Friday, December 7, 2007

More Things I Miss About Being Young, But Not Really

I was probably seventeen, and it was Friday night, and we were going to go out to dinner at one of the really good places, which meant that it probably cost like $8 a person, but everybody had other complicated plans that had to be pursued first and it was in the pre-cellphone era so nobody could get in touch with each other and everybody got all pissed off with everybody else, for slowing things down, or for being impatient, or something, so then we weren't going to go, and in that simmering stew of tension I decided that I hated everybody and everything and I went storming off and took the last BART of the night to Fremont, which was the end of the line, and I had this idea that I would go walking moodily along the streets of Fremont and never trust anybody again, but then I wound up calling my friends from Denny's and we talked it all over on the phone, and we made up and our friendship was better and stronger for it but I was still stuck in Fremont until 5 a.m. and I read the East Bay Express at the station and learned that this Brazilian martial art called capoeira was all the rage.

So this is kind of related to this post, and particularly to Noko Marie's comment on it. Because I remember those years, from my late teens to maybe twenty three or so, as the glory years of fighting.

You get older, and you only fight with people that really are your near ones and dear ones. And mostly you try not to fight with them. I mean, that's not really true, but nowadays I mostly think of fighting as something to avoid. I know how much of a jerk I'm capable of being, past experience has taught me that in retrospect I will think I was at least somewhat in the wrong in a situation, and, last but not least, you realize you're not going to change anything by going off to Fremont for the night.

But I kind of miss that mood. You get upset, part of the reason you're upset is things other people are doing, and so you really need to explain to them how they are upsetting you. And you do, and they explain to you what you've done to exacerbate the situation, and you see that as deeply unfair and totally harshly critical. And then you repeat it. Hopefully, you both draw in allies.

I think I miss it because it seems, in retrospect, both so light-hearted and serious. Serious because, while the direct causes we fought about were mostly mind-boggling stupid (an epic and drawn out feud over the loss of some rubber duckies being the best example thereof) we were fighting about real things, about how much you can expect from other people, about where the boundaries are. Light-hearted, really, only in retrospect, but light-hearted because you have to have an inordinate trust in the world around you to think that you can scream and yell and storm out and expect to be able to go out to dinner the next night.

I don't know. There are a couple of pretty good friends from that period that I actually wound up losing in fights. It changed the mood of it all. But it's hard to say. Other people that I fought with just as bitterly are still my friends. Some people that I never dreamed of fighting with aren't.

I don't actually miss the fights. I do miss the idealism, though, the belief that the air could be cleared and everything transformed if we just talked at each other long enough. Also, I still feel like I would be cooler now if I had jumped on the capoeira bandwagon back then.


Charlie said...

I sometimes wonder whether I stopped fighting with people as I grew older because I became more tolerant of their humanity/foibles or because I saw the inefficacy of it all.

Octopus Grigori said...

Wow. I can't top that comment.

I just wanted to say that fights are sometimes like a good rainshower in L.A.

Captain Colossal said...

It's not like tolerance and the realization of inefficacy are unrelated. I mean, if you know you can't change something, there's a greater incentive to tolerate it if you can.

And I agree with the Octopus -- every now and then there's nothing like a good fight to clear the skies and/or lead to hazardous mudslides and traffic pileups.

Anonymous said...

i think we are all a lot more tired these days. Who can fight? I mean, yes, getting one's back up is refreshing in rough-and-ready-sort-of-way, but who hasn't been on the phone, or staring across the table at a restaurant, or even in some sort of transportational experience with the co-fightee and just wanted to get to the next moment?

Captain Colossal said...

That is so goddamn true. You're like, "okay, what comes next?"