Some find social circles and support networks to be vital. I once wrote a rebuttal to an article that admonished people that chose to socially isolate themselves. The author obviously held a strong social network to the highest regard, And if the covid-19 lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that a large percentage of people love their social lives.
But what happens when a social circle is less an oasis of peace and support, and more of a terminal illness of the soul? Well, you burn that whole darn thing down that’s what you do. Some People stay in bad marriages just to avoid being alone. That’s a sad state indeed. If you can’t be your own best friend and entertain yourself, what can you really offer another person? Is that an Oversimplification? Perhaps.
As this is a personal blog entry, This will be an anecdote regarding my personal circle and how in 2020, I finally ended a decades long social circle.
1990s San Francisco, My world was 46.87 square miles. Sure, occasionally I would traverse outside the city, but this was well before the nomad days. All my friends were in San Francisco, My music career was based there, my family was there. It was everything.
Those were simpler times back then, Life was basically Anime, movies, Video games and Hip-Hop. My close circle of friends pretty much did everything together. We always had a routine, Saturday was movie day, Sunday was video games and Anime.
But then of course, in the 2000s, adulthood happened, people had to get focused on the future. Some of us wanted to Rap and be famous, some of us wanted to get rich, some of us wanted to have good jobs and predictable stability. As 2000s grew into 2010s and ultimately 2020, Things changed, alot.
I was officially a nomad. I was born and raised in a house, sold the house, bought a house and then sold that one. I just couldn’t do it: be in one spot forever. I guess it could be argued that I got that house in the wrong city for all the wrong reasons. But as I had seen several states and a few countries at this point, My San Francisco friends were still by choice settled in San Francisco. At the time, I’d missed doing things with them, So I’d sometimes take a break from my nomading to couchsurf with my at the time bestfriend.
When I travel, I have two options I favor: AirBnB or traveler hostels. In most areas of the country and even the world, My income allows me to be able to park in either of these for weeks at a time. However, San Francisco is a far different animal than anywhere else in the country. From what you’d pay for 1 week of airbnb in mexico, you’ll only get 1 day of in San Francisco. Traveler hostels in San Francisco are even worse. I dislike some travel hostels due to shared bathroom situation, but the cost effectiveness makes this a tolerable evil. However, I refuse to go broke for it. I loved my friends, but not enough to throw myself into financial turmoil to enjoy them. So the unspoken arrangement of my holiday couchsurfing at my friend’s was that of a visiting relative and from my field of understanding, it seemed to be mutually understood in our circle.
However, opaque to me was the true opinions of those in our circle in regards to me. They weren’t outright overt, their sentiment was right out side of my peripheral. Things like lowered decible conversation once I left the room, only to get quiet as I returned. Certain people calling my house host friend, while said friend tells the caller I’m around. As to indicate (don’t say shit, he’s here).
I chose to couchsurf with a good friend, because I loved our lifestyle. We ate good food, binge watched Anime and movies, played and beat several video games. Everyday, sometimes not even aware of the clock or time, I’d step back into the past to a simpler time.
I always had my own money, bought my own food, kicked down money for utilities and kept the guest room clean. I adjusted my active times to fit that of my host; something my nephew would always make fun of me for. For all tense and purposes, I endeavoured to make myself as invisible as possible when I had to be, helpful when I had to be and low to zero impact as a guest. I wasn’t some “homeless bum” down on his luck, I was just a lone nomad trying to hold on to what he thought were his friends at one time. But the crime was still the same: a grown man in his friend’s house. For the record, a few things apply here.
I usually made the move to couchsurf during the holidays. Holidays are tough alone, even for introverts. I’d usually come by around my birthday, Getting old is easier when you have friends around to get old with. I NEVER had to be kicked out, asked or hinted to leave. I always put a clear window on my stay. My current stay in San Francisco involved grabbing a US census gig (which I was accepted and onboarded for), ride that out job out then high tail it over to Europe or Japan in Fall 2020. However, Covid-19 busted up ALL of those plans, I ended up having to restructure and recalibrate. All the while surrounded by judgemental materialist and consumerist. As I’m pretty tuned into people on several levels, I Ultimately decided to stop ignoring the vibration and landed myself in a brand new year long sentence …lease…In an apartment.
Yes, I realize I probably sound pretty paranoid right now. However, It’s not without precedent. I’ve had several awkward encounters with various people in this group over the years. See, This group of friends are consumerist, the antithesis of a minimalist. They’re the ones getting the new gaming console on opening night. They have the mercedes, SUVs and sports cars. My old friend has even spent 10s of thousands of dollars on cryptocurrency and constantly gets on my case for not buying more.
I chose not to get involved in all of that. All I ever wanted was to enjoy good friendships without the pressures of “getting ahead” and capitalistic adventures. I’m happy with the life I got now, I’m not about “pushing to the next level”. My nephew (technically son of one of those friends and I see as the closest thing to a son I’ll probably ever have) has chastized my chosen life of simplicity, judging and looking down on me. But I respect HIM way more because at least my nephew is honest and upfront in his opinion.
So it was time to go, for good. I don’t hate any of those guys in the slightest, because I don’t have room in my heart for hate. We just have different goals now, and like attracts like. I’m exploring my interest with honest eye without the consumerist crew in my ear driving home a materialist agenda.
Giving up deep, decades long friendships can be one of the hardest things one can do. You can’t get those years back, and it’s a lot harder to build a new lifelong friendship with a deep history once you get to a certain age. But if you’re getting bad vibes, you gotta do what you gotta do. Do you work it out or let them all go? For me, the choice was clear.