The Account of a Lifetime

September 28, 2011

The Many Circles

Filed under: Reflections,Visions of the future — xisor @ 2:28 am

I find myself often acting like a very lonely person. It’s perhaps unsurprising that I often feel extremely lonely. For a very long time, perhaps all my life, I’ve cherished that loneliness.

I’ve often remarked, when pushed on it, that I enjoy the loneliness. The solitude is certainly something I’ve enjoyed. One of the best holidays of my life, the trip to Prague in 2006, is ‘the best’ in spite of the actual quality of the holiday. It highlighted the trouble of the relationship I was in at the time, even though I was arguably too blind (or too deluded) to see it. That blindness certainly accounts for its end; I’d like to consider myself a misanthrope of a sociopath, but I think the truth is somewhat less appealing than that.

A Wonderful City

I really enjoyed Prague!

No, the trip to Prague was excellent. I loved that city. Really, I can’t think of a place I really felt more…comfortable. Perhaps it’s something to do with being in tears on a stone cold bathroom floor that melds ones’ ‘soul’ to a place, I assume that’s what happens in Soul Binding, tears before the Golden Throne. But I digress. Prague was excellent. Soup in breads, drinking bars dry of absinthe, wonderful city steeped in history. It really felt like a wonderful place. It also highlighted that I don’t treat my friends very well. Or something like that, the happiest day was when I got frustrated with them all and resolved to wander off, alone. It was excellent, I found some marvellous hilltop gardens and had a good old, proper explore without having to account for why I’m going one way rather than the other.

But that’s the crux of the issue, deep down: accounting for my decisions. I can do it pretty well, but I despise having to do it. In retrospect, I perhaps wonder if that’s what ended the last relationship. Then again, I think I offer things in a valuable way, I’m honest and, on things which I think are valuable (like not just lying for the hell of it), I’m pretty damn decent and, if I say so myself, comport myself with quite decent integrity. But toeing to other peoples’ bizarre-or-sensible rules and expectations? Somehow it vexes me.

And, in that regard, I have in the past found myself with contempt for my friends. And I hate myself for that. In Prague the ‘trouble’ was we were a big group of friends who’re immensely indecisive but who hate having to hang about and who, frankly, couldn’t stand other people making bad decisions. It’s a bad setup, simply, regardless of how excellent people were (and they all still are) otherwise. Seriously, Prague shouldn’t have been a good holiday for me. Nevertheless, the city grappled me. To put it in the manner I did for the Bolthole’s RP, its spirit had infected me. Like some sort of magical wood near your house (if you lived in a Fantasy Universe), the spirit of the woods gets into your head and captures you, binding you to fondness for the place, no matter what you suffer near it.

We drank it dry of absinthe

B52: What could be better?

Prague was really awesome though. Fantastic place with fantastic food and fantastic drinks. Nice place to visit with fantastic friends too, but a bit of perspective and forethought on the group dynamic is advisable.

Who knew it would come to this?

Side-effects may vary

The Last Circle

As you may gather, I valued the friends I went away with that year. I met some of them just a month ago. For a wedding, actually. One of them was the groom, the other the best man. It was an excellent, excellent day. Prague was the precursor to a distinctive ‘epoch’ in my life. I should elaborate on that.

For the five years (and three summers) that I lived in St Andrews, I didn’t stay in the same place twice (except for two of the summers). In first year it was St Regulus, second out on Scooniehill Road, third in Andrew Melville, fourth in Albany Park, that summer in Fife Park, fifth in Macintosh, that summer in Fife Park again and, surprisingly with a year’s gap in between, the summer after down on Largo Road. Before St Andrews I lived in Cowdenbeath. After St Andrews I spent a winter (their summer) in New Zealand and now at least a year in Stirling. It’s been seven years since starting University, thirteen since starting High School.

I think the last circle, if it can be put that way, is one which is composite, it’s composed of perhaps some of the most enduring friendships I’ve had in my life. Not all of the enduring friendships, certainly, but as collections go, it feels pretty special.

Enduring Frienships

Seven years and still going strong

The wedding highlighted something that I haven’t really been completely conscious of but which, if I’d known before (and held it in mind [and relied on it]) would perhaps have saved myself more than a few thoroughly shambolic episodes. That is: in certain circles, especially this Last Circle, I find myself without account. Or rather, with people whom I’m wholly comfortable accounting myself to. They know me, they … forgive me. We have an understanding. It’s nice. Had I been more aware of that, I perhaps would’ve conducted myself with more sense and foresight when I cast myself adrift and into new seas in a circle wholly beyond that lot.

Well, I say wholly beyond, that’s not strictly true, but it was without that…comfort. Without the closeness of that group. It was decidedly trying. That would be fifth year, a rather long time ago now. But, without the cherished elements of the circles that came before fifth year, before Macintosh, I wouldn’t have developed a rather enjoyable and wholly different circle, a circle which, I suppose, has pretty significantly dominated my life since, one way or another.

This does offer many a laughable story

A Circle for the Finale

It’s amusing to see it go that direction. If you’d known me when I was, say, fourteen, I think the only possible circle I could ever end up in would be a circle of the most debased geeks.

I led St Andrews to a 3-3 draw with Dundee that day. Two more Assault Marines dead and it would've been a 4-2 victory for us.

Debased? I think not! Upstanding gents if ever I met some.

But it still stands to some reason, I’ve always considered myself somewhat lucky when it comes to my friends. If you’d bear in mind what I said to begin with, it’d be nice to assume that I’m somehow sociopathic or just misanthropic: the trouble is, I’m not. I adore other people, especially the ones I quite like. The trouble is, I’m a bit of a dick to them when I’m not careful (or when I am careful and still manage to be a prat).

It’s been a common complaint levelled against me that I won’t admit I’m wrong and, more achingly, that I won’t say sorry. The trouble is, ultimately, I do. Or at least I feel I do. I feel I’m wrong and sorry all the time. (Woe is me.) It’s not a complaint in that regard, but it does highlight something pretty crucial: there’s a gulf between my perceptions and the perceptions of others. Shooting off phrases like ‘bias’ doesn’t help my case.


Other Circles

That’s enough worry grumbling. These many circles are some of the things I cherish most about my life (possibly on the same level as my fez, kimono, teapot and ‘Albanian’ cap). The problem, then, is maintaining them. I’m rubbish at that. It could constitute a demon in itself, though I’ll refrain from it. Looking backwards, and treating ‘the Last Circle’ as not a proper circle as much as simply a ‘current’ one, I find myself with a very wide selection of people I really, deeply consider friends (or, at worst, valued acquaintances [that’s not fair, a very tiny few people in them I consider abominable blights, but that can be repaired, probably]).

This year I had the pleasure of making two whole circles of friends who’re almost entirely ‘from scratch’. My workmates and my coursemates, people I’d never known before yet whom I’ve grown very fond of. I think it’s safe to say that if I’ve met you, you can probably count yourself safely in at least one valued circle!

Before them, I had a small circle of workmates at the Vineleaf and Uni Hall. And before that…well, actually. Before that there were some…intersections. I met a lot of people in New Zealand, but I rarely met them for more than one ‘sequence of stuff happening’, which bothered me a lot at the time, but I had no capacity to ‘rectify’ it. I fear, perhaps, those people are welcome to join the circles, but are…forever separated. Maybe not forever, but I’ll be extremely surprised (and pleased) should they crop up again.

Actually, stretching from here right back to the very beginnings of first year at St Andrews I have another circle. Perhaps one of the fondest for me, if not the closest. DocSoc. They’re a swell bunch.

This was actually my second year of exposure to Doc Soc, but I always think of that year as 'my DocSoc'

My DocSoc. They were an excellent bunch,!

But, like all things, they changed. Well, they grew. The situation changed and different people appeared. It was good though. Fantastic, you might say. Absolutely fantastic.

A newer DocSoc, but still not the latest.

They Regenerated

But DocSoc extends, appropriately, rather far back in time. Further back, even, than before they existed. Appropriate indeed. The next pertinent circle is the sprawling set of people I worked with at DRA, an excellent and highly varied bunch, they added a lot to my life. Even Martin, probably.

DRA, of course, was contemporaneous with the Macintosh/Fifth Year Circle. And with them came the ‘end’ of the circle of Theoretical Physicists with whom I was very close, we all graduated that year and allegedly fled the nest. They did, I lingered in other circles.

Fourth year. I think fourth year and the prior circles deserve their own discussion. Looking back in the Bebo retrospective blogs I uploaded to here, you might find some insight, some tales ‘from the horse’s mouth’. I won’t discuss that just yet.


Reflecting on Circles

It is not without some sadness I consider that, for over a week now, the only circle with which I’ve had proper contact is work. When I think of myself ‘at my best’, both in terms of not-being-a-dick and actually being at my most competent, it was always when I was immersed in more than one circle almost continuously. Though I adore breaks and am a huge fan of a leisurely life, I cannot any more deny that, realistically, I’m hopeless without that exposure. I think, and I might be wrong, the variation is key, that it’s jumping from one situation to the next that helped most, keeping the plates spinning. Or the circles, perhaps.

It is a mistake, possibly, to then assert that ‘jumping from one situation to the next’ is basically a long way of saying ‘adventure’. Nevertheless, that’s precisely what I am doing. What is called for is an adventure. A nice, big adventure. Unfortunately, the only item on the schedule is work, tomorrow, starting 12pm. By my reckoning, it’s the 28th of September, 2011, the day a new adventure shall begin. (Whether reality approves or not.)


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