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).


Cinnamon Spider said...

It is very sad when friends drift apart. I'm probably the wrong person to give advice to because I tend to push my friends away. Not sure why, possibly trust issues, I don't know.
Do your friends ever call you? If they don't then perhaps they're not interested and friendships are worth salveraging, but I guess only when both people want to salvage them. If it's not worthy it then don't bother.

Thomas said...

I have never heard of these type of people.

Anonymous said...

yer dreamin, like I will ever drift from bein yer friend, and Christy B will always be in love with yer sorry arse. So quit readin inta things too much and enjoy yer life before it leaves you and yer left with nothing but boo hoos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Deararies327: It truly has been too long. I loved this blog...I feel the exact same know of my situation from the past year, and even though I am single again, everything you explained still remains. Why do we make it so hard to stay in contact with our friends? Are we all really that busy?

Perhaps my problem is my secret desire to just be alone, because it's easier to want that right now, to not reach out to anyone--like I'm avoiding any kind of depth to my relationships because it opens up valleys of emotion that I honestly want to avoid. And then there's always that damn trust issue. Maybe I tend to avoid some relationships because I feel that some of my friends can't relate with they won't understand, and it really is just too hard to go through the emotions of what you're's easier to sit at home watching TV and/or reading a book and shutting yourself out from the world. It's not that you don't want to talk or be with your "tribe," it's just that you feel safer being by yourself. Isn't that weird? Don't tribes protect one another? Don't they want to help? Apparently, I don't trust my tribe sometimes...back to the trust issue. It's hard to trust people with your emotions.

But even with the friends I have that CAN and WILL relate (like you), it's like I don't want to make them listen to me go on about my insecurities and struggles...and by admitting to those things sometimes makes me feel like I'm not OK. And I desperately want to be OK.

So the solution most tend to gather, I guess, is to become passive. Lukewarm. Just do what it takes to get by. I've got to NOT do that.

Your blog inspired me to bust out of my shell a really is time. I've made some serious adjustments up to this point, and now it's time to keep moving on and continue adjusting.

Even though adjusting wears me out. It takes more than most people think.

I do miss you and think of you often. You are and will always be a constant for me. I LOVE your writing and insight--this blog helped me a lot.

Merry Christmas Nic!

Matthew said...

I think friends tend to grow apart, in some or in most cases. I'm sorry that you have these feelings because of a perceived loss.