Friday, December 02, 2005

Saying Goodbye to the 'Urban Tribe'

I’ve lived 27 years on the earth, and during every one of the days that made up those years, I’ve internalized everything. So basically I’m exhausted. Can I go on forever, internalizing everything? Probably not. I’m not really sure, it doesn’t seem like it, does it?

And frankly, I’m exhausted from trying to keep in touch with my friends. Why should I? Is it worth it? Does it matter any more? Before you get married, you build this support group of friends, some would call them your ‘urban tribe.’ Whatever they are, you work hard to get them. Or not. Some people are magnets and simply attract a following. I hate those kind of people, while secretly being drawn to them like the metal shaving that I am.

Anyway, I had one, an urban tribe. It started with Mike D. We met at a rock climbing gym and started hanging out. Then I met Christy B. through Mike D. Christy B. was like a long lost sister. We hit it off really well. To be honest, at first I worried that she was a lesbian and was secretly attracted to me. Yes, I’m that vain. In spite of that fear I was immediately in love with her because she reminded me of my younger sister, Cassi B.

Mike D., Christy B. and myself formed the initial nucleus of our little urban tribe. Christy B. soon attracted larger numbers to our tribe because she’s so damn loveable. A trait for which I secretly hate her (big joke, in case you missed it). And then our urban tribe ballooned into this enormous monster and I felt massive amounts of sibling rivalry for them all. For Christy B.’s and Mike D.’s affection. Christy B. is still attracting more and more numbers of urban tribe members. Obviously I’ve dropped out of the urban tribe because I got married in June. And I secretly hate the single people I left behind and their ebbing urban tribe, because they have a club to which I no longer belong. I hate clubs.

You see all this hate I have bottled up inside me? It’s not true hate, mind you. So don’t go telling me I’ve got to stop hating so many things, because while I feel a batch of mixed emotions about many things (of which none are actual hate), I have deep wells of love and joy for an equal or greater amount of things. I rarely talk about the things I love because love isn’t as interesting as mixed emotions or hate. Yet, whether it’s hate or just mixed emotions, the lot of it is exhausting me. Twenty-seven years of feeling too much is catching up with me. It’s time to do some renovating in my soul and heart. What should I toss out and what should I keep? My friends? Are they worth keeping?

Here’s the dilemma. I think of them. Miss them. Love them and wonder what’s going on with them. But we’re in different states now. When I call them, if I do, what do they care? They have their urban tribe who matters more than I do. They’ve replaced me, and in ways, I’ve replaced them. They’re single. They want to surround themselves with single people who have the same gripes as they do. In ways we have the same gripes, but they also assume that we don’t because my main gripe isn’t “I’m alone. I’m looking for the One. Life sucks because I’m alone.” My main gripe is “Life sucks because I have no money.” Which is also a gripe of theirs, but they seem to focus on being alone. Or so I assume and which I understand because I was there once too.

So when I call them they talk about their stupid t-shirt making parties, craft night, sleep-overs with boys who will never love them like they need to be loved and their other friends who obviously love them more than I do because I left and got married and then MOVED. And our conversations end up feeling lifeless and deflated, maybe because we’re both thinking we no longer have anything in common. But we do. And that’s what we fail to communicate to each other. I think. That’s what I think.

Is it worth it to articulate all these things to my fading friends? Are friendships worth salvaging? Are they worth feeling emotionally exhausted over? I used to think the bond of friendship was the most beautiful relationship on earth because a friend sticks to it out of no real bond. No governmental, religious, or physiological bond ties one friend to another. But now I know that I can’t compete with people who are there, in Utah, where my friends are. People who have replaced me. And I can’t make my friends who have mattered to me, put the value on our friendship that I do. I know a few things only married people know: that marriage doesn’t change how much a friendship means, no matter which things you don’t have in common. It is only natural, I guess, that friends fade after marriage, but they shouldn’t fade into not existing altogether. That’s what I think.

But I’m tired. And it hurts too much to feel that sorrow after I hang up the phone. I guess it’s mainly a question of what I’m willing to deal with and sort out after each conversation. What I don’t want to say is: “You never call me. You neglect me. You like (insert a name here) more than me.” Because while that feels true to me, it may not be the truth. And also, saying it, even feeling it, is immature. And I'm never, never immature.

NB. After I wrote this I went to bed, plagued by the gnawing feeling that I had used the wrong term to describe my friends' group. Initially I used the words "urban family." Obviously that's wrong and I've rectified the mistake and have also included several links to where I first heard the term urban tribe (coined by Ethan Watters).