Month: October 2016

Exit 129. I wish you wouldn’t worry, let it be.

Friday night, I was home, doing nothing, and I broke down crying.

It wasn’t completely out of nowhere.  It happened while I had my music on shuffle, and this song came on.

If you are anti-country music and don’t want to click the link, look up the lyrics; if you’re not willing to do that, then the TL;DR version is that he is singing about all the things that he wishes he could go back and tell his teenage self.  As with many works in this genre, the general tone is along the lines of “everything will be all right, life gets better.”

And I started crying because I feel like everything is not all right, and life has not gotten better.

Now there are certainly some specific situations for which I could tell my younger self that they aren’t worth getting worked up over in the long run.  Like in elementary school, pretty much everyone, even random strangers, made fun of me and called me names, but if I could, I would tell my past self that there would come a time a decade or so later when that wouldn’t happen very often.  I can’t say it never happens anymore, every once in a while I get random jerks driving by and yelling rude harassing comments out of their car windows, but this is definitely the exception rather than the rule, and I have real friends now too.  And in high school, regarding one of the times I told a crush that I liked her and she didn’t feel the same way back, I would tell my past self that it wouldn’t have worked out anyway, because she would come out as a lesbian in her 20s.  I don’t know if that would have made me feel any better back then, but it’s true.

But, for example, the Brad Paisley song contains this lyric:

You got so much up ahead
You’ll make new friends
You should see your kids and wife
And I’d end by saying have no fear
These are nowhere near
The best years of your life

I can’t tell my past self to get over rejection by a crush because “you should see your kids and wife”… I’ve never had a wife or kids.  And sometimes high school and college do feel like the best years of my life, because life was a lot less complicated then.  I had a lot more in common with the people surrounding me simply because of my place in life as a student, and I didn’t feel like an anomaly everywhere I went.  Yes, it’s true, things may get better in the future, and I may have a wife and kids someday.  But at the time the song was written, recorded, and released, Brad was younger than I am now.  It’s easy for me to expect that it should have all happened by now.  And all of that just came washing over me like a flood on Friday night.  That is why I started crying.

The song ends like this:

I wish you wouldn’t worry, let it be
I’d say have a little faith and you’ll see
That’s what I need.  Don’t worry, let it be.  There are a lot of circumstances I can’t control, and as I’ve said many times before, I need to find ways to accept what is and make the most of it.  And there are many people who have things a lot worse than me.  Things aren’t so bad after all.

Exit 128. What are you doing in town?

Earlier this week, I got to thinking more about something that I had omitted from last week’s post, the one about Davis (so you might want to read that one first if you didn’t already).

When I was in Davis last Sunday afternoon, I briefly ran into a guy who I knew from the church I attended when I lived in Davis.  He and I lost touch after I moved away, but we got back in touch about a year ago.  When he saw me, after saying hi, he asked, “What are you doing in town?”

It’s a perfectly natural question to ask when you see someone in your town who used to live there but doesn’t anymore.  If I were walking down the street in my own neighborhood, and I saw someone I know who used to live here but has since moved out of the area, I would probably ask the same thing.  But what was curious about this was that it highlights one of the interesting things about Davis that I mentioned last week: while statistically, Davis is part of the greater Sacramento metropolitan area, located just 15 miles from downtown Sacramento, Davisites often think of their community as its own little world.

I didn’t think of myself as being out of town.  It was only going to take me a little over half an hour to drive home.  I know lots of people who live on the same side of the Sacramento River from me, but about equally far from me as this guy, who wouldn’t have thought of me as an out-of-towner if they saw me in their neighborhood standing at a salsa bar waiting for someone who was using the ladies’ room.  Furthermore, I am in Davis quite often.  I have friends there who I have met through my dancing and board game groups, who sometimes invite me to parties.  I return to the UC Davis campus several times a year, for football and basketball games and Picnic Day.  In fact, I was there again in the time since I started working on this post, for a football game (the Aggies won, yay). In my mind, a trip to Davis is not a trip out of town.

There are a number of possible reasons for this mentality among Davisites.  Being a university town, Davis draws many people who did not grow up in the greater Sacramento metropolitan area (as I was when I moved there in September 1994).  Unlike many other communities near Sacramento, which all run into each other and even extend into adjacent counties, Davis is surrounded by farmland, separated from West Sacramento by six miles of open space and flood bypass.  The progressive political slant in Davis also seems to lead some individuals to think of a distinction between themselves and residents of other more conservative communities.  But this is not what I wanted to write about today.

The whole experience got me thinking about how my life is so spread out geographically.  My social life extends across three counties, and my work is in a fourth county.  And, more importantly, very few of the people I spend the most time socializing with live within 10 miles of me.  My social life started moving away from my neighborhood in 2008, when I started hanging out with dancers, and after leaving my job in 2014 and leaving my church in 2015, I really have very little left in my neighborhood other than my house.  This geographical separation makes it much more difficult to make, keep, or participate in last minute social plans.  (Davis, for example, stands in contrast to this, as there do not exist two points in Davis that are more than 10 miles apart.) I can’t make plans during the week without advance planning, and even then I can’t always do things without sacrificing sleep or things that need to be done around the house.  When I make plans at the last minute, it is equally hard for friends to come all the way down here.  The most recent time I invited people over at the last minute, six people showed up, which is two or three more than I expected.

So what do I do about it?  I don’t know.  I don’t know if I can do anything about it, other than accept it and make the most of what I have.  If I move closer to work, I would be moving even farther from my social life, to a smaller town that seems to be dominated by families with roots in the area.  If I move closer to friends, I’d be moving farther from a job that is going well, and I’d have to go through the hassle of selling the house.  Making new friends closer to home sounds like the obvious choice, which could also tie in with looking for a church closer to home*, but my area is mostly families, and the churches around here are mostly family-oriented, so it is not as easy as it sounds.  I haven’t figured that out yet.

(* I am currently not actively looking for a church closer to home.  The church I’ve been attending for the last year is about 13 miles from my house.)

 

Exit 127. A very unique place.

Yesterday afternoon, I had lunch plans in Davis. Afterward, since I wasn’t having a very busy day, I just drove around for about 45 minutes before I started to head back toward home.

Davis is a small city of 65,000 (yes, that’s considered small around here) in Yolo County, California, about 15 miles west of Sacramento and 70 miles northeast of San Francisco.  It is adjacent to a large public university, which I attended from 1994 to 1999, and for the most part surrounded by farmland.  Davis is a very unique place.  It is a classic example of a college town, with a significant portion of the population, economy, and culture dominated by the university.  Also, somewhat because of this, Davis is one of the most bicycle-friendly communities in the USA, with many miles of bike trails and greenbelts that I spent much of my late teens and early 20s exploring.  Statistically, Davis is part of the Greater Sacramento region, and also not far from the outer reaches of the San Francisco Bay Area, but Davis is also isolated enough to feel like its own little world in many ways.

Had I done more research on the city of Davis while I was choosing colleges, there is a good chance I would not have gone there.  Davis, being dominated by the university, has a pretty extreme leftist slant in its local politics, and in my teens I leaned even farther to the right than I do now.  But, the longer I lived there, the more it grew on me.  As I have written before, I became a Christian while a student at UC Davis, and I found a church there that felt like home.  I stayed in Davis for a couple years after graduation, because by then it was my home.  I had a job within commuting distance, I had friends, and I was active in a church.  I thought I was going to settle there, although circumstances took me in a different direction.  I lost that job around the same time that most of my close friends moved away, and I followed suit and moved away in July of 2001.

On a few occasions, particularly when life seemed uncertain and I wasn’t sure what step to take next, I’ve considered moving back to Davis.  But every time I’ve given this more than just a passing consideration, it has felt like a bad idea, at least at the time.  Davis is a great place for a college student, which I am not anymore.  Davis is a great place to raise a family, which I don’t have.  Davis is a great place for hippies, which I will never be.  But at this point in my life, it’s not for me.  I’m not saying that middle-aged singles can’t be happy and feel at home in Davis, and the argument could be made that I fit in just as poorly where I live now, since it’s mostly families.  But knowing what I’m like, if I were to move back to Davis, the temptation would be too strong to live in the past and deny the reality that it’s not 1998 anymore.  And that’s not healthy.

Seasons change.  Things come to an end.  I’m not in Davis anymore, and it’s not my home anymore, but it’s still very close.  So I’ll just have to settle for visiting occasionally, and driving around reminiscing if I have time, building on what I have learned in the past to create my future.

Exit 126. But ask me again tomorrow.

Yesterday, I stayed home and had a nice relaxing day.  The day ended with me on the couch binge-watching five episodes of Castle on DVD.  (If you’re wondering why I’m still binge-watching on DVD rather than using Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime, I only have to pay for DVDs once, and I don’t have to worry about the network being down or my show getting pulled from my service provider.  But that’s another topic for another time.)

Castle is a crime drama set in New York City, about novelist Richard Castle and homicide detective Kate Beckett.  Castle consults with Beckett and her precinct, an arrangement that began when a serial killer was copying murders that happened in Castle’s novels.  Castle uses Beckett as the inspiration for the main character of his new series of novels.  At first, Castle and Beckett have these awkward do-they-have-feelings-for-each-other-or-not overtones, and their relationship gets explored later in the series.  The show recently concluded its run of eight seasons.

I have currently been watching season 4, which aired in 2011-12; this was the first season that I actually watched when it was on TV.  Season 4 is the creepiest to me… but not because of any of the murders depicted on the show.  No, season 4 is creepy because of how it predicted my life.

A side plot running through the first half of season 4 involved Castle’s red-haired daughter, Alexis, and her long distance boyfriend.  Alexis was in her final year of high school, and her boyfriend had just graduated and moved three thousand miles away to California, to attend that snooty university that I don’t name in this blog.  Alexis was rearranging her life around their long distance relationship, making plans herself to move to California and attend school with her boyfriend.  In the meantime, the guy was blowing off their Skype dates, taking his sweet time in calling and texting her back, and just generally not making her a priority.  Eventually, Alexis gets tired of being treated like that, and they break up.

I first started watching Castle in the fall of 2011 on the recommendation of my red-haired girlfriend at the time, the one I call Acrux.  She had just moved five hundred miles away to the other end of California.  I was rearranging my life around this long-distance relationship, assuming that once the school year was over, I would move to Acrux’s part of California.  In the meantime, Acrux was blowing off our Skype dates, taking her sweet time in calling and texting me back, and just generally not making me a priority.  Eventually, I got tired of being treated like that, and we broke up, about a month after the episode with Alexis’ breakup aired.

(There was another episode at the end of season 4 that also predicted something big that happened to me a couple weeks later, but that is also another story for another time.)

Alexis’ breakup happened over the phone, and Castle walked in on the last part of the conversation.  He asked her if she was okay, and she replied, “No.  But ask me again tomorrow.”  I wasn’t okay when Acrux and I broke up.  And it takes me a while to feel okay, mostly because I’m not in high school, I’m pretty picky, and opportunities to meet significant others are few and far between in my life.  But, almost five years later, I am okay with this breakup.  Acrux wasn’t right for me, I’m better off without her, and I’m okay with that.  It took some time to get to that point, and there are other things and people I haven’t completely dealt with right now.  But ask me again tomorrow.  Ask me again in a week, in a month, in a year, and I’ll be ok.

Everything will be ok.

Someday.