To go out, or to stay in: that is the question.
This past weekend, I spent a wonderful couple of days in Rhode Island. I was there for a friend’s 30th birthday, and after dinner and a bit of barhopping on Friday night, we packed Saturday full of enough activities to stay busy, while trying to keep the pace as leisurely as possible. We walked the cliffs of Newport, ate delicious lobster rolls, and the day was capped off at a brewery where we witnessed a rainstorm that, if it persisted, it would have swept my barstool away with me on it. When our drinks were finished, we headed back to the apartment. In doing so, we made the mistake that countless others have made when they’ve been out and about in the hot summer sun: we relaxed.
We had planned to go out, and had even scoped out a couple of places to visit, but once we stopped moving, we knew we weren’t getting back up. We rationalized our choice by acknowledging our jam-packed Saturday, as well as our late night on Friday, and someone suggested that we stay in and order food. The idea was met with little resistance, and the decision was final. I’m not sure anyone had the energy to protest, even if they wanted to.
I’m not sure I would have supported our choice when I was in my twenties. After all, when you’re young and able to drink legally, you want to go out and do exactly that. You want to explore bars in cities you’ve never been to, that you may never be in again. That was my first instinct, but instead we ordered a pizza, watched movies, and spent the duration of the evening talking, and I realized that these moments are becoming increasingly rare. Rather than going out and meeting people we’d never see again, we spent the time indoors getting to know more about each other, laughing at stupid jokes, and furthering personal relationships.
When you’re single, there is no shortage of people telling you to get back out there.
It’s a personal choice, one that each person should make for themselves and feel comfortable with, but there’s no doubt that people in your life will try to convince you to do something else, to deviate. Almost always someone is telling you to go out and mingle, and they will make you feel like you’re wasting your time if you’re doing anything but that. It’s a fine line to walk, and there’s a lot to be said for meeting new people, but sometimes you really just want to spend time with close friends.
As we get older, our lives diverge from one another. We pick up different interests, fall in love, move, and maybe even have a family. We drift apart, and only by consciously choosing to spend time together do we pull each other back in. Some people will fade out of your life, and you’ll realize that those relationships didn’t mean as much to you as you thought they did, but when you start to lose someone important, that loss can be devastating. Conversely, it can be an amazing experience when both people realize that they don’t want to let the other go, and they both put in the effort to make sure the relationship doesn’t end.
I’ll always choose to invest my time in a good friendship. When you’ve had friends that you’ve grown up with, it becomes increasingly apparent just how much effort you’ve put into staying in each other’s lives. You know that they mean more to you than most, and you know that you’re willing to go to incredible lengths to make it work. You’re willing to go above and beyond, and that effort is almost always rewarded. Maybe that’s why my love life isn’t that interesting, and why it hasn’t been interesting for a few years now.
Maybe it comes down to making conscious memories. We’re all getting older and realizing how fast life goes, but we’re also realizing that we’d much rather have nights that stay with us forever, that we’ll remember, with people we’ll remember. We want moments and conversations to draw upon when times aren’t so positive. The best relationships in your life are the ones where you can enjoy a good drink together, but you also know that a drink isn’t necessary to open up the conversation. The best friends in your life are people you can speak to candidly about anything, and you know they’ll show up and listen to you, that they’ll answer the phone when you call, or at the very least they’ll call back shortly.
I’m sure that some see my three-year break from relationships as a waste of time, but I’ll never see it that way. My therapist once told me that you’ve got to put some skin in the game to have a chance, but I stand by the choices that I’ve made. Maybe the tectonic plates of my life will shift, I’ll meet that special person, or someone I already know will become that person, but that’s not today, and it’s not worth worrying about. This year caused me to reevaluate so many things, and while not everything went the way I wanted it to go, the friendships and the lasting memories have carried me through. There are no regrets.
It’s okay to stay inside, especially with good friends. Like a bottle episode of your favorite show, the people trapped in the bottle will get to talking, and in that talking, personal relationships develop and grow. New friends are made, new connections are forged, and people emerge even stronger than they were before. People discover new things about friends they’ve known their entire lives, and the love can be felt if you’re willing to recognize its presence. At first I thought this past Saturday was a missed opportunity to go out in a strange city, but I realized that when we’ve made the right friends, we already have everything we need. Thanks for reading.