This week, in the lead-up to the first FFF reissue post, I have not been feeling very creative. I have, on the other hand, been watching a hell of a lot of Project Runway, in which people are constantly being creative. Inspired by that most transcendental of reality TV shows, I am going to attempt to apply typical Project Runway maxims to the creation of this post. First and foremost, I must “make it work”, which in the current context I will generously consider achieved if a blog post of any kind is produced. Secondly, I will “edit, edit, edit”. So this will be short. Thirdly, and most importantly, I should not, at any point, be “literal”, in my interpretation of the week’s theme.
So as I drove home from boot camp at a gym called the SPEED Institute, in a car, going at a particular SPEED, I made sure to ignore all of these far too literal potential blog topics and encouraged my mind to wander. I did eventually get to thinking. My thoughts were about the trajectories of people’s lives, and how they impact long-term friendships. At this point I remembered my high-school physics, so I will note that what I’m really talking about here is velocity, which encompasses both speed and direction.
Before Facebook was invented, I used to wish that the people I interacted with every day were selected not by happenstance, employment or geographical location, but rather by their importance in my life and simply my love of them as people. If I could gather together my best three friends from Beecroft Primary, say, along with a lovely German girl who worked with me in a bed shop in London, plus my high school girls, favourite friends from the uni era and early jobs and so on and so on, I could make my social life more like a Best Of compilation than a random radio station. Facebook came along and did this to a small extent, limited by the fact that a surprising number of people I like simply aren’t on Facebook or never post.
I have a friend who has complained to me a number of times that she used to have a wonderful group of friends with whom she’s lost all contact, because she doesn’t like using the computer. She made it clear that she feels primarily guilty about not staying in touch, which I thought of as an odd reaction. Surely you’re harming yourself more than anyone else by opting out of your friendships?
I too don’t regularly contact some of the friends I like very much; again it’s circumstance, living far away, and other aspects of life trajectory. I am amazed at the impact having children has on your social patterns. This is very evident in just the age distribution of my friends in Singapore. Because I had children “young” (by highly skewed, middle class standards), most mothers I meet are 5 to 10 years older than me. The fact that most of my friends here are 5 to 10 years older than friends from my pre-children life demonstrates to me how many of my friendships have been formed around children. This, and the “expat experience”, is excellent in that you befriend a more diverse range of people.
I occasionally wonder whether having had children a few years earlier than most of my friends will tilt our relative trajectories, as my interest in conversations about preschools and phonics dulls at an inappropriate speed.
Recently I was visited by the lovely Tabitha and Nathan, and rather than letting them sleep or shop, I dragged them off through an obstacle course of mundane exercise routines, children’s gymnastics classes and probably grocery runs too. I wonder if this was an attempt to force them temporarily on to my trajectory, to inflict a little of the closeness that geography would steal away.