I don’t want to say I’m super organized when it comes to my plan for blog posts, even though it might seem that way to some. Especially when I reveal what I’m about to reveal. I keep an open Excel spreadsheet that tracks upcoming blog posts and the dates on which those posts will go live… in theory.
The spreadsheet is more of an outline of a plan than it is a hard and fast schedule of what’s to come. You know how you can have multiple sheets? Well I’ve got one for each day of the week. And since each day of my blogging week typically follows some kind of theme, those sheets keep everything organized and separate. The Monday sheet has my list of movies that I’m currently working through. Tuesday lists episodes of Quantum Leap. You get the idea…
Thursday is the only day of the week that doesn’t really have a theme. So I typically set Thursday aside for random posts. This is the day when I generally just decide at the last minute what to write about. But I still have a Thursday sheet in that Excel file. Because sometimes I’ll get ideas for blog posts that I figure I’ll get around to writing eventually.
There’s been one post idea that has been sitting at the top of that list since… oh, I don’t know… around the end of last summer? And I keep skipping over it because I haven’t been too sure of how I wanted to word all the things I wanted to say. Even now, I’m four paragraphs in and I’ve done nothing but ramble.
Anyway, that post idea basically says, “What has quarantine taught me? I have fewer genuine relationships in my life than I believed.”
Most of my reasoning for skipping over this one over and over again is because I don’t want this turn into some sort of self-pity post. And I don’t want people to read it and think I’m just feeling sorry for myself because I’m under the impression I don’t have any genuine friendships to speak of. Even now, I sort of feel like I’m going to be judged for having these thoughts.
But I’m just gonna do it. For one thing, I wanna cross this one off my list and get it over with. For another, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what friendships mean to different people and how we have individuals who float in and out of our lives throughout life’s different seasons. That’s not a new lesson I’m learning. It’s just a lesson I’m having to relearn.
During the height of the pandemic, so much of my time was spent at home. Alone. And for the most part, I was perfectly fine with that. I love being alone. Unfortunately, it didn’t mean I wanted to spend 100% of my time avoiding all contact from the rest of humanity. I was okay with not going out and not being in crowds… That’s never really been my thing anyway. But I had this recurring thought that it would be nice to hear from some people sometimes.
Let me state for the record, I do have a handful of genuine friends with whom I am in regular, almost daily contact. These are those rare individuals who are counted as lifelong friends. But, while we are in contact with each other on a regular basis, we really don’t live anywhere near each other. So getting together isn’t much of an option unless the stars align and much planning is made.
I feel like I should explain my situation going into the pandemic a little, which may help to set the stage for where my head has been for the last 18 months.
In August of 2019, I made the move from Blacksburg, where I’d lived for the previous six years, back to my hometown of Roanoke, where I’d been commuting for work for a full year. It only made sense for me to live in the same city that I was working in. Gas is expensive. Also, that drive on the interstate between Roanoke and Blacksburg is generally a nightmare. If I had a nickel for every tractor-trailer fire I saw…
Anyway… I found myself in a new place. Sure, I grew up here, but that doesn’t mean that I had a whole lot of relationships that I came home to. And in leaving Blacksburg, I was leaving behind the familiarity of a church that I’d attended and even worked on staff with for years. The people there were my friends. They were my family. However, even though Roanoke is only about a half hour away, I stopped hearing from those friends… that family.
I’ve come to understand that my friends in Blacksburg were friends of proximity… friends of convenience. When I show up on the rare occasion and visit these days, I’m told how much I’m missed. And I believe them. When they see me, they realize they miss me. But when I’m not around, it’s out of sight, out of mind.
At first, that idea hurt me deeply. Because I think about them. Would it be so much to ask that they occasionally throw a thought my way? Eventually I stopped allowing that kind of thought to hurt me. Because it’s not intentional. Those friends that I left a half hour’s drive away haven’t forgotten my existence. They’ve just got their own crap going on.
As personally as I was experiencing 2020… so were they.
Being in a new place and suddenly being faced with a worldwide pandemic left me with just about zero ways to socialize or meet new people and make new friends. Or maybe the pandemic just made it easier for me to make excuses not to do those things. After 40, the idea of making new friends feels exhausting. But that also leaves me with nobody to really hang out with in town.
Does that mean that these friends of convenience will no longer be considered friends? I’m not sure how to answer that one. I’m sure that when we see each other we’ll pick up wherever we left off. We’ll say the normal platitudes and admit we all miss each other. But the new status quo is out of sight, out of mind.
I am incredibly grateful for the few genuine friendships that I mentioned earlier in this post. I am aware of just how rare it is to find lifelong friends like those and I’m certain there are many out there who may never experience friends like that. Especially when we take into account the reality that in this life, nothing is permanent.
For the most part, friends will come and go in the same way that seasons will change. When summer gives way to fall, we may miss certain aspects of the summer time: longer days, warmer temperatures… But we don’t cling to summer and refuse to let it go. We embrace what’s to come: cool autumn evenings, falling leaves, Halloween…
I guess what I’m saying is, yes, it’s important to invest in relationships while you have them. But it’s equally important to learn when to let go as life’s seasons change.