Like what I hope to one day do with my student loans, I’ve consolidated all my social needs into a select few outlets. I have, on average, anywhere between 1 and 2 friends. Me and my partner are similar and spend enough time together that we’ve basically become one person, so they don’t necessarily qualify as extraneous social interactions.
I’ve written quite a lot about being some kind of horrible amalgam of an antisocial, deranged forest sage and some manner of toxic sea sponge that absorbs the validation and affirmation from the people around me. When you combine a general distaste for people and socializing with an overwhelming need to still be social, you get someone who tends to accidentally ostracize a lot of people while inflicting themselves too much on others.
But now the main outlet of my social interaction has left not only the city, but the continent. I’m a millennial with internet access, cute pets, a bank account and an impressive understanding of the alcoholic resources available to me, and even with all that, I think I might be bored.
It’s not boredom like I’m used to. When I was a spritely youth, I’d sit on the floor, roll my head on my shoulders, and yell for nobody to hear ‘I’m bored!’ because there was nothing available that I wanted to do. As a teenager, my boredom had morphed into an overwhelming dissatisfaction with life as a whole, and I also played too many video games so reality seemed lame because I couldn’t level up. I’m a very different person from all those other eras in which boredom characterized my existence, and the boredom has changed to match. It’s not that I don’t want to do anything, and I’m not even disappointed with life, which is a change for the better. Now, there’s stuff I want to do, but now some of the stuff I want to do–complaining about how much restaurants cost, complaining about other people, complaining about teaching, really just complaining in general–cannot have the same goal.
This is all a long explanation saying that I’m moping, generally unmotivated, and maybe only having a few friends was the social equivalent of only having one way of paying when you go out for a surprisingly expensive dinner at a place that used to have $5 kids mac and cheese which suited you just fine, but now it’s $6 and you’re not up to that kind of change.
I’ve been bouncing some ideas around for how to occupy myself through the summer.
There’s a bouncy ball in my desk. It has a smiley face. I wonder if it has opinions about politics. Looking into its black, soul-less eyes, I am left to wonder ‘would it enable my bad decisions quite as effectively as my less-bouncy human friend? Is that what I need from this bouncy ball? What bad decisions could I even make right now? It’s, like, 10 pm and I’m at home with my socks off so there’s absolutely no chance I’m leaving. Maybe that’s what this bouncy ball can bring to the table. Maybe I shouldn’t look to it as a replacement for friends lost, but instead it should be a source of new wisdom, new life, new perspective and new experiences. Or I can shove it back into my desk.
The bouncy ball is a dead end. I’ll have to look for social gratification elsewhere. This is turning from an introspection into my friendship habits into an investigation into what I can do to substitute the friend who has flown so far away that the maps are in a different language just to be fulfilled and enjoy life. Unforgivable.
I’ve spoken to at least three cashiers at Safeway in the past month. One of them could act as a viable stand-in for the next few months. But what would that say to them? How do you tell someone that you are only hanging out with them because the people you usually spend time with aren’t around? If I imagine someone doing that to me, I have the distinct feeling that I would be sad, possibly annoyed. There have been a few times when I’ll be out of the house, and I’ll run into a cat that I don’t live with. Obviously, in my ideal world this would never happen, but I’m a long way from being financially stable enough to support every single cat, so I just pet the kitties as I see them. But then I get home, and my cat sniffs my hand, and she gives me a look like she’s just watched me toss a grenade into the closet where we keep her food. And what does the temporary cat think when they smell my cat on me? Do they know they’re second best? Do they know I’m only giving them ear scritches because my kitty’s ears are not available for scritching? Is that what people with slightly more complex emotions than cats would feel if they knew I did the human equivalent of renting a replacement movie because I couldn’t find my copy? Maybe.
I could text all the other people who maybe forgot about me because of that time I disappeared for two years to get a Master’s degree.
How close is science to letting me build a functional human adult out of things I’ve had in my fridge for the last two months? Obviously, the only option left to me is to create human life, whether it’s through arts and crafts or an accident with a lightning storm and a corpse that happens to be on my roof at the right time. But then I’m left again with the dilemma of explaining to this newly born being that they only exist because someone else was in Germany and I got bored. Is boredom enough justification to build human life? I’m sure a lot of people have done that before, but do I really want to be part of a group populated by Victor Frankenstein and every parent 9 months after a power outage?
Or I could mope more.