Monday, April 18, 2016

An American History Chapter 2: It's Hard to Find a Friend

The following is from a work-in-progress called An American History.  It's a novel.
On Sunday, I woke up late and couldn't write a thing.  Actually, I couldn't do much of anything.  It was  one of those weird lonely weekends where I was experiencing a particularly 21st century American problem: Having an entire day with nothing to do and no one I must meaningfully interact with.  So, I lay in bed watching videos on my computer, feeling a rising anxiety.  This always happened at the end of a teaching semester for me, when I had huge gaps of time that were not pre-structured.  Having huge gaps of free time tended to give me anxiety and loneliness.
I fell asleep on Saturday around 2 in the afternoon and had this dream:
I was living on earth when the Apocalypse happened--a series of atomic bomb explosions.  In the dream, I expected to be taken to heaven in some kind of a "rapture" but I was left on Earth.  I was "Left Behind," like those movies starring Kirk Cameron.   Somehow I survived (I couldn't remember how) and I found a few other survivors and together we discovered a whole different world underground, where people were safe from the Apocalypse.  When we eventually returned to the Earth's surface, everything was rebuilt, but it felt all wrong: artificial, empty somehow.  Plus our eyes had trouble adjusting to the brightness of the sun.  So we headed back underground.
I awoke in a sweat, and drank two glasses of filtered water and sent my dad a text message, asking if I could do laundry at their house.  He said sure.  Thirty minutes later, my dad, mom, and grandma arrived to pick me up. 
As my laundry was being machine-washed, we all sat in my parents living room in Brea, talking about how hard it is for adults to make friends, and wondering why this is.  I had the kind of relationship with my parents where we could talk about things like this.  It both comforted and disturbed me to learn that my parents, who are 58 and 60 years old, still have trouble making good friends. 
Why is it okay, even expected, for kids to have a best friend, but it sounds weird for an adult to have a best friend?  If anything, adults need best friends more than kids, because they have way more responsibility and emotional trauma.  Why are adults so often alone, without a best friend?  Is this an American thing?  Is it a 21st century thing?  And what are the reasons?  What are the causes?  And how does an adult human being even go about finding, and keeping, a best friend? 


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