10/25/2021
Dangling

In the past couple of weeks - during my busiest weeks of the year, incidentally - I got two messages from people I haven't talked to in eons.

No, they weren't asking to meet over coffee while secretly plotting to sell me a pyramid scheme. We can't do that still. That, and as far as I know, they're both not in the Philippines, which means, yes, lucky them for not being here at this particular time. But I digress.

I haven't talked to them in eons. I don't find this weird. I would've, but I'll say I've pretty much accepted the fact that the people I considered friends all those years ago won't have me on top of their list of people to talk to for no reason. I went to school with one. I had heartfelt conversations with another, although we never really met. I don't feel bad, for life, unfortunately, goes on. It just is awkward, momentarily. When they ask "how are you?" from out of the blue, what exactly do you say?

Is everything fine? Because it isn't. But do you start with that, with people who are pretty much strangers now? Also, why am I still overthinking this?

So you go for the stock answer. "It could be better," pretty much. "But how are you?" And the conversation continues, for a few messages more, until it inevitably ends, almost always after you reply.

I would feel bad, but I'm decades removed from both high school and college. It would be pathetic if I still had those hang-ups about people not really choosing to talk to me. Well, I still do, but then, I am the overthinking kind. I have always wondered why I don't have a circle of friends of my own - like, the sort that you could message any time and expect an answer within a reasonable amount of time. I have seen many dangling conversations in the past few years - and some of them take years to continue. But I'll also say we're adults, we're busy people, and we don't always spend time talking to the folks we consider our friends. And aren't the best friendships the sort that you can pick up where you left off, never mind if it takes a year, or a decade?

And don't you have a circle at the moment? And aren't you also not answering their messages? What are you complaining about?

Okay, I have at least one hang-up, the thing about not being anyone's first choice. It's something I've carried since high school, and it's something I can't easily let go of, no matter how you prod me to do it because it makes you feel guilty and you want to feel better about your decisions. I make friends, sure. I constantly surprise myself when that happens. But I also feel distant, because I just know it's going to "end" at some point, even if these things never really end, or so you say. And I always think that I caused it to, well, not end. I did something, and now it's kept hanging. I did something, and now it's dangling, a loose thread that won't be noticed until someone decides to cut it off because, well, why was it there anyway?

What makes this particularly hard in the past year and a half is that we've all had to stay at home, that we've all had to deny ourselves the chance to talk to people for extended periods of time and for no reason at all. But sure, you can always go on one of those Zoom rooms. And isn't lockdown a good thing for introverts because they don't like to talk to people anyway? I mean, that's what the social media posts say. Well, I'm not one. And yes, sure, I live with my girlfriend, and she will have me as her first choice, the way I will have her as my first choice, and even then, we're both lonely.

And your responses...

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