I haven’t ranted for awhile, but I just feel the need to describe something. This is to anyone who cares enough to read the things that I write. It’s about the place I live…or perhaps it’s about me, I can’t quite figure it out.
I’ve been in Oshkosh since November, and I’ve just realized that I don’t really have a single friend here, at least no one that lives up to my definition of a friend. You know, someone that you can talk candidly with about anything, someone who values your person, recognizes your soul and the features of your entire personality,and appreciates this enough to actually let you inside their head–their triumphs and struggles. Someone that’s going to be able to tell you the hard truth about the things that you ACTUALLY do and the way you act; I mean real feedback. My most basic definition, I guess, is just someone that corresponds with you honestly and lets you in when you let them in.
I have the chance of course to bump into individuals out there, whether it be at work, through acquaintance, or through random means. A lot of people I’ve felt could really turn out to be friends of mine, just haven’t really come around to that point after spending time with me . Back home, it was really quite easy to make these personal connections; once you had met someone it was fairly easy to pull them to your level, or to be accepted into theirs. People wanted others around them that would be true, good for a laugh, some company, or a drink–God, just anything. But here it’s quite different. Here it seems that people are locked into this death battle for some type of relative status over those around them. They compete fiercely with each other in everyday circumstances. They have a very set idea of what they believe, of who they are and their image. You really can’t shake this “better than you in some damn way” kind of thinking. Maybe its just because I won’t compete with them, or that I really can’t–I don’t have status at all, not much money, no car, not really upwardly mobile at this point. When I was a successful person, not too long ago, I rubbed elbows with all kinds of people–from rich to abjectly poor, from students to addicts to lawyers and even homeless. Whoever you were, I was happy to be in your level of view. I really wanted to see what you saw from your point under the sun. Your lack of money or status or mobility didn’t bother me. Just to be around you was enough. I felt a great sense of warmth getting to know different people in my few years on the earth.
I found deeper people too, not so here. I can’t seem to find anyone that feels the least bit like discussing anything beyond the reaches of their own paradigm. No one wants to be bothered with deeper meanings, symbolism in life, or a greater, grander picture. As for the people I have met so far here, its like this all boils down to your position within this system, and where you can get to in it. If you happen to vary from the upward swing, or don’t care about the money or the status then the interest level drops right off.
So far I have been really biting into the culture down here, but you know that I’m not really sure. I wonder about myself sometimes like maybe it is all in my head –or worse yet, that it isn’t them at all but that instead its me! This could be so true considering that I’ve been walking around completely blind having no real friends to give me input or feedback–my image through their filters. Regardless of the cause of the situation I feel quite helpless and more than a tad bit depressed about the whole thing. I get really scared sometimes and start thinking that all of my countrymen have gone absolutely mad, all of the U.S. completely gripped by this infinite power struggle for status or riches, their minds blinded to real meaning and beauty in life. But then the question arises: Am I so self-assured to feel that I know the meaning any better than them? God, what a position to be in.
So yeah, I’m pretty lonely, and I’m confused because I always thought that I was pretty personable and likable–deserving of real friends. But, I lack some sort of characteristic to draw people to me, or perhaps they HAVE all gone mad?
I hate this place. I came here quite optimistic, but I find that as the days go by I feel less and less like even trying. I feel a lot more like keeping my mouth shut and just doing things by myself. I feel like getting out of here for sure. I just hope that this doesn’t end up killing me before I end up making it out. Things have been happening lately otherwise that give me reason to seriously doubt myself on a lot of different issues…..to trust myself less.
We come back always to the truth that God knows whats going on, that he’s leading you down and around some trail to bring you to some destination. Trusting in the future or outcome is tough. If I look back on this in 20 years and recognize it as the penance that it is, then what? I guess I will have learned something quite profound. Until then we leave the mind to suffer.
(Matt and I talked about this topic a lot. And, he was right–he had tons of friends everywhere else but Oshkosh. Everywhere he went he made friends, before. He worked in several little tourist towns in Wisconsin, in some small cities, and around home. He made just the strangest, eclectic group of friends I have ever seen: store managers, business owners, chefs, foreigners from just about everywhere, people from rehab, doctors, old ladies (how the old ladies loved him), and just about anyone you can imagine.
Well, he did make it out of Oshkosh, for a total of about three weeks–he died just after moving to Madison. And, guess what! Only two people from Oshkosh came to his funeral (well they were related), but EIGHT people that he had just met came from Madison and even spoke at his funeral! The place was absolutely packed. And, talk about the flowers! Flowers were arriving from everywhere, and so many. We almost didn’t have anywhere to put them. Oh ya, Matt had friends. Just not in Oshkosh. He really did feel very, very alone. Matt’s mom.)