March 23, 2015
For someone who spends most of their time wading about in an ocean of idealistic daydreams, I actually have a relatively low tolerance for the unreal. I get annoyed when people draw connections that don’t seem logical, I tend to decide how I’m going to feel about an experience before I actually experience it… Just this week, I’ve made about three passive aggressive text posts on Tumblr about how much I’ve grown to despise astrology (sorry). Although, maybe that’s not necessarily an intolerance for the unreal and rather a need for things to be right, to be consistent. Maybe I rely on a level of predictability that will provide a base for me to build more abstract thought process on. Like that line from Harold and Maude: “The earth is my body; my head is in the stars.” I need to be grounded to know what it is to be untethered; I need a launch pad to get any higher than the atmosphere.
Which is maybe one reason I seem to believe in fate and destiny and yet constantly say things like “I don’t really believe in Fate or Destiny.”
Which is maybe one reason I defined my best friends as “soulmates, if that’s a thing that even exists.”
That was in post I made almost exactly a year ago in response to an anonymous user who messaged me asking if I think One Direction would be friends if they weren’t One Direction. At that time, I seemed to find it necessary to talk about them through my own friendship. At this time – amidst a plethora of breakup rumors which somehow seem more ominous than they ever have up until this point – I’m naturally going to do the same.
A year ago, I said:
We’ve known each other for 7-8 years now and sometimes I seriously look at them and just think, how the hell did I get this lucky, how are we all still friends, how do I love each of them so equally yet in their own specific ways? What if we grew up in different towns or went to different high schools or if I’d stayed in a lower grade in elementary school or any number of different scenarios that would have altered our coming (and staying) together?
7-8 makes 9 now and I still don’t know. As long as it’s been, as much as I love them, I’m still not used to the fact that there’s people that get me as much as is possible to get someone who’s not yourself. I don’t think you can get used to it.
Maybe I was asking the wrong questions though. Maybe a better question would have been “Where do my friends end and where do I begin?” It’s an odd question that I’ve never felt the need to spend much time on because I like that my edges are allowed to be soft and fuzzy when I’m around them, undefined, experiences bleeding into one another “Oh, I don’t remember if I told you this yet or not” only to find out that I already have. It’s odd that existing as one part of a whole as opposed to being the whole is comforting, but it is. It is. “Never on your own” doesn’t sound so suffocating, it feels warm and safe – but safe in the way that it’s safe to get dressed with the door open in your own home, not safe as in holding back. Safe as in it’s easier to meet people when I’m with my friends because I feel more like myself around them, it’s easier to be honest with myself when I’m talking with my friends because I believe in myself around them, it’s easier to be easier actually.
I’ve read so many headlines over the past week about so and so leaving the band, so and so not being happy, so and so split and riffs and tensions and pressures and stress and, and, and. It genuinely twists something so deep within me, a physical reaction that makes me feel childish for getting so caught up. But as I’ve said at other times, all this shit I talk about 1D isn’t about 1D it’s about me.
I mean, it is a little bit about 1D. I was already blessed with my friendship when I got into them and one thing that was so enjoyable I think was that what they had reflected the way we were. There’s that scene in This Is Us where they’re all in the van arriving in some new country (Japan, I think) and everyone sings together “motorrail, motoraaaaailll, motorrraiiiilll!!” and it was them but it was us. It wasn’t just cute, it was an escape. And I don’t mean an escape as in escapism but rather, that feeling you have when you’re all driving together and things just feel alive, things feel real, things feel electric (“we owe our entire careers to electricity”/we owe our entire friendship to electricity probably). So I guess meeting your lifelong best friends in high school is a little bit like meeting your bandmates on a UK talent show, in that your first pictures together are kind of awful and young and trying to prove something and also in that everyone says it’ll be over soon.
The scary thing about them breaking up isn’t actually the music for me. I love their music no matter what goes on with them as people and I want more of it, I do, but they’ve become something so much bigger than that for me. Music is malleable, music gets better and gets worse and it shifts into other things, no big deal. Lots of my favorite bands have broken up and I’ve lamented the fact that there won’t be anything new but I never mourn that. God forbid, if One Direction announced their split right now (fingers crossed) I could still listen to “Once in a Lifetime” tomorrow.
No, the scary thing about them breaking up, beyond the surface level material stuff, the stuff that makes me frantically click out of windows to avoid yet another piece of speculative clickbait, is what I’ve taken their friendship to mean. What I’d miss is bearing witness to the irresistible love vibes they all have for each other. I’m not talking about shipping, I’m talking about the genuine love and care you have for a person who’s been through You with you, and the possibility that that could just….stop.
I’ve always admired their ability to talk about this thing that is so massive and quick moving and all encompassing as a job, as something that they love doing but also something that is work and which requires a certain level of dedication and faith. Maybe blind faith. But then I wonder, well where’s the line? Your job created your friendship, your friendship creates your job, how am I not supposed to feel conflicted? quickly clicks the red X
It doesn’t make me question the reality of my friendship because – and here, my romantic roots are going to come into full bloom – nothing could make me question that. But there’s a phantom sense of loss I guess you could say, the loss of an Earth that allows you to be in the stars. The circumstances of our lives, of their collective relationship and my collective relationship, are wildly different but they’re human (they’re human, they’re human, they’re human, I endlessly remind myself) and no matter who you are, space is a scary place if you’ve got no ship. It’s open water with no anchor.
Around my 22nd birthday, I got a tattoo that says “SAVEYOURSELF,” letters all squished together cause I needed it to be both save your Self and save Yourself. I’ve been laughing about it lately. Not that I regret it because I don’t – but it’s just funny. Funny how we worry about these things, about losing ourselves and also about losing in general. We brace ourselves so much for the crash and get hurt more in the process. I’m not going to say enjoy it while it’s here (“enjoy the rollercoaster that is life J x”) because even when I’m most enjoying myself I’m more often enjoying the memory of myself in the moment, enjoying the thought of “when I look back on this a year from now.” I don’t even know how it’s possible to enjoy the moment these days, if I’m honest.
What I do think is friends make the moment bigger so it can exist beyond any measurable point in time, any era. What I’m saying is nostalgia is kind of bullshit, it was never really better than it is now, it’s just that you’re thinking of all the good parts. Hindsight isn’t 20/20, hindsight puts a strain on your neck.
I got that tattoo with E, she held my hand through the pain and presented me with a Zombie Direction birthday cake after we were done, and on the drive back we were talking about distance, about how we all lived in different places. This was in reference to One Direction as well but I forgot what was going on in the fandom at that time that had (once again) sparked break up rumors. But we scoffed at them, saying that if we were celebrities everyone would think we weren’t friends anymore just because we hadn’t spoken for a week. I think about that a lot, that exact conversation and that exact road we were driving on. I think about the reverse of the question “if 1D weren’t 1D would they still be friends,” but instead, if my friends were something like 1D would we be friends? If we were shoved together and shipped around the world, different city every night would it go sour? Would I be able to save my Self? Would I have to save Myself?
This week, we texted a bit about this, everyone feeling guilty because we were too busy off living our so-called adult lives and had slacked in the group chat. Really, I think we all worry that we’re the ones fucking up. E gets frustrated with herself because she’s always working and it makes her feel like she’s missing things, perpetually absent. S gets frustrated because she’s away and studying and trying to get her future together and she feels like her stress is too much of a downer for the rest of us. C’s all the way out in Cali, married. I talked to her for the first time in a few months last night (social media things aside) and I’m guessing she also feels far away and out of our world even though hers has progressed in a pretty okay direction. I’m where I am, buried under the incessant weight of grad school and I feel selfish and lazy and boring even though I’m supposedly always busy. We all blame ourselves; but when someone brings it up the others shoot that line of thinking down, usually with a good threat thrown in to drive the point home: do what you need to do, do your own thing, if you’re here there or nowhere at all We’ll still be here.
But like I said, it’s funny because we think of “here” as fixed just like we think of the self as fixed. I just went back to my hometown for a week and I mean – have you ever noticed how much you tie who you (supposedly) are to actual, physical check points? Like a balloon tied to a post so it doesn’t float away.
But here is kind of nowhere, it doesn’t exist. We can look back at color coordinated posh boy outfits and think I wish we could go back but really, there is no “back” because there is no path. It’s like in Alice in Wonderland, the more steps you take, the more steps appear ahead of you, the more steps disappear behind you. So again, there is no path, even if there is a direction.
E loves McFly and I love that she loves McFly. She was telling me how they said in some interview or maybe their book that no matter what happens to them individually, whether they play music together or not they’ll still be McFly. She’s said that multiple times but each time I listen to it like a kid listens to their parent reading them a brand new bedtime story. It gives me the ability to roll my eyes at One Direction breakup rumors because no matter where they go, this will still have happened. Whatever it was is what it was and right now, it is what it is. But it also allows me to feel okay if I need to take 3 weeks to be Oscar the Grouch, states away from the people that make me whole because wherever we are is where we are and really, that’s that. It doesn’t need to be where we were or where we’ll be in order to be. Transition is fine. Knowing when to take a breath is fine. Everyone’s just a phone call away if I really need them. Do what I need to do, do my own thing, if I’m here there or nowhere they’ll still be there, where We belong.
Sika Wheeler is floating right now. Trapped between cornfields and football fields in the dead center of Pennsylvania, yearning for the south again. She used to want to be a writer, now she won’t stop telling people she used to be a math tutor. But generally speaking, she should probably be working on that paper for class instead of literally anything she’s actually doing.