Monday, November 14, 2005

Oh, growing up

It's cute to see all the little kiddies putting up messages in their profiles and aways about how close it is until Thanksgiving break. Then, everyone can run back to their hometown, in many cases back to Park Ridge. I'm very sorry to say, the town you left is not the town you're returning to.

Everyone expects to come back to their hometown on their first big break freshman year to have big parties, see all the kids they used to see back in the day, and get back some form of normalcy that has been in their lives for, sometimes, 13 or so years. They all expect to come back like conquering heroes: we escaped, and now I'm back, and look at me!

The sad truth? No one cares.

I don't mean that in a way to make it seem like the Freshman class in college isn't special or anything. It's not my class is hot shit anymore, either. There is a certain maturation point that, when exceeded, makes the trip home almost worthless. Towns run on the kids that are in high school, who are moving and growing and learning; they are the ones that grind the gears. We got spit out, and we're enjoying the 4 year grace period before real life starts. We're stuck in neutral in the town's eyes, somewhere between kids and adults.

It's not just the townies either. You'll go home and you'll go to that party, the one that was just like freshman year of high school. And sophmore year. And junior and senior year. God, you'll think how great it is to have the old gang back together, how ecstatic you'll be when you get to party with the same people you've known and have partied with what seems like your whole life! And then reality hits: this isn't the same party.

Everyone grows up in college in different ways, different levels, different atmospheres. Pardon me for being scientific, but it's Darwin-esque: take the same specie and put it in different pools, you'll get all kinds of different fish. It's just the way things work. Go to that party and realize half the people there you really had nothing in common with. Go to that party and find out that maybe the glory days weren't so glorious as you remember. Fuck, wait, you remember hating these same parties. As a matter of fact, you're doing the same shit you were doing when you were a senior in high school and you'd look forward and say, "when college comes, we're gonna have crazy parties back home!" Then look around.

Same party, same faces, all-new people.

When you're at the big party, find someone who you saw at all the parties but never really talked to outside (what I deemed the "party friend," who much like the "school friend" you don't talk to unless you are in that environment). The conversation will go as follows:
Hey what's up?
Oh nothing much, ya know chilling. You?
Yeah, yeah the same.
How's school going?
Oh it's going great.
Yeah how's it going for you?
It's pretty awesome at

And then you'll hit this horrible, awful pause where you'll both realize "holy shit, I have nothing more to say to this person." It could be the same kid who sat next to you in every class every year since 6th grade on, and it doesn't matter. You'll hit the rut, and then you'll both split off to find someone else and you'll go through the same process with them. Maybe some old in-jokes will come out ("remember that time...." and "") and you'll be clutching your alcoholic beverage and slamming it down to try and remember (or forget this) and sucking that pipe like you've been underwater and this is the first breath you've gotten for a minute.

Don't worry, we all go through it.

I was talking to Johnny Lange, and after the conversation we said above, we had a chat about how only that comes across. Of course school is great, it's college, and it's frankly better there than Park Ridge, how we don't really see anyone from back home anymore, how it's changed, etc. Remember when we were idealistic and we knew we were all going to last as friends? We'd come back from wherever and we always knew we had Park Ridge, or your respective town. Suddenly, you go back, and while nothing has changed, everything has. It's an incredibly unique and strange feeling.

Watch out for falling heavy cliches.

Goldfish only grow to how big their tank is. We were all sharing time in the same little bowl, were tossed out into an aquarium and expect to fit back in that little bowl again with no problems. All we have left are memories of false-greatness and of times we'll never have back. Here we are, people who identify with a town that can't identify with them anymore. Every class becomes a red-headed step-child every June, another group to be shipped off, ready for the taking by the people outside The Bubble.

This is the first time that we realize time doesn't stop for us. Inversely, it speeds us on, and as we comment about how fast it is going we don't realize that all of the talk about it just reels us in faster. One day we'll all be in a bar drinking and just be thinking, "wait, what the fuck happened?" Welcome to the start of this wonderful process. It only gets better from here.

Here's my little ps: This of course doesn't go for everyone. I'm sure someone will read this and say that I'm just a pessimist, and I'll get people who say I'm right on. I'll get people who say they have so many close friends from back home, and I'll....well that's my entire reader base. But I'd assume people would say that they have no friends from back home and can't conceive having any. There are still a group of people from back home that I talk to on a regular basis, but that number is quickly dwindling.... This is what I've noticed, and I don't think I'm the only one...but I think I'm one of the few to actually voice it.


Pam said...

You're not the only one. When I'm home and I have to run errands in the next town over (where I went to high school), I always think to myself, "Oh man, I hope I don't run into anyone I know. Then we'll be forced to have a fake conversation." THE WORST.

There are a few people who I'm actually BETTER friends with since we graduated, but for the most part, we've all grown apart. Anyone you know who says they still have tons of "good" friends at home after a year or two of college is living in a fantasy world.

Lindsey said...

I agree with Pam, even though I do not know her. I avoid seeing people at all costs because I hate having awkward convos..when we both know that neither of us give a shit. Me and Sara actually dodged people at the thanksgiving football game in park ridge because we didnt want to have the fake interactions.

I especially hate signing autographs when I go back to my hometown...

Anonymous said...

Mike, I understand where you're coming from and I can agree with you on many things you're talking about, but what about family back home. I mean, I know my little brother and sister can be annoying, but I was used to seeing those little squirts everyday and night. The dog too, don't tell me you don't miss your pup. I personally can't wait to go on a hunting expedition with my father and Sam. Also, I have to take a visit to see my ailing grandmother.

Yes, college is that middle ground between H.S. and the Real World (not referring to the mindless Music Television production), but I feel that it is these 4 years in which we, as young adults, begin to find our own identity. I can personally say that I have made a 180 degree turnaround in regards to maturity and behavior and it's allowed me to view the world with different, more philosphical outlooks. I also despise hypocrites with a fiery passion, but that won't get to me. Why, because I know I am not a fake. I know I can carry cogent conversations, especially with someone like Johnny Lange, from things regarding baseball to the outdoors.

Again, I remind you that I am in accord with the points you've presented, but there's a little bit more underneath than meets the eye. I feel we can pull more out of situations like these than we think.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Manton...ima friend of Haleys and this is such a great piece of writing...
You hit everything on the head and just say it. No sugar coating and thats what makes its awesome. Keep going cant wait to read more.