It only seemed like yesterday when I went to my first rave. I was 18 at the time, and was the cringey, weird kind of kid who never had any real friends when she went to school. During my high school and college years, all I ever wanted was a group of friends to hang out with me on a regular basis, to get invited to parties, and just belong.
When I had decided to go to my first rave, I found what I had always wanted during my teenage years: friends. It didn’t take too long for raving and geekery to become my entire lifestyle. In fact, I even would skip work and school just so that I could attend parties with my friends. My friends, my scene, those were my everything.
Nobody in my group of friends had enough money for their own apartment, and most of us didn’t even have a stable family life. Some of my friends were runaways, fleeing abuse at the hands of family members with nothing but the clothes on their backs. A couple even stowed away on freight trains to get to parties. We were poor as dirt, and each of us was a hot mess in a unique way.
But, when we pooled our resources together, we had enough to have shelter, food, and fun. In this sense, we were a lot like a ragtag group of artists, dancers, and bon vivants who just made do on a diet of poverty, music, and laughter. And, for a while, it worked.
I never thought I’d see the day when I would be lukewarm about attending parties – but time has a funny way of changing people.
Slowly, I just started getting bored and annoyed with everything that was going on in the scene. Living that way is tiring, even if you’re the most diehard hippie out there. Though there’s a lot of “hippie utopia” in the life I used to live, there’s a lot of dystopian stuff about it too. As time went on, I began to notice it more and more.
A large portion of it was that I didn’t have the energy to do it all. I got tired of having to deal with drama between my friends and guys I was dating. I got tired of working, only to be let go from jobs because I’d keep ducking out so that I could be with my friends. I got tired of having to pony up money that I didn’t have just because I was expected to do so, while others in my group never seemed to work much at all.
Eventually, things happened in my life that literally forced me to leave my friends for a long period of time. During that time, I began to get my stuff in order. When I came back, I had been employed and lived a semi-normal life. I greeted my friends happily, and then I realized that I was no longer the same as them.
I began to want something more than what they had to offer in that lifestyle. I began to work towards a lifestyle that was more suited to me. I was growing as a person, and yet, there they were, years later, still exactly the same as the day I left. They looked the same. They still had the same kind of quasi-jobs they did years ago. Half of the time, they even still wore the same clothes as when I first met them as a teenager.
At 29 years old, I had grown up, but my friends had decided to stay in Neverland.
And, it’s stunted my ability to bond with them. I can’t talk to them about career stuff, because they don’t look highly upon careers. I can’t talk to them about investments or books, because they think that’s boring. I can’t bring them to fancy restaurants or spas because they still don’t know how to behave in those venues and they often get uncomfortable around wealthy people. I can’t even introduce them to new friends because they just wouldn’t fit in.
Nowadays, I still talk to them once in a while, but it’s not the same. Looking at them now is a lot like looking at a ghost that keeps reliving moments of its life, or a photobook of beautiful memories pictured in black and white. It’s haunting, heartbreaking, and strange to see this happen to so many people you know. They have become living, breathing memories of who I once was, and of places I once lived in.
Sadly, that’s all they seem to be becoming. While I grew up, they just all stayed the same…and it’s forcing me to grow apart from them. I can’t rewind time, or revert back to the person I used to be. And now, at almost 30 years old, the only question on my mind is “What now?”