Erasing the Chalkboard

Chalkboard erased with sponge

This post wrote itself in my head in 2013 and it’s writing itself again – so it’s time I get it out in words. As with my other posts, I’m sure I’ll rewrite my mid-night ramblings more fluidly later so this post might not be the exact same if you’re reading it a second time!

I spent December 2012 to June 2013 living in Cork, Ireland. When I came home, my friends were all still there – but I’d missed so much of the daily upas and downs of their lives that it was hard to rekindle our friendship properly when I didn’t know what they’d been going through. At the time, I kind of just let our friendships fade into the ether. The people I was best friends with before I left? With a few exceptions, I know see maaaaybe once a year.

Moving Internationally Hurts Friendships – Even After You Return

Before I left for Antarctica, I’d made the assumption that this time things would be different. The new friends I’d pulled into my life were strong; our group was the kind that got together multiple times a week en masse to enjoy each others’ company. Plus, unlike last time, most of my circles were now connected to each other so it made it easy to keep everyone together.

I was wrong.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still think fondly of my friends and [I believe] they do of me too. If I called any of them and said “I need you” then they’d be there. The problem isn’t a lack of caring: it’s that I’ve been written out of their routine.

Having People In Your Life Becomes a Routine

The routine of every Tuesday or Wednesday coming over and playing board games  in my kitchen was gone.

The routine of driving to my place any weekend evening for a bonfire or a séance or just really to play with my cats was broken.

The routine of stopping anytime my friends wanted to, because most of them had keys, didn’t have a place in their heads anymore.

When my friends discovered an ad for a new restaurant, I stopped beingthe person they’d call to go try it.

When a new movie was released, they stopped texting me to go see it with them.

It’s not that they replaced me, I just stopped being someone they thought of when it came time to make plans.

No Place to Entertain

Prior to both of my international excursions I had been living in a “central hub” type location in a place large enough to entertain. I could invite people over.  I could give them open invitations to be in my life. Neither of my post-move abodes offer that flexibility.

Hell, I don’t even want to be in my current apartment. It’s hot and humid and simply uncomfortable. I don’t want to invite people over to this.

Out of my abnormally large group of friends prior to my move, I think only one friendship has stayed atthe same strength or gotten strong since I’ve been home. But even now she has a new boyfriend and whilst I don’t begrudge her time with him, it has certainly meant more evenings without someone to text.

For everyone else? It’s like a chalkboard.

How the heck is a chalkboard like a relationship?

Anyone who grew up in a school where chalkboards had not yet been replaced by dry-erase boards could tell you that an old eraser just doesn’t get the job done when trying to clear the board. Sure, all the hard lines will be blurred, but it’s just not going to make the board look crisp again.

This is kind of how I view my friendships at the moment.

It feels as if all the hard lines of relationships I had have been blurred by someone’s shitty eraser. I can still kind of make out what the words said, but the foundation just isn’t there anymore. Those whose lines were the strongest have a ton of white dust clogging up the board.

And now I feel like I have to decide. Do I grab up my piece of chalk and try to rewrite over the lines? In 2013 that didn’t work for me. No matter how many times I drew over the lines, it just couldn’t get clear enough. Those whose lines were the strongest before were the hardest to get back now. I was only able to rewrite over the people whose lines were never drawn very strong to begin with.

Now I’m facing the same struggle again and I can’t help but wonder if I shouldn’t just grab a wet sponge and erase the whole slate. Start over. Say fuck it. Is it even worth holding onto friendships that have written me out of their lives?

And How Does This Play into Monogamy?

It makes me wonder if people fall into monogamous relationships not because they have the capacity to love only one person – but because it’s hard to keep more than that in your routine. When things change, it’s easy just to let relationships fade away instead of working at keeping them up and making time for each other.

I call myself polyamorous because it most closely aligns with my views on healthy communication and the inability for anyone to get all of their relationship needs met by a single other soul – but realistically I’ve never been in more than one emotional/romantic relationship at a time. I’ve always had way too many hobbies and partners that don’t really enjoy sharing those so it has been hard enough to fit one person into my routine, let alone multiple.

But Yo, I’m Lonely

I don’t need a relationship to feel fufilled; I’ve been “single” for more than three years now and I’ve had some of the best years of my life. What I really need is just other people to be part of my routine. I need people that make sure to make time for me – and vice versa. I need people to call up at random times and want to hang out. I need that person I can count on for last-minute plans to go drive a town over for the drive-in movies 2-for-1 special.

In Antarctica, it was easy. If you wanted interaction with others you could just pop in to Gallagher’s Pub and strike up a conversation. There was almost always someone willing to chat about, well, anything really. The same people had the same off-days like [literal] clockwork. I knew that on Thursdays I could count on the same people being available to go hiking. On Sunday I knew where I could go to play DnD. Mondays all I’d have to do is walk into the main building if I wanted a crew with whom to play board games. Making people part of your routine was easy.

Now that I’m back in Cincinnati I don’t have that. If I wanted to go see a movie tonight, I’d have to hunt to find someone to join me. I posted a few weeks ago asking for someone to come over and hop in the hot tub and didn’t get a single response whereas a year ago I would have had 12. Two of our friends got married. They were people I’d now been hanging around for years. It was a small backyard ceremony and I’m not upset that I didn’t receive an invite to it. However, there was an after-party at a close friends’ house and yet not a single person thought to invite me to it or ask me if I was going. That, well, it stings a little. It hurts to know your friends have just forgotten to invite you around.

A year or two ago my dad tried to tell me that people only cared about me because I had a house at which they could hang out. It hurts to feel like he’s right.

But What About Erasing the Slate?

My current roommates and I are all parting ways in a month or two. One is moving in with her boyfriend and the other, well, we don’t need to live together anymore. I’m currently looking at apartments and deciding where to put down my next set of roots is hard.

Do I stay where I am – close to work, central to the city, but still far from my friends? Do I move closer to the friends that have forgotten me in hopes that it makes routine easier? Do I move even further away and save money on rent?

Or do I do something else completely and relocate to one of my companies other offices in Hoffman Estates, IL or Seattle, WA, or Detroit, MI? Do I say screw-it-all and hop into the Renaissance Festival circuit? Do relegate my current relationships to chalk dust on a sponge? Do I really want to tie myself down to another one-year lease in a city where I’m feeling way less than full?

(featured image source)

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