a glob of nerd­ish­ness

Friendship and friction

published by natevw on Subscribe

[ed. note — I'm posting some lightly revised posts I started a looong while ago but never finished/published. This draft had a `last_modified": "2016-08-27T06:54:13.650Z"` and may have been started earlier.]

Last month, &yet closed its physical office next door. By that time, several of my friends there had already left or been let go. The rest moved half-heartedly to a room in the regional co-working space. I haven't seen them since. Admittedly I'd taken our proximity for granted so much that I hadn't seen them much before the move, either. But still: we were neighbors, and now we're not.

At the end of next month, I'll be losing my own little office, and the people up and down the hall outside it. Here too, the arrangement started with a large number of friends (who I often took for granted), and has gradually dwindled to a small number (who I may rarely see again). Some of them may end up in their own rented room, in that same co-working space. Others may just go back to working from home. I might too.

"Long distance" relationships are particularly hard for me, and probably even more so when it comes to friends. Why so much friction? Well, is it weird to send a Former Colleague a message out of the blue just to say "hi" to him? To travel to their city because it's "been a long time"? Even just across town, is it A Professional Thing to suggest buying lunch together somewhere, or is meeting for coffee less of a big deal? (Do they even like coffee? I bet they're probably really busy anyway. Safer to wait until I need a specific favor, to email and let them know I… care? miss them? found them useful? Come to think of it, they must remember how selfish/annoying/overdramatic I was; they're probably glad I don't bother them anymore.)

The (superficially incidental) camaraderie of an office environment helps me cope with these feelings.

But starting over again, as a daily visitor to a shared desk across the noisy highway, I'm not feeling up for. A co-working space is awkward to me: "Hi, I need a subscription to Human Connection, should I swipe or use the new chip?" I've lived with that discomfort before: hey, for a while, I was the one emailing the receipts! I know it's a mere formality, a necessary weevil, a minor background detail. But it's there.

"It's there" of the co-working space also reminds me "it's there" — not "here". The space itself is in another part of our suburban sprawl, an interesting part, an overlooking-the-river part, but not a part I'm in the habit of visiting. I'm not sure it's in "my" part of town, if that even means anything here in the Tri-Cities. I really have no idea what "my part" is most anywhere, anyway… There's things I owe my family, namely: the things I owe my clients. Everything else ends up as a useless distraction from suburban survival.

So I've been browsing the RVs and campers on Craigslist. I'm looking for something I can park my lonely 9-to-5 into, for as long as I know. Something we could start up and drive, when there's somewhere to go.

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