Out with the Old, In with the… Old

I am currently experiencing unprecedented levels of contentment. I realize this probably has a great deal to do with the fact that soon I will be leaving the United States to go live and work in South Africa. Every small, easy joy becomes gigantic. All my friends look shiny and wonderful. All the logistics I don’t think about make me feel like an efficiency master. DC has never seemed like a more fun filled city. My tiny room is a boon and having most of possessions in storage is just a time saver.

What I find most interesting is that in a physical, mental and social cleaning fit of “out with the old, in the new” I find that I have little to purge and much worth keeping. And as the clock runs down on my 6 weeks, my priorities and desires have become much clearer.

PHYSICAL

  • sentimental post high school shit was tossed before and after college
  • sentimental post college shit was tossed after college
  • non-essential art, kitchenware, bedding, books and music was tossed when I moved into my apartment in my early twenties
  • all essential items have been winnowed down to fit in a 7.5×8.5 bedroom with a medium sized closet and a single bookshelf on a shared bookcase in my living room.
  • all other worldly possessions are untouched in my parents house, either waiting in boxes for when I can expand into a one bedroom apartment or a larger shared-house or sitting on shelves making explicit which artifacts need to go.

MENTAL

I’m a person who is constantly self analyzing and in recent years I’ve learned that analysis is not the same thing as processing. In the last year I’ve become a lot better at shining the cold harsh search light onto the post-storm disarray of my mind and calling out to the rescue party below what is debris and what needs to heli-vaced out for triage and restoration.  And perhaps most importantly, what does and does not constitute a storm.

I have a better handle on what it takes to stay mentally healthy and happy. I have become a much better self care-taker as I’ve encountered the boundaries of what I must and can do for myself and what it merely nice to have other people do for me.

I imagine this happens to most people in their mid twenties, when you’re deluded enough to think you “know what’s up” again just because you finally see a path for yourself post college, post last serious relationship, post first (or second or third) job, post long-distance-friendship-transitions. I am also lucky enough to have transcended my age-cohort and have friends in their thirties. They assure me that whatever you didn’t get done in your twenties is cast off on your 30th birthday, when the slate is cleaned again.

SOCIAL

*era indicates a period of one to seven months

There were certain people I kept in my life after the constant social interaction (smothering?) that is college. As I shifted to a 335 day work year life, they made me feel less alone and more normal. They were a touchstone to a simplified time when all that mattered was a syllabus and interlocking term paper and exam dates. A time when you could simply show up at a bar and everyone you wanted to see would be there. Basically a time when you didn’t have to try to be connected.

Then there was the era* of confusing co-workers and happy hours for legit social time. Then the era* of thinking I should be dating (therein lies the mistake – never “should” yourself) and either wasting a perfectly good Thursday night or giving someone more Saturdays than they deserved. Then the era* of feeling the need to be out all the time and suddenly “going out” turned into work.

The current era of my life is more relaxed and more honest. I really like my friends. Like a lot. I’m happy that I have only a few friends I need to and want to keep close tabs on. You can really only get away with texting up to three people during the work day before people start to notice that you’re typing with your thumbs more than your four fingers. Everyone else can sit tight, do their own thing, orbit their own orbit. When I feel like going visible on GChat I will enthusiastically say “howdy” and ask how you’re doing.  Eventually there will be a Saturday night when I want to go out but I’m searching for the best option before committing to anything. Everyone’s phone will be lit up with text messages. But it is my friends who I happily will commit to days, weeks, months in advance. These friends are truly fantastic people and they each inspire me in different ways.

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