The Whatsapp group is formed, I am added along with a bunch of people that have become the usual suspects for the Friday Night social. The instructions were, “Meeting at Shakers Bar for 8pm and onwards to Chill & Grill or Buzz and then to Katalyst or Paprika,” and I fade away into last week’s memory of sitting at a table of maybe ten people and saying very little while the banter went around of surface conversations about Carnival costumes and trips away and the next big party plans and the round of drinks we are about to order and how much money everyone needs to contribute to throw a big bram and… fade to black.
Silence. A strange silence has drifted over me the last few months. An awkward understanding of my disillusion, my disconnect, my distance from all these things. I am the stranger at the table that no one sees anymore. I am no one’s friend and no one thinks of me as more than a warm silhouette occupying a sliver of space here at this table. We are all silhouettes here. I’m not really all that different, except perhaps that my silhouettedness bothers me, makes me feel insignificant and wasted. It is the wastedness that bothers me the most. It is the desire to not be wasted that drives me further into my seat at the table and then suddenly, I have slipped through the rattan backing of the chair, dripped slowly down the back legs and trickled away.
But no one notices, because at these tables, in the shadows of loud, mindless music and superficial conversation, no one cares about each other enough to ask how we feel, are we happy with our lives, with our careers, with our families. No one cares about the other person’s personal growth or mental health. No one really notices anything.
So I disappeared quietly and have not been missed. In fact my absence has gone so unnoticed that I am still on the Whatsapp groups and the Facebook Event invitations. And in theory, I’m still someone’s friend and I’m still somewhere around. But there is no love here among these babbling strangers. And the waste has become insurmountable.
I see potential in contact now more than ever. I think of conversations and the intoxicating drift of knowledge and experience and life, from one person to the other and then I look for it at these tables and find it absent and myself even, not present here, and it feels like waste.
So I’ve let it go. The Friday night scene, the running after silhouettes of friends who vanish into shadows of old friendships, only to reappear when drunk, for brief moments and then they slip away again into the cacophony of silence. I’ve let go of my need to connect to old relationships, to try and persuade these strangers into something I can relate to again. It’s gone and what is left is sadness at the loss.
But also, there is growth. There is new space in me, for dance classes on a Monday night with interesting people and theatre lessons and time to read books and time to spend with those who actually ask me how I feel and give me the chance to actually answer honestly. There is room for new conversations and new emotions – there’s room for emotion – period. I feel myself changing into something curious and adventurous and experience-seeking. I feel myself growing. And it feels wonderful.
Because ever-so-often we need to re-pot the plant – give it new soil – for it to thrive.