Back from Alaska
I want to write about the trip. Mostly about the salmon (watching them try to swim upstream). And the glaciers and the Misty Fjords. And what it was like to be literally off the grid. For everyone around you to be literally off the grid. To exist fully in the world. To drink coffee and stare out windows. To read books and sink into long, uninterrupted conversations.
But before that, I had something I wanted to post from earlier in the summer. I think a lot about why modern friendships are so difficult. Especially friendships with kids. There have been great articles about how hard it is to carry on a conversation with children around. And other articles about why getting a babysitter and meeting up with childless friends isn't all that feasible all that often. (Does anyone have a link to that fab article from about five years back about why one dad invited friends to come over and hang out rather than meet up like in pre-kid days?) There seems to be a great emphasis now, at least in New York, on friendships where the primary link is through the kids not the parents (i.e., hanging out with the family of your child's classmate) and a huge emphasis on full-family hangouts in general. Much of that seems like it should be a positive development, and yet from my experience it can feel like a lot of running around and little payoff in terms of actual connection. Instead of meeting up for a few hours with a close friend for say a drink or coffee--just the two of you--the default hang-out seems to be something more like a birthday party, something that requires a great deal of time and energy, involves the whole family and takes over the whole day. I haven't fully worked out my thoughts on this yet--and haven't come close to figuring out whether the net result is really a minus. Certainly one factor is that everyone is so busy during the weekday that the weekends are reserved for whole-family events. I think the wide but shallow friendship net we tend to cast is also an important variable. Partly it may be the natural tapering off of one-on-one friendships as we (many of us) couple off and settle down. That part of the equation is nothing new and not related to our over-wired lives.
What I'm going to post is really just a vignette, but to me, just writing down the surface description of one tiring, all-family, everything-thrown-out-of-whack day is kind of illuminating.