Friendly Reminder to Myself
2/10 – Life is interesting. Questions we get to ask ourselves. Okay, I know, it never makes sense to talk about “we” when what I know is “me”. Own my own, and talk what I know about, and anyway, no one really likes it when they hear someone else speaking for them. So, forgot how I started. Let me talk about questions I am asking myself these days, kind of big old important questions too. One of which addresses the issue of isolation, for which, on face value, there can be made a case there is that. Relevant these days in my life. For suresies if you hear my wife tell it. And I say that with love and with gratitude, whether I agree or not or agree to some degree, which I’d be silly not too, and maybe I will come around by this writing time’s tick tock ending with the more generalized wonder of is isolation an issue for others of my era too. But to begin – just me.
So my wife is pretty much forever letting me know she believes I am overly isolated, as in I hang out with no one but her – yeah, the kids, but she’s talking about some approximate decade folks. And it is true. How this has happened I’m not exactly sure, certainly a beginning take would be the 2008 cross-country drive from Wareham, MA to Vancouver, WA, the subsequent settling in here to a life in the Northwest – that anchor being the blind date that morphed into my blessed 10-year marriage. The fact Jack is I did have a number of active, hang-out, do-stuff-together, watch-the-Sox, go-to-meetings peeps back there in the Bay State, whatever part of it I was habituating in at any given time, and none of those kids took the long Route 80 drive out here with me, so as to the first morning I woke up in Washington state I had not one single friend within 500 miles. Not one. Age 60. Without one friend.
And, look, now it has been 10 plus years, and through a couple of jobs before quitting that work thing way back in 2011, and a number of “those meetings’, sure, I met people and made friends and did stuff, especially with a young surfer dude named Mike from New Jersey. But after a while he moved back to the Garden State and I found myself in meetings surrounded more often than not with millennials, and – no offense – but who the Christ in their right mind would consciously choose to hang around with millennials. And then nearly a year ago I stopped going to those meetings altogether, and I started drinking coffee nearly always at home instead of the coffee shop I haunted right up the road for years, and six months or so, maybe more, my wife began the mantra of worry and isolation. Then last week I flew down to Oakland, CA (notice how all the states in this story are two letter abbreviations ending in ‘A’) and somewhere while there read in a Jack Kerouac letter to a friend that authors and artists need friends, need to be around people, and so I spilled my guts around this to my main man Gavin and his main squeeze Jen (also a long-ago friend for me) and received a bunch of feedback from then – more cogently directly clearly from Jen – that, yeah Brah, being so isolated ain’t good and you need to get your ass in gear back up there in Portland, so as we don’t have to be all worried about you and everything. Like your Susan is.
So, since I’ve been back (less than 48 hours), I have gone on Craigslist and created and floated an over 65 coffee shop discussion (no politics) group. I have also commited to attend a writer’s group Thursday night, it’s in a bar I used to drink coffee in when I first moved here to the Rose City, which is primarily to try and help me get some of my stuck pieces of fiction possibly unstuck, but could I suppose have the side benefit of maybe meeting someone I could possibly like and even get a coffee with sometime. I have also taken the loving suggestion from my Susan (“You will do this!”) to give her the house when the kids are out Thursdays, so as she gets sacred alone time, and so I’ve commited to go somewhere. And while one of the somewhere possibilities is the movies – and I’m leaning that way – the other is to dip my toe back into one of those meetings and if nothing else, for an hour at a time I’d volunteer away isolation.
These are the things I currently do – I write, I read, I go for walks, I stream cool movies and TV, I blast X and Rancid on solo rides in my car, I meditate. Yup, these are all pretty much all-alone activities, other than with the wife, who possibly is feeling a tad overwhelmed by being my one playmate. I like being alone. They say you measure a society by how well its people can sit in a chair alone in a room. I do that real good. But, I don’t know, maybe, possibly I ought to try the people thing again.
P.S. – The picture: Me not isolating.