Growing up or growing inward?

Lately, I have been feeling nostalgic. What, Becca nostalgic? I know, I know, stop the presses. But what I’m missing isn’t anything and everything, but one small, specific ability that seems to have disappeared from my everyday life. It’s the ability to just drop by someone’s house, unannounced, and spend time just chilling. Whether that be playing card games on the floor of the Ruth’s with Jennie and Casey, or watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the Archer House crew, or even sitting on Paul’s bed, reading an assignment while he’s “studying” at the computer.

As children, we did this all the time. I didn’t call ahead to make a play date; I’d walk up the nearby streets and see who was out playing. That’s all it took; you saw someone, you spent the afternoon with them. In high school, I had a few households that fulfilled that same purpose; the aforementioned Ruths, the Reeses, late night hanging out with Shawn at the gas station…and of course, church probably fit into this role. In college, I could go over to pretty much any dorm or friend’s house and find a way to while away the afternoon. In the brief two months I spent back at Santa Maria before the move to Boston, I think I wore out Casey’s doorbell.

Yet now, it seems like hanging out is only allowed with prearranged dinner dates and events. Is this simply the next stage in the life of homo sapien americanus? I feel like part of it may be that we start internalizing more as we grow up—by the time I’m retirement age, I fully intend to spend my days mulling politics over the morning paper and philosophizing with my brandy snifter by the fire at night. But in the meantime, I’m left wondering just why my neighbors are more likely to stare me down than invite me in for a cup of licorice tea if I’m chasing my cat in the cul-de-sac.

And because I am eternally grateful to Jon Trumbull for introducing a classroom full of unsuspecting teens to Cat’s Cradle, I end with this quote, a few days short of the anniversary of Kurt Vonnegut’s death-

“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

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