Featured Image: “Pro-Smooch Band” pillow à la The Stupid Robots
I have officially passed my probationary period for my new friend group – and I have been awarded access to the largest group chat I’ve ever been a part of.
We recently attended a festival that two of the several bands that make up this friend group were playing at. At full capacity, 30 friends were in and out of Camp Stupid Traffic.
And you may ask yourself – how close can a group of 30 people even be? Well, as a pro-smooch band, I saw on-the-lips kisses and always a hug goodbye. I saw friends picked up and plopped into better sleeping arrangements. I saw friends feeding friends smoked meats. I saw backrubs and cuddling, and group trips to the porta potty. Every morning there were “how are you feeling”‘s galore as we all checked in on each other. And of course there was a glorious amount of making fun of each other, with minimal hurt feelings.
Being in that campsite felt like a little community. We had a cook, a pitboss, a masseuse, a handy-man and each an entertainer of their own.
Adult friendships are hard to make and even harder to maintain– but these guys make it look easy. We even made an addition to the group just that weekend– scooped them up and added them to the train like a game of snake. There are few people that wouldn’t jive with this group and yet it still has the air of exclusivity. There are jokes to be in on, lore to learn, and a group chat to be privileged to.
I’m so grateful to be in a squad that just wants to have a hootin’ time while also deeply caring about one another. I am so thankful that they that took me so willingly under their wing after I lost my childhood friend group (not dead, just jerks). I can not imagine what these last ten months would have been like without them. I had thought that I would be doomed to a life of loose acquaintances that were hard to maintain, and then eventually marry some schmuck because I had no friends to tell me not to, and be forever on the outskirts of any group. I didn’t think it was possible to find an adult friend group that wasn’t the new neighbors or the PTA. Even in college it was hard to infiltrate a premade group– you might show up sometimes but you would never truly be a part of it, they would never pick you up from the airport, or pet sit your cats, or grab you a gatorade when they’re at the store. I have waited a long time to find a community that I truly connect with that wasn’t born from preconstructed connections like school or proximity. How seemingly rare it is to have common interests and similar temperament. And god, to be liked not just for being a pretty face!
Friendships are hard to nail down in terms of definitions– it’s not how often you see each other, or how much you have in common, or even how much you like each other, it’s what you would do for them. Would you move their listless body into a comfortable sleeping arrangement or let them wake up in agony? Would you help them move apartments? Would you escort them to the porta potty in the middle of the night so they’re not stabbed by a rabid wook? Would you charge their juul while they were sleeping? Would you wash their dishes on a rough day?
And they show up for each other too. They see each other’s bands play, they go to their comedy shows, they buy each other’s art, watch each other’s short films, some even read my blog; they fully support each other in their artistic endeavors. For gods sake, the 30 or so of them showed up to a cowboy-themed 30th birthday party dressed to the goddamn nines in full cowboy regalia— the hats, the fake guns, the sheriff badges, the freakin bolo ties. I was amazed and touched.
And one of the most important aspects of true friendship: the ability to say almost anything without judgment—and this group has a very wide allowance for what can be said amongst them. I love to be able blurt out my thoughts without being shut down or made to feel silly or like an asshole. Not every thought is pure, not every joke is funny, and not everything makes even an iota of sense, but who’s to say it isn’t or doesn’t until you say it out loud? Keeping our thoughts and feelings to ourselves is how miscommunication happens, how fights happen, and how actions are misconstrued. A person can’t apologize, or empathize, or reassure you if you never speak your mind. Especially in a world where saying the wrong thing can get you canceled, you need a safe space to spew your bullshit. And, further down the line, you need a Julia to your Winston to whisper sweet thoughtcrimes low enough that the ever-listening devices don’t hear you. If you can’t tell them everything now, you’ll never be able to trust them during the collapse of private society.
You’re going to need your confidants, your pit bosses, your cooks, your masseuses, your handymen and your artists and entertainers to make it through the fall of the U.S. government. America has drilled the ideal of rugged individualism down our throats but we cannot do everything ourselves, and we shouldn’t. It is innate to human nature to come together, to share stories, to do things for one another, to problem solve together, and for god’s sake the human body basically has a daily hug quota for emotional wellness.
I’ve never really been a hugger myself, for reasons yet to be unpacked, but I find myself more and more comfortable with the hugs goodbye from all the friends I have now, and I’m really happy with myself in my ability to open up so quickly to others and to let them into my personal space with open arms.
And the following is just for the patrons of the Camp Stupid Traffic craps table…