The high of Boyfriend’s Graduation did not last long, unfortunately. We had a lease to sign, a move to finish, and some finances to get straightened out. All the stress I had left behind came flooding back as I returned to Louisiana.
But there was a new layer of icky feelings mixed in with that stress. The drive back home gave me time to address and confront it- I was lonely. Grossly lonely. And not just because Boyfriend had been gone, I’d been staying with my parents for that month or so, I had Aberdeen that whole time. Why did I feel so isolated?
I blame nostalgia. And the Army.
Boyfriend’s rapid closeness to his classmates, the regular hangout spot, inside jokes, camaraderie, tiny dorm room, shared stress of papers and presentations… I miss college. But more, I miss having a community. There was always someone to lean on, someone to vent to, someone to hang out with- even if that just meant sitting on our phones in the same room and reading tweets or memes out loud to each other.
Most importantly, I felt like there was more than one person who understood me. More than one person who would see a headline or a shitty Facebook post and be like, “OMG did you see this bullshit.” and it made the world feel smaller, more manageable, less hopeless.
Recently one of my college roommates and I have been texting a little more than normal. Just classic friend stuff and it feels SO NICE. But at the same time it just makes me realize how much I miss having those relationships in my everyday life. Boyfriend tries, but he has a life here, friends and hobbies. I came back here to go to school online and find a part time job. Even now, three years later, I don’t have a circle.
It’s not like I’m a homebody, in fact I wish I were home MORE. I meet people at work, at Renesting, at Boyfriend’s bowling leagues. Somehow I’m keeping everyone at arms length. I’ve been writing this post in my head all month and am finally starting to realize why I isolate myself. It is, like many things in my adult life, a symptom of being raised as an Army Brat.
Making friends is part of how you survive. Someone has to show you the ropes of what ever new place you’re in and you have to pass that knowledge on before you leave. Nothing is permanent. But when we moved back to the States the same year I started high school, that system broke down.
Civilian high schoolers weren’t interested in adopting me to teach me what the hell was going on and as far as everyone knew, I was going to be there for four years and so were they. The unspoken, deeply understood culture of transience was absent.
I found it again in college. Even though the majority of my peers were from New York and I was “from” the distant land of the South, our university wasn’t home and we weren’t going to be there forever- only a semester at a time. And we had to change dorms every year anyway. We were all new, none of us had any idea what was going on and only a few had plans for when it was all over. And there, again, making friends was part of survival so I found a little community and fell in love.
But, it was temporary, like the rest of my life had been. It’s a habit now. I’ve moved twice in the past 6 months and it feels normal- highly stressful and terrible, but I haven’t had a panic attack in those 6 months.
My normal is constant preparation for change. When does the next shoe drop? What will be pulled out from under me next? If I let people get too close, when do they leave?