Distance

Does anyone ever think life is as fun after college as it is in college? If you went to Georgia Tech, then the answer is probably yes, but for everyone else it’s more of a unilateral no. Obviously the reasons for this are extensive, but I believe that they are not as clear as they seem. Is it the responsibilities of the “real” world and an everyday job? Is it marriage, or kids? Is it the friends you had in college? Or a complete lack of acceptable reasons to perform a keg stand?

After four and a half years of experience in the matter, I have come to one conclusion (granted it is completely my conclusion): that all of these things contribute, but it really boils down to one major factor. The proximity of friends you have in college. As you navigate your way through four years of school, then use a fifth year as a victory lap just for good measure, you live nearly side-by-side with the people you come to know best. And most importantly, you have a perfectly legimate reason to talk to them. It’s basically like being crammed into a Manhattan apartment building, except your neighbors don’t curse at you for 90% of your actions.

But I would argue that many of these friendships (at least, the best ones) don’t just exist in college…you take them with you. You still treasure the same people you did then, just as you always will. By far the biggest difference, however, is that the route of communication changes as follows:

Scenario A: You have a bad day in class, failing a test and suffering the worst of all possibilities–Christine Wilson actually turned you down for a date at the end of chemistry lab. Just when you think you’ve come to know love–as it can only be viewed through the hazy blue flame of a Bunson burner–she actually turns you down. She hasn’t dated anyone in three years of college, but apparently she’d rather hold on to “the streak” than suffer through one date. A free date, for God’s sake. Anyway, the dejection really hits home as you walk through your dorm room door, so you halt there for a moment. You then wonder if your buddy Sean is in the room next door, so you walk the obligatory 7.4 feet and give it a knock. Turns out he’s there, and he instantly knows something is wrong. Fifteen minutes later, you’re both watching Swingers, lamenting the fate of poor Mikey and discussing all the reasons why Christine Wilson is certifiably crazy. You instantly feel better, and you thank God for Sean. All is well.

Scenario B: You have a terrible day at work, suffering four printer jams as well as the awful understanding that Lisa, the sorta-cute-for-an-older-lady secretary on the 11th floor, isn’t going to go out with you because she has eight children. She has calmly explained to you that she could probably make a run at it with only five or six children, but those last two are God-awful menaces to this Earth. But they make beautiful refrigerator drawings, see? Ten minutes and approximately four-hundred wobbly crayon lines later, you realize she means it…it’s never going to happen. So the dejection really hits home as you walk through the door to your house, and you halt there for a moment. Sean would know what to do in this situation. Good ol’ Sean, from your college days. So you pick up your cell phone and call him (the cell phone’s a little more awkward, but those 7:00 p.m. evening minutes are nice), only there’s no answer. He’s probably out with his wife, partaking of the Darlington County life that she’d always hoped for. Jumping in the car and driving 80 miles to track them down would make you just about the biggest pansy in the world, so you use the only option you have left: e-mail.

And then you realize that anything that guys say to each other in person sounds like complete bullsh*t when put down in writing. I mean, we’re talking seriously stupid. And you can’t even watch Mikey make his desperate phone calls via e-mail. You can’t slap someone on the ass via e-mail. And you surely can’t make Sean’s wife understand why you’d write such things to her husband. So the e-mail idea dies, and you resign to venting to the dog for an hour. Eight children…unbelievable.

A lengthy example, but for the four of you that are still with me, the point is that something truly becomes missing when you take away the proximity of friends. In a world heavily reliant on e-mail and telephone (much more so with e-mail, in many cases), friendships often become just as distorted as they would have after being passed through a line of fourteen schoolchildren in a game of “Gossip”.

So for me, this post is dedicated to my outstanding group of friends that I do not live very close to anymore. We, along with the all of the others that may be reading this post, have settled into our “adulthood” lives now, but I think we’re all tasked with the challenge of breaking through those boundaries as best we can. We have to remember that we’re all more important than mileage on the car, finding a pet-sitter, or working late hours at the office. I have been as delinquent as anyone in failing to recognize this, and so my New Year’s resolution (made a touch late) is to improve as much as I can. Even with all of the distractions and haziness that can settle in front of this goal, I remain optimistic. I love you guys.

I don’t know if any of this has resonated with anyone, but if you still have trouble believing me, try the following: simply walk out of your front door one evening, head over to your closest neighbor’s house or apartment, knock on the door, and observe the look on the face of whoever answers the door. I guarantee you it will be surprise.

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