Home for the Holidays

AutoGrat is back once again, minus a coblogger and no longer restaurant industry oriented. I’ve decided that it’s time for me to use this space exclusively for my own internal ramblings. Or external, depending on your perspective. PERSPECTIVE. That’s going to be the key word for this third attempt at maintaining a blog.

That being said, I’m going to skip the part where I attempt to outline my ideas going forward with this writing endeavor… I really don’t know what’s happening, I just know that I need to write. So here we are.

I just returned from visiting my family in Kansas City for Thanksgiving. My time there always offers me an alternate perspective (keywords!) on my life… It’s crazy how different your life can seem when talked about with people outside of your immediate bubble of existence. I didn’t have any epiphanies or stumble upon new understandings of self. I did, however, have some time to reflect on my familial situation and how it differs from those I surround myself with.

Most families are kind of organized into little groups based on their place on the family tree – the adult table consists of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. The kids table is usually made up of cousins and siblings in the same age group, lumped together to give the adults some time to catch up and maybe have too  much wine. Everyone at the kids table grow up together until they’re old enough to branch out into their own respective adult tables… Typical holiday formula.

Kansas City is home to the paternal side of my family. Our Thanksgiving dinner is hosted at my aunt and her husband’s home, and our usual guest list includes their children, my father and his wife and their kids, my grandmother and great-grandmother. Because I was born when my father was just exiting high school, there weren’t any cousins or siblings being added to the picture. My kid table was just me, trying to fit in with the grown-ups. Twenty-some years later, my dad and aunt have started the more traditional family experience, we’ve included some married in relatives, and the kid table is now fully seated.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my too much wine. On the flip side, I watch the kids play and bond and get older together every year and I wonder what that must be like. I hear anecdotes from peers about their own family gatherings, sneaking schnapps and sharing secrets with their distant same-aged relatives, and I get a little jealous. My cousins and siblings will never have those memories of me – I’ll always be more akin to the auncle that didn’t tell mom and dad about the schnapps I caught them with.

At the adult table, I recount the last year of my life and I talk politics and theology and economics and clean up dishes and cut pie for the kids. All the while, I can’t fully divulge my recent experiences because, frankly, they’re too old at this point to relate. Talking about partying with my friends and complaining about moving home aren’t appropriate accolades for those at higher stages in life. So, I keep all of that below the surface and I talk instead about my job and try to sound like a productive, self-sufficient, respectable member of society.

It’s all normal for me, and it isn’t until one of the cousins needs me to remind them that I’m technically on their part of the family tree that I even notice the abnormality of the whole thing. At the end of the day, though, I can’t help but appreciate the outlook I have on the family. I’ve seen the adults mature and wisen and find the lives they’ve wanted to lead and I’ve grown alongside them being in the loop, a confidante. I don’t experience the whispers or the subject changes upon entering a room because I’m usually the one being whispered to. In the same stride, I get to be the kids’ favorite adult, still young enough that I can relate to their experiences and old enough that I get to take care of them.

Pros and cons aside, experiencing Thanksgiving the way I have has given me the opportunity to see the broad spectrum of life in all of it’s stages, and in turn I’ve been able to realize fairly early on just how I want to grow into myself. If there’s anything I’m grateful for, it’s that. It leaves me curious though – what are the other experiences out there? What alternate perspectives would you all like to share? Whether you’ve grown with your cousins, walked in similar shoes, or never had a Thanksgiving experience at all, I would love to be enriched by your holiday stories. Comment, message, whatever is comfortable for you to expand my view.

 

Thanks for taking the time,

Tucker

 

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Serial De-Friender

I’ve had a lot of friends in my life. I’ve had a lot of best friends, mostly. And these friends I’ve had over the years have all been wonderful humans in their own respects, yet in the ‘prime’ of my life I find myself with only a handful of people I consider close friends. I can count on three fingers the people I consider dearest to me, excluding those blood-bound to love me.

I’ve been analyzing my life a lot, as I tend to do, and looking for negativity to eliminate from it. I try to be happy, as hard as it seems to be, and so I try to keep the stresses to a minimum. As these analyses usually point out, stress seeps from every corner my life, even among those ‘close friends’ I have. A pretty common trend in my behavior is distancing myself from people, whether intentionally or not, as soon as my over-critical mind catches wind of something problematic.

I could list the amount of people I’ve cut out of my life and go into detail about how I was justified in removing them and why I’m better off without them, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem must be with me. I can’t have as long a list of ex-besties as I do without some fault landing on my shoulders.

This introspective look at my serial de-friending comes, perhaps obviously, at what seems to be another of my ending relationships. I can feel myself slowly and systematically ostracizing someone in my life, consciously pushing her away but completely incapable of stopping myself. Or maybe unwilling to stop.

So as I continue to watch our connection fizzle out, I can’t help but wonder what it is that prompts my need to snip the strings of my relations. I spent a lot of time telling myself that I got bored with people easily, and it made enough sense. But the endings never really occur in a lull. Another part of me believes that it must be my depression kicking in and I’m just pushing people out as a response to the impending doom. Like a cat when her life is ending, finding a hiding place to pass on alone. I’ve been in a stellar mood lately though, so how can I blame my depression? Is it insecurity, then? Not feeling worthy of love? Is it a source of control for me, in my never-ending struggle to have a handle on every facet of my life? A defense mechanism? Or something else completely?

People who maintain close friends for years and years astound me. “You’ve been friends for how long? Wow, I’ve only known most of my friends for a year!” It’s a common statement. I think the largest period of time I’ve considered a person my ‘best friend’ was for four or five years, tops. And a less-than-best friend that I maintain contact with is even rarer. As many times as I’ve promised to stay in someone’s life forever, I have a hard time making it past a two year mark. Maybe I’m just not meeting people that fit into my life, or maybe I’m one of those malformed puzzle pieces myself, a factory defect that can’t fit into the place I was meant to go. Maybe I just have commitment issues.

“You’re a ticking time bomb. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells with you.” I’ve heard that twice in my life, almost verbatim, from two very different friends, at very different stages in my life. Further evidence that it’s me that is the problem with my friendships.

So, what am I doing? Why can’t I see myself as the countdown nears zero and the people around me tiptoe away across a sea of eggs shells? (Which, by the way, really makes no sense. Why would you tiptoe across shells of eggs? Aren’t the eggs already broken? Another time, Tucker, another time.)

No matter how many times I tell myself ‘it’ll be different this time,’ it never is. Even when I see it coming.

To all of the ex-best-friends that I’ve pushed away, however I managed to f*ck things up, I’m sorry for whatever I did (or didn’t do). And no matter how many times I promise to remedy our broken friendship and don’t follow through, know that you’re really not missing anything new.

Temporarily Yours,
Tucker