There’s a line at the end of the movie Stand By Me where the protagonist, as an adult, waxes nostalgic on the quality of his early adolescent boyhood friendships…and asks (rhetorically) if we ever have friends that good ever again in life. The implied answer is “no”.
One of the odd things about Asperger’s syndrome is how many of us remain emotionally immature well into chronological adulthood. It’s like being stuck forever (emotionally) in one’s awkward teen years and never really escaping. I think, for myself, even having just past 40 years on the planet not long ago, that at best, on a good day, I have the emotional maturity of a well-adjusted NT who is 19. On a good day. At my best. Once upon a time in history, there were Kings and Emperors who ruled vast lands at those chronological ages.
Part of what made High School bearable to me was a small, close knit group of friends I had in my school who were all in the NJROTC together with me. Sean, Shawn, Jase, David…we would spend summer days playing computer games, tactical board games, and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, often well into the night, fueled by too much caffeine and too little sleep and giddy laughter and fart jokes. My friends were all neurotypical, but at least they were nerds like myself. Alas, they have all moved on with their lives, grown up, matured, etc. Many have children. They’ve moved away, gotten married, own homes, make impressive salaries, etc. I used to still keep in close touch with all of them well up through college & grad school and even into my working life for quite a long time. It was acknowledged that it was largely my herculean efforts that kept us surprisingly in touch through the years before Facebook.
Alas, many of those friendships were damaged in the wake of my divorce by my vindictive ex-wife who spread probable falsehoods and slander to my friends while I kept silent, not wishing to burden my friends with my personal troubles, not recognizing that basically I was surrendering what was essentially a propaganda war without fighting back in my own defense; so typically Aspie of me to not even recognize there was this philosophical wider war all around me….I just didn’t see it until it was too late and the damage mostly done.
Yes, we’ve patched things up somewhat since then, we’re all back on speaking terms now and do keep in touch via Facebook, but the closeness we once had seems no longer as strongly manifest. I miss the long nights of just talking about whatever nerdy topic tickled our collective fancy…
One way I combat loneliness now is by the vicarious enjoyment of podcasts relating to such nerdy topics; My most favorite is the Rooster Teeth podcast (formerly known as The Drunk Tank), which is a media entertainment company based in Austin, Texas, responsible for the famous “Red versus Blue” machinima series created using the HALO game system. They talk a lot about current games, movies, their own RT projects, etc, and have great camaraderie and tell lots of jokes and funny stories and make each other laugh. Passively listening via my iPod player, I can laugh along with them and vicariously enjoy the experience of this company of interesting, artistic people who clearly like and enjoy each other’s company. It fills me with some of the same warm feelings I used to derive from actually being able to hang out with my closest friends in my teens and early 20s. It’s not the same, of course, but it’s a close enough simulacrum that it helps keep me from slipping into truly profound loneliness and deeper depression than I already do. It helps pass the time and keep me from getting bored when I work out at the gym. I also enjoy listening to Anime-related podcasts and to a lesser extent news, politics and current events programming as well.
I am so grateful to live in a time where Podcast feeds exist, grateful for the connection it enables for human beings with shared interests.