I missed my post two weeks ago. I apologize.
It’s been hard for me to keep track of what’s going on. I’m ending a single year in a new place I’ve never been before, and heading off to another single year in another place I’ve never been before. My friends here have almost exclusively been people here for just the one year because no one else thinks we’re worth the energy. They’re used to having one-years around, and what’s the fun in making friends with us? The people who suddenly realize they’d wish they’d made friends with us say loudly all the time, “Oh it’s SO terrible that you’re leaving. What EVER will we do without you.” Dramatic sigh! Mime of pining!
Meanwhile, my two co-one-years and I are reaching the point of reckoning. Were we really best friends, with so so much in common, who will stay close for all eternity, visiting one another on pilgrimages in honor of this amazing friendship? Or will we drift off, like one another’s Facebook statuses for a while, and then have new best friends?
I feel like maybe we’re testing those boundaries, knowing full well they’re potentially real.
Tonight I found myself feeling really grumpy about taste. One of the things I’ve learned to do since leaving NYC is keep my picky tastes to myself. If someone says they like something I don’t, I’ve learned to shut the fuck up. Don’t explain why I think it’s crap. Don’t ask them pointed questions about why they feel so sure it’s not crap. Just shut up.
It’s not who I am, though! I have always been a dick about taste, not because I think I have good taste, but because I think it’s a fun argument to have. A former girlfriend said at one point that she never introduced her liking of anything to me until she was sure she wanted to hear a devastating criticism of it. I hate cynicism as much as the next person, but purist aestheticism is at least entertaining, no? I love reading cruelly withering movie and book reviews. I don’t mean the Michiko-Kakutani-style bad review (“This book was too long! It tried too hard!”), but the kind that reveals what a fluffy, messy mistake looks like vivisected and stuck hanging up raw on pikes. Look! A kidney!
But it’s not something you do with friends. There is something in the devastating commentary (gimmicky, facile, shrill, naive) that suggests, “I can’t believe you fell for that.” In NYC, where devastating commentary is oxygen, most of my friends only admit to enjoying the shittiest possible things (reality TV, the poppest pop music, books for children) or the rather obscure (Delta blues, pre-Code cinema, “outsider” art) because they’re devastation-proof. It never wanted to be more to us. My friends here sometimes admit to liking the forbidden zone of the middlebrow. They talk about reading the New Yorker fiction section unironically.
To be honest, I was kind of a cunt about it. I’m testing my boundaries with them. Maybe I’m testing how permanent the effects of country living have been on me. Maybe I’m pushing them away as a defense mechanism because we’ll miss each other. To be fair, they’re both doing it too. (“I’ve never told you this, but my boyfriend really hated you when you first met!” “I’ve never told you, but the feeling was mutual.”) This life of ours is hard to keep living in when we know our love is so fragile.