Revisiting From Tomatoes to Friendship: 5 years later

Chapter 6. Representing the title I’ve chosen the book to have.

My dad once told me a story about his father and grandfather. He said that they used to have this gardening competition every year. A way to keep in touch and include each other in life. They argued and fought but that wasn’t the point. The point was the togetherness. They grew all sorts of things but it was the tomatoes that counted to them. Who’s looked the best, tasted the best, who had more of them. Silly things that probably didn’t matter to anyone else but it mattered to them. It’s things like that that make up a family and a life. Little traditions that seem silly but you enjoy despite anyone else.

It wasn’t about who won the tomato competition – that was a game just because they could. It didn’t matter that they argued. They were still family and they were a part of each other’s lives and again that was the point. We are all driven nuts by our families at times, sometimes more than others but they’re still part of us and our lives. Everyone’s family is dysfunctional in it’s own way. We all have our faults and arguments and we are who we are. Dynamics change and shift as we age and families fall apart as some leave this plane. But each and every family has it’s lessons, traditions and memories. Everything about them can teach you something.

Relationships with friends, family, lovers, acquaintances etc, are what you put into them. If you put enough time and effort into friendships those people can become family. Some people you just click with and others you just want to run away from. Family like friends are similar in a sense that you’re closer to some than others and you can avoid them if you want to or you can spend as much time with them as you please. But family has a different connotation when it comes to bonds. You share blood. You share experiences. You share knowledge. History, an ancestry. Traditions. Friends can become family after a certain point and though it can be better it still isn’t the same.

Relationships in our lives have a way of shaping us as well as experiences. Those we have by our side teaching us, guiding us, living it with us have a special place in our hearts and in our memories. Those that sat there and listened while we poured our hearts out over something we thought was a major ordeal at the time. Those that spent some of our happiest moments sharing in the experiences. Those that we were there for that we know we can count on no matter what. Relationships matter. Yes we all have a way of fucking things up but eh it is what it is. Friendships, relationships of any kind grow and change. Some people play a guest star and some people play a recurring role in your life. They can teach you about anything and everything. They are the ones you live up to, can live vicariously though, can resent or relish in the moment with. They are the people we choose to surround ourselves with and those we never forget.

These people don’t always have to be there for the betterment of anything. They could make things worse. They could just be there in general. Who knows. Family and family ties tend to be a little stronger but they also function a little differently. They function with an assumption that you’ll be there on holidays. They come with a clause. It’s not always a bad thing but it’s a little different than some friendships. But when you get to a certain point with a friend – the familial clause also exists. You’re now expected to be a part of that person’s life and hopefully you think that’s a good thing.

Friendship is something everyone needs in life. Your friends help shape your life and they can also help change your life for better or worse. We all start out at some point with friends that we “grew up with.” Those are friends that came in and out of our lives since we have been young children. These are people you can, not talk to for years and then out of nowhere say, “hey remember me?” and then end up talking for hours about “old times.” These are people that as a kid you remember random things from birthday parties or just playing tag in the back yard. If you can keep yourself surrounded by these people, the people you know and trust without question, the people you can count on to have your back, life is good.

Then there are those you gain later in life that you build memories with. These people can slowly become what you call close friends. Now, because you have realized that playtime no longer consists of boys vs. girls tag on the playground or that never ending game of hide and seek, friendship builds to new levels. You are always going to have that one person known as your partner in crime, who has gone through everything with you and you know each other so well that you can just look at each other and know what they’re thinking. Over the years your partner in crime may change but that doesn’t mean you lose the original, it means you’ve gained another. Then there’s the friend that blows you off over and over again, but you keep them around for reasons unbeknownst to you and because you wouldn’t have them be anyone else, but themselves. You have that friend that comes in and out of your life, but is always there if you just need someone to rant and rave to about your latest problem or crisis. That friend that if you wanna go grab a drink and put the day’s events out of your mind they will be happy to go along for the ride. We all think about that friend that we cared about more than as just friends but they’re one that got away. We may not always think of them but deep down somewhere inside you, there’s that last “what if you had done something different” thought that says you could have changed things, but in reality most likely wouldn’t have done so. There are a million types of friends in this world, where do you fit in?

Friends make you who you are as much as events in your life make and shape you. If you don’t have any friends, events that pull you down can be so much worse because there’s no one there to catch you and help pick up the pieces. Friends are people who you come to know and respect but those you can still “break ‘em” on until the end of time because of, “that one thing that happened ten years ago that you still won’t let them forget or live down” still is part of your friendship.

On the other hand people have ways of driving each other insane. Friends come and go in your life and they always will, but those who have your back today might not always be there tomorrow. Your friends are your support system just as much, if not more, than your family is or should be. Friends are the people you surround yourself with. People you tell your deepest darkest secrets to and share your best and worst memories with. They are the people who should know you just as much as you know yourself – for the most part. However, friends only know as much about you as you are willing to tell them. They can only understand as much about you, as you are willing to let them or as much as you understand about yourself at the time. People need each other; there is no doubt about that. We depend on each other to get through the day whether it’s by helping us do our job, helping with everyday chores, helping with kids or pets, being there for us in our best and worst moments, or just relaxing at the end of a long week.

Friendship is hard to come by. Especially true friendship. By true friendship I mean, the people that you know have your back at a second’s notice even if it may cost them something. And I don’t mean heavily cost them, but people you know you can count on. Time has a cost of its own. I’m talking about the friends you can call your family, those you can stand to be around every minute of everyday and still miss them when they’re gone for five minutes. Those you can be parted from for months or years and then the first time you reconvene, your friendship has never changed and it’s as if nothing ever happened. It’s as though even though you may have updated them on random points of your life and the drama and happenings that you deemed most important at the time, these chosen few or many if you’re obscenely lucky, will always be there. They won’t ever seem to let you down. These are the people that are there when you yourself, have little faith in you –yourself.

Friends are necessary for life. It’s the reason why TV shows like Friends, Sex and the City, Seinfeld, the list goes on are such successes. They’re shows that are built around friends living with and around each other. It shows their ups, downs, ins, outs, and needs for one another. People relate to these shows because they are things that may seem outrageous and funny to someone but could in fact be someone else’s life. We all have those moments in life that we can connect with some movie or television show somewhere. Whether it’s because of a break up or a friendship. A family member or an in-law. These shows sell because they’re life at it’s finest and lowest. They prove that people need people. They give you a false sense of making best friends and keeping them but they still prove that we need each other to survive whatever the world throws at us because without them we’re goners.

 

 

 

To know where you’re going you need to know where you’ve been…

That moment you look through old photos and start to look back on your life. You go through people you once knew, not very well but you were new to this whole thing – college. A new city, a new state, new people, new feelings. How quickly we forget how we felt in those moments. How we really felt in those moments. They say that when you remember something, you’re actually remembering the last time you remembered it. Which is insane, but interesting at the same time. It means you can change your feelings about anything based on how you feel about it in the next moment you remember it. Manipulation at it’s finest. Keep that in mind, but that’s another story for another time.

I’ve been thinking about going back to school in hopes of actually finding a career. I have two bachelor’s degrees, but because of some past shit I may or may not be able to. I’ve left my hometown yet again but it isn’t really working out so I’m trying to make another decision.
Bring me to this morning and I’m reminded of what I’ve been missing in my life. I’ve been missing the new and exciting. The thrill of really being somewhere new. Of being forced to go out and live. But also being surrounded by people so I have a chance to meet some friends. And that’s it – the difference between moving somewhere as a college student and moving somewhere as an adult.
I’ve always said that to know where you’re going you have to know where you’ve been and I’ve forgotten exactly that. I’ve let the bullshit of things that really don’t matter take over my life. I mean they matter but not with the emphasis I put on them.
Life is messy. It’s far from black and white. We are people. We shift and change and grow and sometimes growing means growing down and not up.  I’ve been yearning for something I know and have an insane, intense relationship with – my hometown. It’s not that I’m homesick, at least not in the traditional way. But I’ve been trying to take the easy way out. I’ve been trying to go back and it seems that I hadn’t gone back far enough. I had to go back to the first time I ever really left and that made all the difference.
I had to go back to before I was so jaded by life and what was going on. To a time when the world was still new to me. I have to believe that that’s why  people had roles and traditions in society. Now we throw caution to the wind in hopes to move forward and society is failing itself. I mean I know traditions have flaws but honestly… there are milestones in life for a reason. They make us who we are at that point in time. They keep things that are new and exciting. A relationship, a marriage, a family, a house, a life with your family and around your family and I mean extended family. People knew and were open to committing. And I mean committing to jobs and careers as well as people and relationships. And yeah it didn’t always work out and yeah things were messy but we’re people. There are so many things I feel like I’m missing in my life. Some of it is me and some of it is the world around me.
I sit here trying to figure out myself as usual and I know how much I’ve changed and shifted over the years and I know I’m not done. Any time I seek knowledge and something new, I’m not done growing or changing. But how does this effect my perception? Of me? Of the world around me? We quickly forget ourselves at our best and worst eventually because we constantly have new bests and worsts. We all change. We all have a past and some sort of future. We all have to build it ourselves. So where am I going? I have no idea, that’s some thing I have to figure out on the way there… but where are we going as society and is it better than where we’ve been?

So much potential but – Risks, risks everywhere

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We’re all struggling to find our way. In a world where possibilities are endless but everything comes at a cost what do you do? How do you attempt to live your dream? A decade ago college degrees used to mean success in some way. You were compensated more for what you earned. You were thought to be highly educated and had some type of distinguished appeal in terms of your field of study. Degrees are now a dime a dozen and the cost is astronomical. For what payoff? All you get now is a chance at any success with any job in any field because they don’t care that you have a History degree or a Biology degree. They just want you to have any degree. You study for four years trying to get a well rounded education because somewhere along they way you’re told that you have to. You take a chance for a risk that will leave you with a mortgage and no house and a pay off that may take up to ten years to be returned. They say that by the time you’re 30 you’ll eventually have enough experience and working knowledge to come close to making what you deserve and maybe be doing what you thought you wanted to do. Um – stop… that’s insane. I get it childhood and high school no longer teach you what they once did. Parents don’t let kids fail anymore. You don’t get to be the losing team, everyone gets a trophy for playing. Debt is inevitable but student loans are more defeating than anything else.

We live in a backwards world. Kids don’t know how to fail, they can’t lose and know the meaning of it. Working hard doesn’t always pay off. Proving you’re the best at what your job only gets you stuck there. School does not prepare you for anything. Skills are not learned while at school. Taxes, the actual value of voting, finances, independence, taking care of yourself, major life skills that you need to learn to be on your own are not skills anyone seems to value. Then society turns on our generation saying we’re lazy and entitled. They hold any mistake we make against us. Yet they still do not teach us. We do not truly know what failing is. And by the time we’re even given the chance to fail we already have $50,000 or more in student loan payments and can’t afford to fail.

It’s a crazy fucked up world out there. I love my parents but they don’t get it. I have so much respect and love for my close friends but even some of them do not understand what the calculated value of a degree is in return for your life.

I had an argument with a friend the other day about college. We’re about a year apart in age, we’ve known each other for over a decade but I’m not married and they don’t have any degrees. They made their decisions. They’re working part time for more money than they’ve ever seen but what they’re doing is nothing I’ve ever wanted to do or make happen for myself. It’s not hard labour and it isn’t desk work either. I don’t bash their chosen job but that’s what it is – a job. A for now this will do job.

I get having a job and working for a living. But I don’t get living for your job. I might want a career but I don’t even know what that means anymore. What’s the difference between a job and a career? Do you have to be a doctor or a lawyer to have a career? Do you have to work 80 hours a week and devote your life to working to have a career? Will someone please throw me a bone and tell me what the hell it means because I don’t know.

My dad says all the time, oh your friend is doing xyz… when are they gonna get a real job? I get it there’s a difference between working in retail or fast food and sitting at a desk all day but hell, if that’s what they want and are content with that, then who the hell are you to tell them otherwise? My dad and I disagree quite a bit in terms of the world today. He can’t see my perspective and he doesn’t want to. My mom is the same way but we don’t generally talk about it. I’ve been angry about some things that are going on in my life lately and I think this country is ass backwards. I don’t bash the quality of life because it is not bad in the slightest. But saying we’re fucked up is an understatement. He insists that half the countries I’ve been in I’d be arrested for even speaking my mind. To which I have to point out to him that he’s never even been out of this country before other than Canada and the media/news only tells you what they want you to know. I get trying to watch the news and educate yourself but you can’t believe everything people tell you about other countries. Yes some things are true and some places are dangerous. It happens. That can be said about anywhere. But when you can’t even provide for yourself in a country that is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave what do you have? There is no American Dream. I’m slightly ashamed of what this country has become.

I like to be knowledgeable and educated on things in the world but I like to learn by doing and through experience. There are so many things that this country does get right I will give us that. But there are so many things that are expected from the youth of this country that have never been taught to us. I like to believe that you can learn something from everyone in terms of life and what not, but that does not make everyone a teacher. Not everyone can teach and college and graduate school and the education system today is not teaching. Common core and teaching to pass state tests and not having high expectations because of an area’s reputation is ridiculous. Not everyone is given the same chance and that’s obvious. But why would you throw the future of this country away with ridiculous unevenness when it doesn’t have to be that way?

I’ve been reading around and it says that by the time you’re in your 30s or around 30 you can hope to be semi successful. If your job/career doesn’t take off until you’re 30 then from the age of 22 when most graduate from college until 30 what do you do? That’s 8 years of a whole lot of craziness. If we drink or experiment, then we’re addicts. If we party, we’re hot messes. If we stay in and do nothing we’re responsible. If we have a real job then we’re doing okay. But the last time I checked – living in your parents house going to a job you hate everyday isn’t acceptable, yet we’re not really given a choice. If you go to college you take a chance. If you go to graduate school you take a chance. None of those chances ever guarantee a payoff. Nothing in life is certain except death. You have loans to pay yet you’re not guaranteed a job. You have a life to live yet you’re not guaranteed a chance or success. And if you ask any adult, that’s just life.

Going to a job you hate everyday, having debts, owing people money because that’s how the world works, trying to find passion or make it in a world of your choice is silly – get a real job. Trying to be thankful for what you have is hard. Everyone in society from kid to adult is ungrateful. We’re not taught how to be thankful for what we have because even our parents want more and they wanted it yesterday. Life is hard. Love is hard. Friendship is hard. Risks are worth taking but they never pay off. Chances are everywhere but to take one there’s risk is involved. So what do you do? Do you sit around and do what you’re told because it’s the easy way? Do you try to break the mold because of your own dissatisfaction with yourself or the life you’re leading?

How do you dream when you can’t afford to pay for food today without the help of your parents? How do you have goals when the odds of ever achieving them are slim to none? You have every chance in the world to be whoever you want but so does everyone else. The world is a lot smaller of a place, we no longer compete with those in the cities and states around us. We’re competing with the world. How do you find contentment and satisfaction when you’ve never been taught how to experience or deal with those things? I want to love and be loved. I want to be happy. I want a job I enjoy at least slightly. I want to pay for my loans and not have that burden hanging over my head. I want to have my own house or apartment but I’m nowhere near achieving any of those things. I’m sick of complaining and I’m sick of people telling me that having debt you can’t control and working a job that makes you miserable is just life. I refuse to be an adult that can be beaten into submission in such a way that I find that acceptable. I’m sick of the world telling me that regardless I do and how much I try that I’m not good enough. I will not give up and I will not be beaten into submission. I’m sick of adults that have little to no ambition ruining it for us dreamers that want more for this world.

When do you stop believing in the myths of fairies and happy endings? I don’t mean that literally but honestly. Why give into the monotony and unhappiness of a job that gives you nothing but headaches or annoyance? Why give into debt and owing everyone for anything you ever do? Why pay for every single chance you take because you need to learn from experience? Why not help someone along the way and learn for yourself and from them? Why complain if you won’t educate yourself on anything or everything? “We are the music makers. We are the dreamers of dreams.” We have the potential to write the next epic adventure. To live it. To be the next great anything. We have the most access to the best of the best throughout history yet we don’t have the capabilities to learn all that we can from it and each other. “If this is to be our end then I will have them make such an end, as to be worth of remembrance.”