After almost–but not quite–20 years in DC, I sometimes think it would be nice if I could opt for a form of selective amnesia. I never watched “Eternal Sunshine” but I more or less guessed the plot and I was thinking of something like a nice home-based machine. You allow it to connect to your social sites and your blog so it can get a good idea of a person and then it simply removes them from your memory. It doesn’t take away the memory of the events or the fun, it just means you can’t quite remember who you had them with, while at the same time leaving a feeling of not being particularly upset about it. If someone called you on it, you’d just shrug and say, “…I woke up like this.”1 Not unlike that other movie I’ve never seen about “First Dates”.
Like this picture, which is one of my favorite taken of me.2 It was taken by–at the time–a best friend, as close as family. We’d talk, e-mail or text on a daily basis, see each other regularly, and this was from an awesome, if not usual, day. This was in late April, and we were waiting on an evening-based art installation at Union Station and playing around with our new cameras.
When it came time for me to pack up and move, I moved close to her–like ‘the next block’ close–and other friends to make it easier to hang out. And I have tons of amazingly fun memories with her and other folks and for some reason, one by one, we just stopped hanging out. Some, like her, completely pulled up stakes, removed all connections on- and off-line and that’s that. While others seemed content that our “friendship” change to become a completely virtual one, which I guess is… better?
These are the people I now see at “shared-interest events” like Pride or comic conventions and because my memory nearly never forgets people, I’m stupid enough to wave, say their name, and then consign myself to 2-5 minutes of fairly awkward small talk.
How have I been? Fine. Oh, you’ve been fine too? That’s great. Well, nice seeing you and here’s where I suggest we get together sometime and you agree even though one or both of us is probably lying.3
Fun, right? Which is why it’d be so nice to have an active faulty-memory-maker. You could rebrand yourself as simply being forgetful when you’ve purposely removed the identity of the person responsible for those good times. Or, honestly, bad times too. Then you’d be the most forgiving person on the planet. “Wait, you’re the one that did that to me? No, it couldn’t have been. Not you…”
Not a very viable plan, I know, but I still wonder if that would feel better than the occasionally depressing moments when you realize you can no longer talk to this person, or that it would feel weird to visit a place you both went a lot because they’ll be there. Oddly, I don’t even need this for exes as much as I do for friends. Ex-friends? Ex-BFFs? Former Friends?
Anyway, just something that always occurs to me as my birthday approaches. So, TGIF, I guess? 😕
1 You knew I’d work it in somehow, right?
2 I’ve tried to get on the #selfie bandwagon, but never really embraced it. However, I understand it, because back in the day, our friends took pictures of us rather than keeping their heads buried in their phones.
3 I’m not calling anyone out here, but the shared-interest events have become akin to funerals in the South. Just as much of an impromptu reunion as it is anything else.
I don’t know. I rented Eternal Sunshine and I thought it was pretty pointless. I’m too good at forgetting– what was the question? Anyway, I like your blog.
here i am to also provide you with a second ping! on your phone soon (I have followed you mostly on Twitter as both my own name as as CheapBohemian, your distant blogging cousin.
i really relate to this, was just pondering this very thing myself. The group of my twenties, chosen family…yeah. Different now. I reconnected with a couple of them, hard and wonderfully, this past year, but, like you said–mostly online only! So close and yet so far.
Have never met you, but weirdly have missed reading you. Have followed your life’s big, big moments this past year or so as a fond admirer.
What are we sorts of people to one another? I have a whole lot of those, hundreds of ‘friends’ i may never meet. Hm.
Anyway. I just love what you’ve said here.
There isn’t even enough words I can pour in here about ‘Eternal Sunshine…’ to tell you how incredible the movie was, how much it left an impression on me, and the amazing performances & writing in it. See it, unlike the synopsis or basic plot, it leaves room for you to imagine or see played out much of what you talk about here. The good, the bad, the not quite so ugly.
This narrative (too) is very common in my life, and amplified in the digital age as well by once-close-now-like-a-picture-once-a-year types – and over the past few years I’ve seen friends of 20 years evaporate into the ether, a thought a younger version of myself would have found horrifying, but strangely my older self is able to reconcile. That while I’ve changed in those two decades, my friends have as well, and that while they are mired in their lives in DC, I’ve moved to NYC and our ability to relate at times over this has been strained at best. It pains me on one level, and is liberating on another – no longer do I have to be the person I was with them (or their limited perception of me), and in some ways am able to be a fuller version of myself. Which has brought me other friends, able to appreciate what I am now, but whom I suspect might age-out the same way.
Losing a connection to those things however comes at a price, one that can feel steep & sometimes crippling or even infuriating. Yet in retrospect, when it comes down to it – those people knew me when I dreamed of becoming who I am, and now they are less supportive of it (in some cases because they haven’t achieved their goals or ours aren’t nearly as aligned as we once thought), and often they were outright toxic in helping me achieve it – or be supportive, and this I realize is their struggle, not mine.
Not sure if any of that will help – but alas loved this post so much (way better than my 42 post) and I’ve got almost a decade on you – so thought I’d share…