San Francisco. We stay in touch. I say too much. They’re all well aware of the troubles below the surface no matter how much I try not to talk about it as I’m convinced (on the bad days) it will only push people away. Abandonment issues play fuckery with my mind, which is why it’s so much simpler to do things like move 2500 miles away from two friends, and my partner and live isolated surrounded by runes and artifacts of a life that while looking full, can be pretty fucking empty.
But I’m fucking trying. I spend time with the local friend weekly and make myself available for everyone else.
I’m a listener and I give good advice.
And I’m trying to take my own, fake it until you make it. Be creative when you don’t feel like it. Be social, even when it’s like sticking pins in your thumb. Go to work. See the therapist. Eat healthy and exercise. Read a book. Write another. Go to Ocean beach and feed the crows.
The two in the photograph, I’m happy to let them be just people I see around, nods of familiarity, brief eye contact before we continue on our way while I work to stay open to the people more central to my life. Just stay fucking open, let go, recognize no control and just be a normal fucking guy who has something good to say every once in awhile.