Forming adult friendships is daunting. I could stand to read a few how-to books from relationship experts — not unlike the time I (illegally) downloaded quite a few self-help-how-to-love eBooks from the Pirate Bay. I had broken up with a boyfriend I traveled halfway across the world to be with, and needed to dissect myself to figure out why it didn’t work. I’m not convinced I ever found the answer to the riddle, but at least time healed that wound.
I don’t know when I stopped listening to people. This started happening before moving to Los Angeles, but I’ve caught myself zoning out more often than not. Between a partner who’s an assistant director trainee and a roommate that’s an aspiring dramatic actor, when I’m the plus one to a friendly hangout at the neighborhood wing joint, I find myself to be the only person with a “normal” job. By “normal” I mean, I’m not a director, director of photography, producer, editor, sound designer, set designer or costumer. I have no desire to talk shop or read between the lines of the latest Villanueve movie. I have trouble connecting, and thus more difficulty paying attention. I remember a sleepy life in our college hometown, where aspirations included buying an affordable house, having children and to move up the ranks as a software engineer, nurse or public school administrator. I never had those same goals, which is why I never felt like I belonged there, and why at the end of the day I was willing to leave. Months and months after moving, I still feel a certain breed of homesickness. I remember walking less than a quarter mile to our friends’ houses with a six-pack in hand. I remember the land of $5 double well drinks and George Michael karaoke.
Those reveries aside, I do love it here. If I didn’t, my soon to be assistant director would very likely have a breakdown and rethink his entire life. I have long felt like the one blue blooded member of my immediate family. I am on the side of all progressive social politics. I approve of government taking a decent chunk of my paycheck in order to fund social security and public healthcare. I am okay with street cleaning. I am okay with the obliteration of plastic bags at grocery stores. I am okay with adult film stars wearing condoms. When voting in November, I took a step back when I saw two democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate. I quickly remembered that, yes, California is so blue that sometimes it hurts. I still find this larger, liberal echo chamber refreshing from our little democratic college town plopped in the middle of a state, as if Jackson Pollock used red canvases.
I love the landscapes — the forests and mountains that surround the city. I get chills from time to time, when I see the houses lit up along the hills, and I am reminded that elevation is a beautiful thing. Driving, I smile with a little bit of pride that I made it out of a flat swamp — not that I had any real ball and chain keeping me there long after my four years were through. I had just been comfortable, and I would argue that that is not always a bad thing. I made some efforts to make friends I joined in on a few day hikes with ladies brought together by common interests and the Internet. I have yet been able to form lasting connections. I imagine this is akin to one-night stands. I introduce myself. We hit it off, talking about what summits we plan to make next, where we plan to next pee in the woods on a camping trip. We gel. We figure out the series of numbers it takes to get to each other in typical Los Angeles long distance fashion. We exchange our media accounts as we descend the final few feet. Days go by. Months go by. Neither of us made the next move, and before I knew it, thirty new first-name-only contacts filled my cell.
When I was younger, I made most of my friends through extracurricular activities, but as I got older, and I was able to fill my resume with substantial experience over clubs and volunteering, those activities fell by the wayside. I have “work friends,” yet after my first job out of college, I’ve been increasingly eager to separate the business life from the personal life. I was more or less paid to be the social captain of a start-up office with just enough money to justify my position. I spear headed many an ill-attended trivia and bowling excursions. Rather quickly, all but a few of the original crew relocated to the Bay area. I could visit, but I pity the person that has to drive five hours for their only friends. I tell myself that we were never that close to begin with anyway.
Occasionally, I daydream about getting dolled up, heading to a bar and effortless floating on conversations with people I’ve just met. I am always dressed in better clothes than my own. I don’t feel or look bloated. My lipstick is never half licked off. My hair falls perfectly. I am always interesting and offer an anecdote at the appropriate moment. My zingers pack a punch. I am flirtatious without crossing a line. I never lack a place to go or souls to surround myself. I’d like to meet her before I become too old to respectfully boogie-woogie to Atlanta’s latest import.