Every three months, I HAD TO meet up in-person with my close friends in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
I would be in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Gold Coast of Connecticut, or Barcelona, Spain.
That journey was sacred, like the pilgrimages of medieval times.
Mostly the relationships went back to college days, those rigid times in the mid 1960s, before the counterculture loosened up values and lifestyles.
Those human emotional security blankets ranged from my former college roomie Charlotte Toal to the woman who listened patiently to my growing angst (I was developing a full-blown anxiety disorder) M. Lynn Rickert.
The flashbacks of those times together remain vivid. They count more in the memory bank than landing a high-paying job or losing lots of weight. (I had been fat-shamed in college.)
We were so unlike iGen. At least back then. Back then ended for me in Q2 2014.
In her book by that title, Jean Twenge describes how those born between 1995 and 2012 can go on forever without making meaningful in-person contact with other human beings. Essentially, that might even include family members. The members of iGen can hang out in their room, busy with digital whatevers. Out there, their focus could be tethered to their phones which give them access to the internet.
Of course, our tribe has been affected by the digital revolution. No one from the old days has used voice for years, not for socializing. Instead there could be email, postings on Facebook, an e-greeting card, or the $10 Starbucks e-gift certificate.
There was one member of the tribe whom I did encounter in-person - Kathy Huebner - I wish I hadn't. She had been an acquaintance from college.
What I still perceive as a puzzling ordeal occurred April 2014 through May 2014. I had relocated to where she had retired - southwestern Arizona. I experienced the interaction as unsettling. Understatement.
I was at a vulnerable time of my little life. At the top of the list were struggling with aging, rebuilding my communications boutique, and weighing the decision about what to do with an aggressive rescue dog.
After sending a digital message to Huebner not to contact me again, I never again sought to meet up with anyone from the good old days.
My belief in the restorative value of getting together with old friends was broken. Yes, that AZ experience was right up there with other traumas which never really heal. They recede in our consciousness when we create new space. That new space has been Eastern Ohio. AZ seemed jinxed.
Currently, I distance myself socially from most human beings as do members of iGen. Was it the Huebner Effect? Or, finally growing up? Are human beings, as William Shakespeare hammered, "cankered in the grain?" The Roman Catholic Church labels that "original sin."
For the minimum needed in human contact, in order not to drift into madness from isolation, I swing by the Buddhist temple and various support groups.
From the get-go, did iGen discover something about the fragility of human relationships that my tribe is just recognizing? Was our take on the inherent value of friendship naïve?
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