Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I have a friend who shall go nameless because he is rather modest, but we have the same birthday and we met years ago via blogging.
He's a great mentor to have, being a sapient eleven year older version of myself (if I manage to turn out alright, that is). With age comes experience. I feel that we have had similar experiences but he is someone who has had more and come out on top. Of course, he still has problems to complain about. We all do.
If we didn't life would be boring. If life were boring we would invent something. If we invented something it would have new problems. Back to square one!
Through his rapier-witted humour and tell-it-like-it-is-ness but also his friendliness and hospitality, I've come to value his opinions and appreciate his company. I think everyone needs a couple people that are always there for them, no matter what but who won't sugarcoat the truth when you need a lesson about the hard knocks of life. He's that for me.
Originally, he encouraged me to move to the city and he has continued to help me build contacts so that I can really be a success! In a way, I don't know if I would have decided that it were possible to come here if it weren't for him. He's a fantastic support and his encouragement just made it seem easy. Finally by my late twenties I moved to the city that always called to me and I haven't looked back. Well, ok, I have looked back. I enjoy my memories now and then. :)
Now that it is coming up to my first year anniversary of making it in this city (and the day after the anniversary of both our births), I realize how important it is to keep looking forward. Just before I do though, let me explain a bit more and I would like to share some of the banter we txt and email back and forth, to get each others goat.
We always do this thing where we call each other random things. He will say that "you're" whatever he happens to be thinking or seeing at that time, things overheard from others in public or something to make you roll your eyes, as in: you're "blame storming" or whatever cliche phrase or issues reporters happen to be throwing around at any given time; things people say that may have some truth but seem to cause more stress merely by thinking of them than being blissfully ignorant like: you're "you know, drinking from an old Brita filter is actually worse for your overall health than not using a filter at all" or "you know, bananas are going to be extinct soon", you're "fracking", "we couldn't have done it without all our wonderful volunteers" etc.
There's also a "that's me" joke that is often used for self-deprecating and hilarious purposes. It's something not everyone understands. I could point at an old, balding man carrying rubber chicken and say "that's you" and my friend would understand and laugh. You, my reader, might not. It is kinda a "had to be there" kind of thing. Fair enough. We find it funny. Moving on.
He told me straight up yesterday: "See, but now the thing is, when you're thirty, [my real or fictional age in this post] it's like you really have to get things together. You don't want to be forty [my friend's real or imagined age] then thinking about changing jobs." I don't know if I agree with that —these days we're projected to have six or seven careers in our lifetimes, not necessarily one teaching career, one career as a businessman or a doctor and a pension after retiring at sixty-five like our folks but I have been a little worried about being able to retire, being able to be responsible, to support for a family —a family I still haven't had time to start or really work on because I am not a doctor, lawyer or teacher. Most of all I hate the uncertainty: will I ever have a stable, engaging, worthwhile profession to hold onto? However, if the 30s are really "the new 20s" then maybe I can still dream? One thing is for sure: I can't stop working hard to find something I love to do! On the other hand, I need to take care of myself and rest so that I have enough energy to work hard.
My friend jokes about how people start to mention that he's not "that old" they will say. But then you realize that "that old" is relative: "You look like you could be my father's age"...Ouch. As you get older, you may want to be experienced and wise, but it's not so much fun when it's the bags under your eyes and salt n' pepper hair that gives it away. You can't go out all night and roll out of bed the next day ready to take the world by storm like you did in college. I still want to think we can change our minds and get another chance, that "every day is a winding road" -Sheryl Crow. We still dream for immortality! But responsibility sets in...
For me, advancing my career and being stable enough to settle down at thirty five seems challenging at this point. I could have a job and a get-er-done attitude and pull it off, but will I be happy? To be a plumber or to get a PHD. On the other hand, some things can't wait forever. I am considering going back to school for the third time since high school. I used to think I would be married and have three kids by the time I was in my mid twenties!
So, we share our experience of aging together. We watch our weight. We nag each other about whether we made it to that interview or remembered to cut down on the carbs. He shows me tricks on how to save money. I learn to comparative shop. I learn not to be reckless. I learn to be subtle. We ply each other whether there are any budding new life opportunities or leads that could prove prosperous. We pat each other on the back when we've made a proverbial score.
Last night we went out and polished off some wine on patios in kensington market for our birthday and then we went over to a friend's house where we were served copious amounts of ice cream and popcorn. I couldn't resist. My friend couldn't either. He resisted better than I did though after a few spoon scoops. I almost finished the carton!
Today I am sitting in my room in a shared house where I pay rent. There are multiple fans on and I am shirtless as I type this (not to make you picture something you don't want to). It's been a week long heat wave where with the humidity, it feels like 45 degrees. You never stop sweating. You wake up in puddles. I realize there are others in this world who are starving and dying of drought. This is not quite as bad as that. Meanwhile, my friend sleeps soundly in his air conditioned condo. I am in a muggy and self-loathing mood, only regretting last night's regalia for the physical consequences that have transpired (I had very little sleep and ate too much). I have started working out in the last few years to keep off the pounds. I have had to start working in the last few years. But today working out would simply not be feasible. I have just enough energy to txt my friend something similar to what he has already told me:
"The worst thing about 30 is you eat some ice cream one night, you see the fat the very next day. It's like it just fills some cream pocket in your stomach and pops up to say hello! What you never thought you'd see me again? I never left! I came to stick around. Here in this hot sticy muggy hell. But I guess you don't care about silly 30 year old problems what with your established 41 year old condo with constant air conditioning to keep your waifish body from exhausting trying to heat itself"
(I am goading him by ridiculing that he's worried about his figure when he's actually quite fit and boosting him with the fact that he has things together —something I envy). He appreciates it. We always talk to each other this way. It might read aggressive and hostile but that's the way we joke.
There is a pause of several minutes, then my friend texts (txts) back:
"I'm scared to see how hot and humid it's going to be tomorrow"
I am more so. The threat is imminent.
But what does he have to be scared of? He doesn't even need to go outside. It will be air conditioned in his office once he gets there. Is he pushing my buttons cause he knows I don't have air conditioning once we're both off work? It's hard to decipher tone through text. But no, because he offered to let me sleep on his couch so that I can actually sleep. My apartment will be sweltering as they are predicting the pinnacle of the heat wave tomorrow. I will be safe in his condo, protected from the devastating effects of the climate, shielded within a comfortable cool.
What are friends for? For keeping each other from going insane.