In the existential light of “Franny” by J.D. Salinger, the collegiate actress proclaims, “I’m sick of just liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I could respect.” This is how I feel toward the stream of people I meet and run into on any given day. Though there was a time, around the rose-colored days of beginning college, where I spoke to anybody and everybody. I wanted to know and be known. I expected friendships to stick around and last, if not for the entire year, then for the current term.
The naivety slowly dissipated as I realized how quickly people disappeared, almost as easily as they appeared.
In high school, my friends were considered close. Yet, through the passage of many moons and suns, disappearing and reappearing, I came to an honest conclusion. The times we did share––hallway chatter and outings on the beach on the rare warm San Franciscan day––were out of boredom rather than mutual appreciation and respect. At Bennington, none of my old friends were people I’d want to call up when I had the urge to talk to someone from my past. They were never my first readers or confidants or pen pals. They couldn’t comprehend the joy I felt reading a certain short story for my Technology of Heartbreak writing class. It was a whirlwind of a story designed to emulate the tumultuous nature of life in its extremities. How easily the time could pass. How shallow our relationships could become if we let the wrong ones stick around for far too long.
Relationships are precarious beings, a fragility compared to walking on eggshells, whereas interactions exist solely within the moment. Never any longer, any less, than the speakers intended for them to stretch out. Relationships, on the other hand, require commitment and expectations. Once expectations have been let down, that’s when the passivity ensues, when the friendship becomes a claustrophobic hole. This is why I’d like to think in terms of interactions instead of relationships. A meaningful conversation can hold more weight than a half-hearted connection stretched out over time. Relationships are, of course, a series of interactions. But if the conversation remains pure and genuine, more often than not, then it can remain as meaningful and worthy. You allow patience to take hold of you and allow time to pass without thinking the other person ghosted you so when you reconnect naturally, you’ll be right where you left off.
You’ll be on the same wavelength.
Being on the same wavelength can be scoffed at as hippie jargon or something a drunk stranger might say on the dancefloor, but what’s wrong with those situations? Wavelengths span a great range of shallowness and depth. To paint an image, think of it in terms of trains. We’re all trains going toward the same destination––the future, our mortality––except sometimes we cross paths and share the same road. This shared connection is wonderful while it lasts but now and then, you’ll reach a crossroads and you’ll have to make your own decision of where to turn next. We bump into one other and get into the right headspace. We understand exactly what each person is trying to get at and sometimes we don’t.
It’s nearly impossible for us to connect with every single person we’d like to. We can send postcards and texts and call and call and call––but you’ll never quite understand what the other person is going through. Perhaps they decided it was best to end their journey with you along. Perhaps they’re genuinely busy or going through something. There’s always an end, a goodbye, finality before we head our separate ways. There’s nothing wrong with splitting ways; the memory lives on within us.
You’ll reconnect given the right moment.
After a party, I heard a guy once say, “We all come together to separate, and we all separate to come together.” Even if it was drunken rambling, it has stuck with me for quite some time. At a party, we congregate, but we don’t usually hang out with everybody there. We end up in our own corners or we leave for an adventure, heading toward the graveyard in the snow or the drive-thru for a midnight snack, but the initial gathering is what counts. We are on the same wavelength. If only for an hour, a minute or two.