Before I had a kid, socializing didn’t require a purpose. I would just go over to my friend’s apartment, sit on a couch, pop open a beer, and talk. Or, we might walk around the city and hang out in a park. Now the idea of socializing without a plan feels foreign. We typically make a plan a few days in advance. Most of the time, dinner or lunch is involved. If at a restaurant, we would reserve a table. If at home, we would cook a proper meal that might involve half a day to prepare. I can’t remember the last time I said, “Just come over.”
When you have children, you feel you should prioritize spending time with them, so there must be a good reason you are hanging out with someone else.
But maybe this is a function of age. Do people without kids also evolve in the same way? I don’t know because there is always a purpose when I hang out with them now. Socializing in New York is expensive, especially in the winter, because we have to go somewhere indoors. I miss the days when I could be with my friends without a plan or purpose.
I’ve known Mike since college, so we’ve spent countless hours hanging out without a purpose, but not anymore, even though he doesn’t have a child. I carefully chose this Jewish restaurant in advance for our lunch. After we finished our bagels, we walked around for about fifteen minutes and parted ways.
Looking back, the purposeless time we spent together seems wasteful because we are now pressed for time. We must spend any free time available intentionally, otherwise, we label it as “procrastination” and feel guilty.
Why is it that we could spend time purposelessly when we were young? Because we were living in a kind of eternity. The idea of death was so remote that time felt infinite. It wasn’t time that we wasted but this sense of eternity. If we were born old and grew younger, we would have been able to appreciate it.
I knew some people who never spent time purposelessly. Their calendars were always full. They were so driven to succeed that they spent any time available to advance their careers and missed the only opportunity to experience what it’s like to live forever.
Once my kid is independent, perhaps I can get back to it.
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