I cried like a swift or thrush,
I moaned like a mourning dove.
My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens.
I am troubled; O Lord, come to my aid!
Isaiah 38:14 (context)
Have you ever found yourself in a group of people and had the realization slowly dawn on you that you… are not like these people. A Venn diagram of your priorities, concerns, expectations, plans, and indeed entire worldview would intersect with the Venn diagram of theirs in only, oh, 0.000001% of the total area. I found myself in just such a situation when I met with the other AmeriCorps interns in the Seattle area last night to plan out carpooling. First of all, the plan called for meeting at the Seattle Central Library. Easy to find, major landmark, great for even out of towners to find. Then the library closed at 6:00 — our meeting time. At the last minute, one intern proposed an alternative meeting place, a Starbucks a couple blocks away. I got the message and duly went to the Starbucks.
“Went,” by the way, entails driving (in the pouring rain; hence no bike) to the South Kirkland Park & Ride, taking an unfamiliar bus route in to Seattle, and walking a few blocks in Seattle. Naturally, I managed to go in the exact wrong direction at least a half-dozen times, taking the longest possible time to travel about two blocks. Once I had wandered in the dark and pouring rain, I got to the Starbucks, only to find it closed and dark. Turns out they closed at 5:15. Great backup plan. I waited there for probably 15 minutes, huddled under my umbrella, wondering if any of the other interns would show up.
Finally I remembered I had one girl’s phone number. A call to her established that they had changed the location again, to a bar near the library. Gah! However, I found the bar and the interns with no problem — happily no wrong turns — and settled down to get to know them.
I now know that two of the five of us dominate conversations with strangers. I also now know that they have had a number of bad experiences with getting room mates or housing on Craig’s List. And, of course, I know quite a few bars favored by one of the interns who grew up in the area and went to the UW (thus gaining this integral knowledge of the city: Where the best bars are). Also some discussion about name origin took place. Then they all exchanged cell phone numbers and called one another while I watched. That was the extent of the hour’s conversation.
After that I wandered around lost for a while — I’m terrible in cities and will inevitably go the wrong way when given the opportunity — found my way back to the University Street Transit Tunnel, barely missing my bus, and waited for just over 30 minutes for the next bus.
While I waited, the understanding dawned on me that I do not live like most of my peers — and that’s setting aside the fact that we live with my parents now. No; in Massachusetts, living on our own, we still lived nothing like these young adults. I’m thinking about saving for my 401k, buying a house, having kids some time in the next few years. They’re thinking about drinking, lousy rooming situations, and maybe finding somebody to sleep with. I’m thinking about reading books, going for walks, supporting missionaries and giving to charity. They’re thinking about whatever the latest TV shows are, texting and Facebook*, and where the next month’s rent is coming from if they drink it up now. I plan ahead and stick to the plan. They change the plan at the drop of a hat and just call everybody with the news.
After a while I realized that, even if we’re the same age, I’m older than these people by quite a few years. I want to continue living the more mature, adult life Ian and I started establishing in Massachusetts — a life of commitments, really — while most of these people seem to be totally commitment-free. Of course, I could have completely misread the situation and have drawn utterly erroneous conclusions. The next 10 days of AmeriCorps training, during which I’ll be living and interacting with all the AmeriCorps interns very intensively, will effectively confirm or refute my assertions. I’ll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, I’ll work on getting my gills to work out in the air.
* Having gotten into doing Facebook a fair amount in the last 2 months, I hold by my initial opinion. It’s fake friendship, a panacea to the pervasive sense of isolation and loneliness pervading our society. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post.