I recently went to a movie with an old friend. They are not old in the sense that they are aged nor that we have known each other for many years - three and a half to my knowledge. We are old friends because we are no longer truly friends. We were, and then some: friends, lovers, everything in between. In fact, most of what we were was in between. We parted for quite a while before reconciling on the eve of the new year, and since then something has become apparent to me and, I suspect, to him as well: we are no longer current. We are comforts in times of loneliness or of boredom when the friends we currently love in our lives have other plans. And yet we continue the "talk to you soons" although we have nothing more to say.
What is it about the past that disables us like nothing else and makes us long for it with every fibre of our being? Why do people feel the need to cling to it as though we will never see better days than we have aleady lived? It is certainly more than nostalgia; it is comfort. It is a big blanket that we can hide underneath when we don't want to think about our present lives. It is so safe because we already know the outcome - us - and have survived it.
I also think that a lot of what keeps us tied to the past stems from basic social ritual. If I see someone on a bus with whom I was friends several years ago, I must sit by them and we must both suffer the agonies of catching up and the inevitable silence afterwards for the remainder of the ride. Neither of us can read our books, nor can we put on our earphones. We are condemned. And why? Chances are neither of us (or at the very least, I) really gives two cents about our former chums current events. Yes, we wish them all the best, but will they really tell us anything in two minutes of stilted conversation anything that we really desire to know? In these situations, we get very lazy because really, who has the energy to tell someone details of ones life when one knows that the listener is really just observing social protocol. So we are reduced to sweeping generalities that we present in a very bored tone as to discourage any follow up questions that might, God forbid, spark real conversation.
Perhaps I am just selfish with my time on public transportation, but I honestly believe that most people find these situationhs awkward and uncomfortable. Ane yet we adhere to them, because if we don't, we're bastards. And at the risk of sounding like a self-declared disillusioned 16 year old who just found out how they made Mary Poppins fly and as had her hippie boyfriend dump her unceremoniously for a chick who is hippier than you, we're all so fake!
I know I'm part of the problem. Perhaps more than anyone, I can't let go of the past despite the fact that I really do want to, perhaps more than anyone. This is why I keep e-mails that I wrote to my first love when I was 16. It is why I label all my photos, to remind myself if I ever forget how great things were that I never wanted them to be forgoten. It is why I haven't been to a gay bar in nearly a year. You see, gay bars are the weirdest places in the world. There's probably three degrees of sexual separation between everyone in the place and yet these people go there week after week pretending like nothing happened. Apparently, the vapid, souless masses can let go of the past, whereas I who have had probably one third of the experiences of most guys my age in the bar will see one former lover and head straight outside. I can't live life in the present if my past is dancing with its new boyfriend ten feet away.
I feel as though I'm souless on the bus when I should be souless in a club and that everyone else seems to get it right and perhaps that's why I'm alone (FYI, I'm not lonely at the moment, I'm really rather content with being by myself at the moment, but alone is alone), not because I'm too good and just haven't found the right person as U keeps saying but rather that the reason nothing has ever lasted more than two months is because a very deep-seeded part of me is backwards. Whatever. This is just getting me worked up. I am, so to speak, Past Tense.
(PS- That's a double pun. Suck it, Shaw!)