as we grow older, we expand in so many different ways.
we grow physically, of course. we become larger, taller. we men become bulkier and sturdier (well, most of us do).
and our worlds constantly expand as well. new friends, new places, new favorites, new adventures. i think this is a necessary part of maturation and personal evolution. "enlarge my territory," i phrase it in one of my mantras. i've been repeating the same mantra off and on since freshman year of college, and to this day it is faithfully answered when i focus on it.
with time and effort and a sense of investment, our friendships become more sturdy, more reliable. the less are weeded out from the more worthwhile. our social circles grow and encompass, and often they stretch a bit to include some great people who otherwise might seem like outliers.
lately my territory has been enlarging quite a bit. my world has been expanding through the help of new friends and acquaintances, new experiences and adventures. let's just say i've been doing a lot of "social networking" recently. it's the part-time job of every single man.
my recent social expansion has taken me to some unexpected places. after years of joking about Fishtown hipsters (for you New Yorkers, i'll point out that Philly's Fishtown is like NY's Williambsburg: it's inconvenient, hard to get to, none of the mainstream bars are located there, and of course it's full of dirty hipsters... but it has the potential for so much fun, it's usually worth the trip), i've recently begun hanging out in Fishtown and other areas of too-far-north Philadelphia.
for me, hanging out in a hipster neighborhood in Philly is like traveling to the UK. i speak the language, but i don't fit in. the beers are all brewed locally but are completely foreign to me, and you'll get the side eye for asking for anything "light." the pants are all so much tighter than mine, even though i'm gay and wear some pretty tight jeans. no one wears button-down shirts. ever. unless they're genuine flannel. which makes me feel awkward, since button-downs have become a staple of my wardrobe these days. finally -- well, no. don't get me started on deodorant.
in the end, i feel out of place. slightly insecure. the strange thing is that there was a time, long before i ever found myself unexpectedly hanging out in the Northern Liberties, that i would've fit in and felt comfortable there. during my early 20's there were a few chameleon years when i would've worn anything and felt comfortable. i was skinny and self-confident enough - cocky, even - to feel good in any situation with any number of new people.
then i became a lawyer. i gained weight like a 30-year old man. i became set in my ways and resistant to anything outside my comfort zone. i became borderline uncool (please, just humor me with the "borderline"). i started wearing "slacks" every day, leaving my collection of favorite jeans sitting alone and emotionally wounded in my closet. i have more ties than i have pairs of casual shoes. what happened to me?
but that's a discussion for another time...
regardless of where life has led thus far, we all need to keep evolving, keep expanding, keep enlarging our territory, if you will. which reminds me of a deeply philosophical discussion i had with my bff when we recently attended a high school friend's wedding:
me: "Wow, she really hasn't changed since she was 19. That's sad..."
bff: "Is it? Or is it good, that she's still the same person?"
me: "No, that's not good. We're supposed to change, to have new ideas, and to evolve as we get older."
bff: "I guess you're right. If I hold my glass under the table, can you pour some vodka into it?"
me: "Sure. But the flask is almost empty. Can you re-fill in the car?"