Just a brief little understanding of my social awkwardness, and my younger personality:
As young as I can remember, I’ve always had a difficult time making and holding onto friends. Not that I was bullied or anything, well, I may have been bullied from time to time, but we were kids, kids are assholes. But truthfully, I was just a very shy little boy. My best friends were my mom and dad, and my cousins whenever I would see them. My cousins were actually my best friends. We were all one year apart in age, I was in the middle. But man, I loved seeing them. Even my aunts and uncles were pretty bad-ass too. But sadly, I would only go see them two or three times a year since I lived on the Jersey Shore and they lived in North Jersey.
For the most part, I kept myself pretty busy. I had a solid collection of G.I. Joes and Nintendo games. And every now and again, a kid of two from my neighborhood would ring the doorbell for me to either come out and play, or join me inside to play video games. I was content with my childhood, I adapted to being an introvert.
My teenage years were a little more awkward. Middle school was hell for a shy, timid loser like myself. I couldn’t wait to enter high school. But freshman year at Howell High School was by far the worst. I started getting a sense of slight depression, and I felt the loneliest that I’ve felt in my life. The summer of ’96 was terrifying. My parents officially split by this time and I had no choice but to leave the house I grew up in and relocate to Brick Township two towns over, where I really wouldn’t know anyone. It was summer. I should be out enjoying it with other friends, but there was nobody. Going from a huge house to a crappy small 2 bedroom apartment difficult for me to process. So I would hop on my bike and peddle as fast as I was able to. No destination in mind, I just wanted to get out of the apartment and try to at least make the best of my lonely summer. That was also the summer where I started getting into ska-punk. So I spent a lot of summer days laying on my bedroom floor listening to bands like Reel Big Fist, Less Than Jake, Suicide Machines, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Rancid.
The first day at my new school. I had major anxiety that day. I purposely missed the bus so I wouldn’t have to face the new faces. After finding my homeroom, I claimed the seat/desk closest to the teachers desk in the very front row so I could talk as low as I can, but just loud enough so the teacher can hear me. Years later I self-diagnosed myself with social anxiety.
A few months in at my new school, a couple of girls felt bad that I always sit alone at the lunch table, so they came over to sit down with me. I immediately thought they were great, but that’s only because I wasn’t used to people approaching me wanting to be friends. So we hung out a little after school. It was different. I don’t remember exactly what it was about them, but at some point I decided to stop hanging out with them. I caught a bad vibe. So I turned my back to them and chose to be on my own yet again. By the spring time, there were a couple kids I would talk to in the halls between classes or in gym. We hit it off because we listened to the same music. I secretly wanted to be friends with them, but didn’t know how to do that.
I believe it was May 3rd 1997 that The Offspring was coming to the Stone Pony. I didn’t want to go alone, but accepted the fact that if I want to get out once in a while and go to a show, I better stop worrying about being alone and start enjoying life my own way. So there I was, at the Stone Pony. I ran into those kids from school, and met their friends as well. That was the night that started a chain reaction of the many people who would be entering my life over the next 10 years. We became a family. In their eyes, it was cool to be a loser. I had never heard of that before. They new I was shy and unsure of myself, and they took me in. As it turned out, we all had similar problems.
As we eventually grew up, went to college, got married, had kids, left NJ, or whatever.. we still, 22 years later, will always be there for one another.
Yeah sure, I moved to North Carolina with my wife, had a couple of kids, and bought a house. And I knew that I would never replace my NJ friends, but eventually started becoming a little depressed again. This time it was different though. I didn’t feel as lonely as I used to, I had acquaintances, my neighbors were pretty cool, and NJ was only a 10 hour drive if I ever wanted to go home. My wife made all the friends, they all loved her but I could tell they really didn’t like me much. well, maybe they liked me a little, but definitely had no desire to invite just me out for a beer or something, or anything like that. I was socially awkward, had very little interest in sports, and was liberal. They weren’t any of that. All they wanted to do was talk about football and nascar, and all I wanted to do was talk about the Bouncing Souls and Descendents. Whenever we would get together, I would sit there with a fake smile on my face and listen as they talk about the Carolina Panthers, and in my head I would yell “where are my fucking friends??”.
I just knew that I had to get out of NC. 9 years is way too long. So, my family and I decided to embark on a journey cross country and hang our hats in San Diego. It’s amazing here, it really is. And the people, these are the people I need to be around. Everyone here is so open-minded, and its teaching me to more open-minded as well.
Now, the whole purpose of this story was to talk about what comes next.
Almost two years in San Diego and I still don’t have any friends. It didn’t bother me, at first. I am here with my kids and my wife. My wife didn’t know anybody here either, at first. Since it would be foolish for the both of to work because childcare is so damn expensive, we’ve decided that one of us will work, and the other would stay home with the kids. She has been a nurse for 11 years and pay out here for nurses is ridiculous. She works while I be a stay at home dad. She has always been the social butterfly of the family, definitely not me. She gets a long with everyone. She has friends. Her co-workers are her friends. And she has hinted to me from time to time that she may want to go to with her co-workers without me around. The problem with that is that I am so co-dependent on her. I am just fine being a stay at home dad, taking care of school functions, bringing them to their doctor appointments, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, etc.. I’m ok with all of that, in fact I kind of enjoy it. But I’m surrounded by kids day in and day out with NO adult interaction. I need more adults in my life, which is why I cling onto my wife. Maybe its jealousy. Like why should she go out and have adult time without me, and I can’t? No, she really doesn’t go out that much, but I think its because she is afraid of hurting my feelings. If I can just have some adult friends of my own then it would be fine. But I don’t have that. I wish I did, but I just don’t. It’s just the kids and I. She works overnights and sleeps during the day, so we barely even have time for each other as it is.
How does a 38 year old man meet people? How does a 38 year old man go up to someone wearing Alkaline Trio shirt and say “great fucking band. Wanna be friends?”. You just don’t do that, its weird. How do guys make friends? Honestly, I’ve wondered if starting a Tinder account would help. No, not for hookups. I would never cheat on my wife because I’m not a lying scumbag, but Ive thought of something like Tinder and just stating that I am ONLY here for friends, and then just see if that starts a chain reaction like it did for me in ’97. But I couldn’t do that because it would look really bad if I were to join something like that. I would be misunderstood. I feel pathetic.
One thought on “We should hang..”
You go up to them and say “great fucking band” if a conversation happens it happens, if it doesn’t you had a brief moment with a kindred spirit and you both now know you’re not alone in the world. Also, for the record not all of your old neighbors gave a shit about the Panthers and Nascar, I also give zero fucks about them so I can relate to your feeling out of place with virtually everyone else around here.
And while it seems we view the world differently I always liked you and thought you were a good dude, it was always clear the love you had for Bonnie and your boys, and that’s honestly a pretty good jumping off point for finding things in common with people.
Before this becomes a novel, I just wanna say I’m glad you’re putting this out there, you never know who’s reading and how it’s gonna help them. And your honest unfiltered take makes it that much more approachable.
So perhaps we’ll see you on the East Coast some time, maybe even in NC and we can grab that beer.
All the best and keep at it,