Sunday, August 12, 2007

Summer's Almost Gone...


I would have posted something poetic last night. I was feeling poetic. I was feeling positively fourteen. It began as I was driving down I-295, passing the exits for Mount Holly that would probably have taken me to my friend L's house, passing the exits for Camden and Philadelphia, going further and further south to places I've never seen before--this feeling of being fourteen (outside of the driving part. since I did not drive when I was fourteen.) It was this feeling - now how did I describe it when I was fourteen? - "of loneliness" that is physical - not quite painful, though. My fourteen-year-old self described it as having a Tupperware container somewhere inside you, in your gut or something - an emptiness whose boundaries and shape are defined. I don't know how accurately that fits, but it was sort of like that, this feeling of a loneliness bubble in the pit of my stomach. As a fourteen-year-old, I always asserted that it was better than complete emptiness - that bubble (or "Tupperware") - and it's true. How I was thinking, as the silver Sunfire and I plunged further southward, was like I was holding onto that "bubble," touching it with my hands to learn more about its shape--as opposed to ignoring it.
I felt this way again as groups of people were leaving my friend T's going-away party, as it got dark and the Christmas lights got turned on, as the food got packed away. I felt this way as I was driving home and would have come back to write something about it, but my face hurt too much. That very unpoetic thing --a toothache --just wiped out all thoughts that make for good writing.
- - -
So, a few days after posting my last post, I got e-mailed a comment on it from CC, and I realized I had NO IDEA what exactly it referenced. I went back and saw that my last post was all over the place, without clear breaks to show when I was jumping from one topic to the next. Oops. Oh well.
Anyway, last night/this weekend's feelings fit with a draft post I started during the week, so I'm going to combine it with, I hope, less disastrous results.
- - -
As the summer is winding down, I'm realizing how little went according to plan. Originally, after my adventure in France, I was going to have an adventure in the Pine Barrens, working at a research station and living in the woods. This would only be 6-8 weeks, after which I would move into my New Brunswick apartment and work at low pay, at whatever hours I wanted, in the herbarium. I would live near all of my Rutgers friends. T was even living down the road. (I can see, from my bedroom window, her house.)
But I guess only one adventure is allowed per summer. A grant did not come through, and I could not get paid by the Pine Barrens. It was very lucky that I found this internship in the planning department of a local environmental non-profit. Didn't I even say, once, that working to preserve open space and nature in New Jersey was what I ultimately wanted to do?
Originally, I planned to live the New Brunswick summer life - going to the not-as-crowded bars and parties, having dinner with my friends all the time, hanging out with my neighbor T whenever I wanted, all of it is in this un-air-conditioned, humid, sweaty haze. It would have been great.
Instead, I had to live with my parents yet another summer, the fourth consecutive summer in which I worked in Montville Township!!!!!! There's no adventure there!
And so I worked a forty-hour week, sat in rush hour traffic, had only a little time here and there in mornings and evenings to get things done and/or socialize before the weekend - those two days a week that are like gold to someone working a forty-hour week - arrived. The weekends were taken up with socializing and driving all over New Jersey to do it.
The result is that I only saw my friends a handful of times, which was especially sad considering that some of them are moving away. And now that it's the end of the summer, my time to see them, to change the pattern I'd gotten stuck in, is up.
Now that there's only two weeks left of my internship, it seems like altering my routine is not going to happen - and even if I do, I'll only get to do a few of the things I wanted to do. For awhile I was in this really good habit of going for a walk twice a day (before and after work) and practicing the piano no less than five times a week - beginning by keeping up with my Hanon exercises and scales instead of just launching into a song and crying because I couldn't play it. This faded into forty-hour-work-week-mush. I hope this is just a summer thing, and not what I'll be doomed to after school ends. I hope that, with effort, I can get out of that rut.
Anyway, I wrote last week about this realization - that this will not be the summer in which I finally accomplish all those plans. I never even finished writing my summer To Do list. I didn't finally go through everything I owned and decide what I need, what I'd like to keep around, and what I could once and for all let go of. And this will not be that summer. I'll be lucky to go through one desk drawer. This was not and will not be the summer in which I learn how to play the Moonlight Sonata, to play guitar, or even to drive a stick shift. I won't learn how to spin my own yarn or make currant wine. I didn't read Chaucer or twenty novel-sized books or have an awesome garden. I didn't pick all the fruit I wanted. I didn't make wild blueberry jam. I didn't even finish my plastic bag purse. I didn't see most of my friends more than a handful of times. Should I regret this? I don't know. It was a fun summer, overall. I met some cool people at my internship. The few times I did see my friends, I really enjoyed.
I just couldn't help being sad as I walked around my friend T's house last night at her going-away party. (She is going out of the country for a full calendar year.) Everything was making me a little sad - seeing old photos, seeing kids running around, seeing people in our age group with kids - I guess "sad" isn't the right word, but I was thinking how time just gets away from us, how things change so fast. They don't change for the worse - but sometimes, instead of just being happy for what is, I miss what was. Maybe this is the wrong attitude to have.
My friend will only be gone for a year, but there's just something sad about friendships where you saw someone every day dissolving into once-a-month-if-you're-lucky-I-mean-we're-both-just-so-damned-busy relationships. When I see these people, I feel like we all just can't talk quickly enough, to get all the words out, all the stories, all the catching up of the past year. As well as the reminiscing. Now I'll acquire a new set of friends to see every day (housemates, new classmates) and this inner pouty child wants to say, "But you're not them!"
(Well, I guess we can make new friends without betraying our old friends.)
But it does make me feel lonely to think how few friendships prevail, as though we just replace our large group of friends from one phase of life with another. Are we all that replaceable?
And then, those friends that we do keep, that we maintain the same feelings for, but don't see as often - what happens after a break of one or more years? Is it awkward? In some ways, you can just fall into your old ways with people, but there's always some gap, some kind of awkwardness, some feeling of, "What do I do now?"

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