Monday, November 14, 2011

when i was younger (part 4: grief)


i have had interactions with a lot of different people in my childhood.  it's weird however, because although our family only moved once (and to a town that was probably 15 minutes away from where i was anyway).  some of these interactions would be a one time thing or episodic in nature, family friend get-togethers in far places where the children would play while the parents chattered.

other times there would be friends for a season, where relationships were borne more out of proximity or necessity rather than...i don't know what the proper word for it is, but something sort of like mutuality.  people you didn't really necessarily relate to, but you were friends with anyway because there was no one else around. it seemed like that had been a very common experience for me up until high school.

i can remember being close with people who i can't connect with now, even with the wonders of facebook.  indeed, i have no idea what has become of my first real crush.  she could be dead for all i know, and honestly, i almost think it's not out of the question that she may be.  i have memories of these people who may as well not exist in my life at all, i remember their names and what they looked like, but have not heard from them in years.  they have vanished, for whatever odd reason.  these are people i would have hung out with every day, and considered them close friends, but yet have faded from my life.

that's not to say facebook and other things of the internet hasn't informed me of the goings on of people i used to associate with and befriend.  it's weird to see people you know getting married, becoming older, changing the world in lots of different ways.  social media has kind of made reunions almost obsolete, technology has made them constantly happen in slow motion, where you know what goes on in other people's lives, but don't necessarily interact with them.  those people aren't dead to me exactly, and there is some modicum of relief that they are still around, ready to update me with their most recent posts.

i think what i long for, and what most people want, is permanence.  i think about my friend from the maryland area, and his group of friends, people who he has known for a while, and who have all stayed in relative close proximity.  the bonds that he shares and the time he invests in his friendships are probably very well spent, as he can count on those people to stay in his life for a long time.  in places like nyc, where things are a bit more transient, these kinds of bonds are harder to come by.

i've been fortunate enough to have not gone through a major death in the family or amongst friends, at least something that wasn't unexpected.  that is not to say that this won't be an eventuality (though i also believe for some perverse reason that my death may come sooner than old age), but to simply observe that if one were to look at my capacity for grief, it wouldn't seem that great at all.  after all, what have i really gone through that has been devastating?  this is something that i actually do wonder if it will be detrimental for my craft of acting, in which experiencing pain can be of great inspiration.

but i have experienced grief.  growing up, as mostly an outsider, it was easy to go all in on someone who you actually interacted with, no matter how incompatible you were with them, after all, who else was there really to choose from?  i believe that compared against most, the number of people who have been important in my life and now nothing is extraordinarily high.

when i was 5, after visiting korea for a few weeks, i had cried apparently for days straight after returning to america, crying until i fell asleep.  in america, i had few relationships, and in those weeks, i felt like i had found my family again, only to lose them right back.  this kind of emotional response was not uncommon, i can remember multiple times in my childhood where i had cried, knowing that i would not see someone again or for a long time.  over years of similar types of experiences, i have become more and more numb.  last year, visiting korea for my grandmothers funeral, maybe a day after leaving that family i so desperately cared about , i reverted back to "life goes on".

what changed in high school was that i thought i had finally found some sense of this permanence that i had been longing for.  but over the past half decade, i have come to grips with losing that from a particular episode.  i guess what i might be trying to get at is that a special person's absence from your life may not make too much of a difference if the absence is created by an external factor or death.  i can definitely feel the sting of this pain dull my experience of life.


at some subconscious level, i suppose i believe that people leaving my life so abruptly either had to do with somewhat bad luck or a personal defect.  it is probably these cynical thoughts that have hindered my ability to be a philanthrope, and made my misanthropic habits progress.