On the recommendation of a number of coworkers, I started reading Delivering Happiness the other day, by the CEO of Zappos. I’m about a third of the way into it, and while the book is only so-so—he’s a CEO, not a novelist—it’s an interesting story. I just got past the part where he talks about his group of friends in the early days of Zappos, and describes them as his tribe.
Naturally, this got me thinking about Urban Tribes, a book I read about 6 years ago on the recommendation of esteemed friend (and at that time, esteemed colleague) Jeff Mace. At the time, I really connected with the idea, being in that post-collegiate point in my life where it was difficult to imagine not living in an apartment with a few of my friends, and spending every weekend out with the rest of them.
This is exactly why it struck such a chord when I read the passage this afternoon. I realized: I don’t have a tribe any more. I have a few friends with whom I get together now and then, but the friends with which I was closest have moved out to the suburbs, or had kids, or both, or moved to a different city entirely. I no longer see anyone as often as I used to see everyone. It often seems that the closest friends I’ve got are the folks that I see a couple times a month at Drupal events, and even then, I’m not sure I know any of them well enough that we’d be considered friends.
Shortly after college, I was struck by the fact that, without classes and dorm halls, there was no longer a built-in architecture for making friends. I did pretty OK for a few years in spite of that, but having lost the close relationships I had with college friends and the tangential friends-of-friends relationships they led to, my social life has changed completely. Things aren’t like they were in our early 20’s. I no longer have the option of sending out a Facebook message in the morning, and spending that evening in a bar with people I like. Even if I could, I’d feel guilty about the things on my todo list that were neglected so that I could enjoy the evening out.
Ever so subtly, we all grew up, and eventually found ourselves exactly where I always feared we would: scattered and alone. Or, at least, I did.