My computer has been playing up for a few days now and is currently enjoying a stay at the service centre. As a result, I have fallen behind again on my #Reverb10 posts. I am writing this now on my girlfriend’s laptop. It feels strange using a computer that is not configured just so to my own preferences. It’s a little like when you stay in a good hotel; All of the home comforts are there but it just doesn’t feel like home.
Anyway, enough of that. On with the show..
December 7 – Community
As I mentioned before, I don’t surround myself with many people so I’m not much of an authority on ‘community’.
A couple of years ago I moved from my home and landed in another country. That counted as a pretty drastic change of community, I suppose. I was surrounded by a new ethnic group with very different traditions as well as a heavy grounding in different religious beliefs.
I moved for work so aside from the native community, I also became a part of the office community. In my line of work, people don’t stick around for long; When I arrived I met a whole crew of new people and within the first four months, many of them had already moved on. As one moved on, replacement was succinct and so for two years there was a pretty constant flow of people. I was one of the few that hung around long-term and managed to find myself in a mildly authoritative position for most of the new comers.
I have always thrived in this sort of role and I took to it smoothly. I was not the only one who chose to stay, though. I made a good friend in one of the guys that came soon after I did and some form of competition in another.
I’ve left the job now but stayed in the country. Most of the people with whom I had good relationships went back to their home countries just before I finished my contract so when I finished a few months ago, it was a very different place to when I began yet in some ways equally unfamiliar and with a kind of newness.
While I was there, I was witness to a very intriguing dynamic; Every time a new person came, they entered into a group of people that worked, socialised and lived together. They were the quintessential stranger and yet in most instances they were welcomed instantly and very quickly became a part of that group. Each time a new person came, it was not long before they settled in and any outside observer would think that they had been there all along. It was something that everybody involved saw as a great quality. How wonderful it was that such close friendships could be forged so seamlessly.
This closeness, though, was a necessity and when a person left the group there was rarely much of a hole where they had been. For me, it raised a lot of questions about the reality of these friendships and how genuine they were. It raises a lot of questions about how real any community really is.
I’m sure that’s not really the message that was expected of today’s prompt, but that’s where it led me.
December 8 – Beautifully Different
A lot of people I have known have told me that there is something different about me. It’s usually been mentioned as a good thing and It’s something I’ve always liked to hear, even though I haven’t always known exactly to what they were referring.
Besides this, there are some ways in which I actively try to separate myself from the crowd and these are things that I am proud of.
I like to think of myself as an honest person. This isn’t to make such a simple (and unbelievable) statement as “I never lie”. I tell the odd little white and occasionally something bigger. I lie a lot less now than I used to. However, that’s not what I’m talking about here.
A policy I have held pretty strongly for a long time is to always be clear about who I am. Right from the first time I meet someone, I make sure that they don’t meet some filtered down version of me but the real deal. It doesn’t always go smoothly but I figure that if they don’t like me, then it’s better they know that from the start rather than finding it out later. As a result, I don’t have a huge circle of half friends and acquaintances like most do; I have a small number of friends who I know I can count on. I don’t have a full calendar and a wild social life; I have a couple of numbers I know I can call any time.
Another thing I’m pretty happy about is my politeness and good manners. I grew up in England at a time where Antisocial Disorders were rife and the youth culture was making quite a name for itself. I’m not saying I was completely blue-eyed and innocent – I had drunken nights and made mistakes just like every other kid.
I was fortunate enough, however, to have a very close relationship with my grandfather as a child, teenager and young man. He had a large hand in my upbringing and is largely responsible for instilling the gentleman in me.
The English gentleman is a well travelled stereotype and many people all around the world will conjure up images of the suave 007 at the sound of a British accent. Unfortunately, Gentelamus Englandus is a dying breed; The number of people who will hold a door for someone, help carry bags or give up a seat for the elderly is rapidly declining. I would be considered by many as old fashioned, I fear, but I am pleased to be keeping these values alive and will be very happy to pass them on to my own children one day.
There are other ‘differences’ that I think probably make me more weird than beautiful.
I think I will keep these to myself, for now.
December 9 – Party
It’s been a long time since I went to a party of a friend or relative. It’s been a while since I’ve even seen a relative, for that matter.
However, on the party front I actually have a first from this year. At 22 years old, I went to my first halloween party (it’s possible I went to one as a child but if so, I don’t remember so it doesn’t count).
I’ve never been a fan of Halloween as a ‘holiday’ so I wasn’t particularly thrilled at the prospect and made a very minimal effort on the costume (I wore a black shirt and tie and spent most of the night telling people I was either a driver or a funeral director). Nonetheless, I wound up having a nice time.
I still won’t be rushing to celebrate Halloween next year. It wasn’t the theme that I enjoyed and I’m still no more turned on to the general idea of parties. No, what I enjoyed most was being there as my girlfriend’s plus one. It felt really good to say I was there with her when people asked and to know that when people looked at me, they knew I was hers.
I’ve had other girlfriends but I have never once considered myself as belonging to anyone before. Now, I’m in a relationship that I can’t imagine being out of. For the first time, I feel that this is the way the world is supposed to be. At that party, I really felt a sense of belonging as I stood by her side. It made for one of the best parties I’ve ever been to, even if I did cringe at many of the costumes and more so at the effort some had put into making theirs the best.
December 10 – Wisdom
For me, every decision is important. I consider life to be essentially comprised of a series of decisions; Every time you choose to do one thing instead of another you take your life in a certain direction when you could have taken another. That said, of course I believe some decisions are more important than others; Some have more serious consequences and bigger impacts on our lives.
I suppose some of the bigger decisions I have made this year have included leaving my previous place of employment, accepting my new job and moving from my old house into my new apartment. Mostly though, these have been decisions based on necessity. My contract at my old work place was coming to a close and I was feeling fed up being there, so I decided not to renew it. I was looking for a job and not having much success when along came my current employer with an offer that seemed too good to be true, so I took it. My accommodation contract was up and again I had the choice to continue it or move out. I chose to move closer to the city centre, mostly to be closer to my girlfriend. It turned out to be a very fortuitous move as my new job involves a lot of travel and my new apartment enjoys a very central position. Also, my girlfriend recently accepted a new job and her office is just around the corner from where I live. I suppose with this in mind, to move may have been one of the wisest decisions I made even if I didn’t fully realise at the time all of the benefits it would provide.
There is also a smaller, more recent decision that I feel particularly good about. I recently decided to start swimming daily in the pool at my apartment. It’s a long time since I did any exercise of any kind so I am hoping that I can make a solid routine of this and work towards a healthier and fitter me. If I do succeed, it will have definitely been a wise decision.
More on that as it develops.
Currently watching Dexter – Season 5