Most of my friends are struggling right now.
Some are struggling with their currently decaying relationships. Some are struggling with the pandemically unique challenges of raising their kids in a world constantly threatening to burn itself down with every changing news cycle. Some are struggling with growing older in the twilight of their stories, often filled with late night regrets as they look back upon their experiences, sleeplessly reviewing the stubborn lists in their heads, marking opportunities missed and lamenting the paths never quite traveled.
They have questions and problems and worries and they have hurt. They are all looking for something better than what they have, though they often aren’t exactly sure what might be a more fitting replacement. They are grinding dutifully ahead, some making better headway than others, but they are all still running the race and trying their best to push back at a world so very intent on pushing them right back down again.
And, they often seek out my counsel or company.
The tragedy is that I often have nothing to offer other than my words and my unguarded observations. But I still try my best to share what little I have in the hope of helping them make it through just one more day. Or one more drunken text-filled night.
I try my best to offer genuine sanctuary here in this little blue house in the heart of the City of Wayne. I steadfastly refrain from passing any judgements or dispersions because I know just how shitty that can feel. And, I realize that I come from a long history of my own mistakes, so I simply cannot stomach the hypocrisy of being judgmental.
I just want them to just be who they are, regardless of perception or definition. Even if it’s weird. Or sad. Or selfish. Even if they can only talk from within the slippery confines of an inflatable kiddy pool filled with Costco Mayonnaise while wearing those blue rubber flippers and a steamed-up snorkel mask. Although admittedly, when it gets that weird, I am most assuredly going to steal the best moments and write about them. Anonymously, of course. I’ve never been one to kink shame.
We talk, face to face. We sometimes drink, but not always. Sometimes we sit and listen to music and simply watch another Indiana summer night roll past in the natural cycle of the
mosquitoes fireflies flying and winking from the trees. Sometimes we might even dance, if the mood is right and the playlist cooperates. Not grinding, sweaty club dancing designed to arouse and titillate, but the dance of a slow embrace of two bodies intertwined on a carpeted dance floor, swaying and spinning to the rhythm of a combined humanity, hurting.
Sometimes, we all need that room to just breathe. Or to dance. Or to sing along to a song, even if it’s horribly out of tune. Sometimes we must avail ourselves of any opportunity presented where we might just drop the baggage and burdens of a modern adult life at the door and grab that quiet moment for what it represents.
Those are things that matter at the end of another mildly isolated day in this little flyover town. Not the news screaming and screeching out carefully divisive headlines. Not the phones constantly bleeping and blinking, begging like a child for our touch. Not the pressures of a grown-up job that can often the illusion of security, only to one day leave with nothing.
In this modern world, so full of digital wizardry and tantalizing short-term wonders, attention has replaced the dollar as our most meaningful currency. And we are constantly paying off our debts to the wrong people.
Every click, like, text, tweet, post, comment, and share is being steathfully mined and monetized for all that they worth, ultimately spinning webs of trackers and targeted profiles that go far beyond conveniently suggesting that next piece of crap from China, shipped on the fly, and delivered right to your door.
People get so angry at words on a screen that they might find offensive. Or hurtful. They get electronically buried in the avalanches of nonsensical content created more to spark division than to actually inform or enlighten. They get swept up in the draining obligations of memes and playful lists cleverly designed to mine their most closely guarded secrets.
And it’s exhausting.
And most of it is just bullshit.
It is far better to unplug than to burn out. It is more durably meaningful actually conversing with someone, face to face, rather than just texting them in abbreviated LOL and LMFAO fashion. It is more comforting being held in a genuine, earnest embrace rather than receiving that smug little fucking emoji, so filled with transparently disingenuous laziness.
We need to get back to being human. We need to break the cycle of an isolation that started long before the pandemic came coughing into the scene. We need to stop being so quick to pigeonhole each other into meaningless categories. Like politics. Or religion. Or race. Or even gender.
That is what I try to share with the parade of people who take the time to actually stop by and visit. Because they are my friends and though they are all struggling, I still love them dearly and I want for them to simply find their bliss.
Everybody deserves that chance to be happy.
And I truly hope that they know that I will always be here, if they should ever feel the need to dance.