You know what sucks? Dating. Know what sucks even worse? Trying to make friends when you’re an adult. You know what sucks EVEN WORSE? Trying to make friends when you’re an adult, and a parent, and you have all kinds of life coming at you at the speed of crap on a daily basis. It sucks out loud, and anyone who is even remotely in the same position knows this to be true. Over the weekend we took the kiddos to SkyZone, it’s a trampoline park in case you have no idea what I’m talking about. One of those big former warehouse-type spaces with wall-to-wall trampolines, I’m sure you’ve seen and/or been to one yourself. Once a month, they dedicate a morning to letting toddlers come and sneeze all over the place and our minions love it very much, so that’s what we did on Saturday. A bunch of tired parents, a bunch of adrenaline-fueled toddlers, and various Disney soundtracks on a constant loop. If you look around and pay attention you’ll start to notice something. It feels familiar, like TOO familiar. Not in that “we came here last week” sort of way, but in that “this place feels like a middle school dance” sort of way. Yuck.
The thing is, there’s a pretty large amount of parents out here that are living on an island. The pre-kid friends have other shit to do, or your kids scare the shit out of them and they MAKE other shit to do. If you’re like us, the family situation is essentially nonexistent too so it’s pretty much you, your person, and little people who between hugs seem to be actively trying to destroy you. There are days when you’re too tired to care about well…anything, you can’t muster the will to endure another tantrum, and you probably haven’t spoken to another adult in a rational setting in months. You and your person (my word for “spouse”, first and last disclaimer) are alone in the universe, floating around on caffeine and a thin shred of will to live, and sometimes even the most misanthropic of us gets an urge to make some human contact. It’s not that we don’t HAVE human contact, it’s more of an “I need to know other people are living through this shit” kind of thing. It’s here where I get to the point- at some point I was lagging behind my son (he’s 2 and our daughter is 4, first and last disclaimer here too) as we were making our way out. I had noticed a dad, probably around my age, earlier in the morning VERY eagerly starting up conversations with just about anyone who entered his field of vision. Me? I actively and passionately avoid contact with strangers at all costs most of the time. I’m not mean, I just don’t like interacting with most humans. Maybe I’m a dick, whatever. I’ve made peace with who I am so you probably should too. Anywho, this guy was CLEARLY on the “parenting island” I was describing earlier and eventually I got sucked in via his friendship-attempt tractor beam. We made a bit of small talk about music cause he made a joke about little kids and pop music, which I reciprocated with an anecdote about my babies listening to Alkaline Trio and Killswitch Engage with me until they discovered Frozen, and then I caught up with my son, and then we left. It’s highly likely I’ll never see the dude again, and it’s also likely that I wasn’t the last guy he chatted up before it was all said and done.
Parents recognize parents, and this was a textbook case of trying to make adult friends if I’ve ever seen one. It really does feel like dating, and like I said before- dating is awful. Feel free to disagree, you’re wrong though and you know it. Luckily, I met my person just before Tinder and all THAT crap became a thing, and we’re safely out of the cesspool of right-swiping, random hook-ups, and despair that modern dating seems to bring. I couldn’t be happier, cause if I’m being honest I don’t think i could do it. I think I would have to just go live in a fucking cabin somewhere, write books about the woods, and carve shit on my porch. You know, cause I’m Jack London. Not really, but I definitely don’t think I have the stomach to deal with whatever dating at this stage of my life would require and thank the stars-I don’t have to. Dating and making friends has always been awkward and shitty, but when you try to make friends in your 30’s it’s amplified. Like, Marshall stack amplified. You FEEL like that 13 year old kid sitting on the bleachers wondering if someone will dance with you. You feel like the awkward but sweet kid getting dumped for the football player. You feel like that kid who got a fucking pimple and your whole face feels like a neon sign advertising your adolescent dermatological transgression to the world. You feel like shit cause it’s a shitty thing. Same goes for trying to make friends in your 30’s with kids, it’s just hard. It’s awkward, difficult, and a lot of the time it doesn’t even work out. We’ve had a little luck and met a few people that we’ve hung out with but that’s the exception WAY more than the rule. Maybe it’s just life, “the nature of the beast” if you will. I love my wife with all my heart, ditto my kiddos (yes I did just chuckle at that one.), and we have enough on the plate that it’s not like we have time to be constantly out with friends or whatever anyway (and the less said about the added cost of sitters the better), I think it’s just nice to know you have some other people in your corner. Living through the same things you are, living in the same fucked up world that you are, and trying to raise decent little human beings just like you are. It’s the same instinct that drives us to things like music, art, etc. It’s that unity, that spirit of togetherness, that part of us that wants to be heard, seen, and to be a part of the conversation.
If the guy from the trampoline park should happen to be reading this, which is about as cosmically likely as me getting slapped by a walrus right now, I hope he knows that I get it. Totally, 100%, I get it. We’re all trying to reach out and connect, and I’ll save the deep-dive for another post but it DEFINITELY has a lot to do with how disconnected we are from each other in our text-based, social media obsessed, selfie-taking in the middle of the road taking society. I think everyone feels like they’re on an island in some way, and maybe we are. For now, I think I’ll try to keep this in mind and be less of an antisocial dick, so when this guy or anyone else needs someone to talk to I don’t look like I’d rather be licking pavement. We should all be nice, then maybe reaching out to another human wouldn’t be so god damned difficult. Unfortunately, we’re human, and we are assholes. Till next time, I leave you with this:
“We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life. We’ve added years to life, not life to years.” – George Carlin