Expansion: A Letter to You, the Readers

from Nick Suss

May 29, 2014, 11:08 p.m.

They say that the universe is constantly expanding. I'm not that much of a science person, so I don't necessarily know if that's true or even know if it matters if that's true. But the word expanding scares me in a way. It's a scary word, expansion is. As is often said, life is in the details. Expansion is the direct enemy of those details. By that standard, is expansion the direct enemy to life? Or are we supposed to believe the converse perspective: expansion in life is what makes life worth living. Expansion, or as I'm using it in this situation, change, is one of the most natural things in life. Perhaps it's the most natural. But it's scary. Don't pretend like you've never been afraid of change. I'll be as frank as possible here: change used to be my least favorite thing on Earth. I've gotten a little more used to it, but I need to learn to let more things around me change. I try to control too many things. But this isn't about me, per se. Well, it kind of is. Just keep reading.

Let's take this website as an example of what I mean when I say expansion. When we started this website, the idea was for a few friends to share some stories with each other. But then I bastardized the idea and started posting things about football and movies and television shows. So we decided to expand. And with the expansion, the quality of the content on this website has definitely increased. We hold ourselves to higher standards now, without a doubt. But, at least in my opinion, we’ve lost the personal nature of our writing. It went from a forum for inside jokes and shared experiences to a forum based around a high-degree of storytelling. And the new website is better, don’t get me wrong, but there are some parts the old way that I miss. Here’s an example:

I used to, rather frequently, reference something called the Last Tuesday Morning Rant. Though in retrospect that speech was the catalyst for StoriesHouse, it was never posted on the site. It is a little too personal for that. Rather, it will always live in my memories and the memories of those who I hope the speech influenced when I performed it aloud. (Also, it survives on my computer’s hard drive and my Google Drive account. But nonetheless, not on this website.) I used to reference it so often that I probably overused the reference. But I used to hearken back to that speech because it meant something to me and because I knew all of the readers of this website had been in attendance for the speech. Now if I reference it, the thesis of the message would ride straight over majority of this site’s reader’s heads.

So why am I bringing this up? Simple: I think I have to reference it one last time.

Expansion is everywhere. And while some people would rather focus on the expansion of the universe or the expansion of their waist line, I prefer to contemplate the expansion of the soul. With every new experience, we expand. As I said in what was then called my last Tuesday Morning Rant, these clichés we’re conditioned to accept just don’t make any sense. Why has the best yet to come? Better yet, why does there have to be a best? Why does another door open any time a door closes? Better yet, why do doors have to close in the first place? Why is it that we’re conditioned to understand that with every ending comes a new beginning? Why do things necessarily have to end? My idea on these clichés in that they train us to forget the past to block us from living in memory. But as humans, we naturally reminisce. Reminiscing doesn’t slow the process of expansion though. It may isolate some moments, preserving them in time like moths in amber, but unwittingly, reminiscing seems to foster expansion as well. I know I’m rambling, but I’m getting somewhere. Trust me, some of my greatest memories I’ve ever made with my friends have come from talking about things that have happened to us together. In bringing back those memories, we create new ones on top of old ones. It’s one of the best things that my friends and I do together. But there I go using that word again. “Best.” Best is a natural enemy of expansion.

Why am I saying any of this? I know you’re asking yourself that. What existential crisis has Nick gotten himself into this time? What is provoking this steady flow of nostalgia and theory? Here’s the thing: Every year of everyone’s youth comes at a crossroads. We as college students might like to think we’re mature beyond our age, but none of us have the acquired maturity to deal with life in its fullest yet. Case in point: the biggest expansion in my life right now is dealing with the idea of saying goodbye. In the past week, I’ve had to say goodbye to two of my best friends in the entire world and my little sister for extended periods of time. One friend was someone I was seeing for the first time in a year before he promptly had to leave again for another year. The other was heading off across the sea for a few months and even though I knew I’d see him again soon, I still was afraid to say goodbye. My sister is off on her first big adventure in life across the sea as well. Before the month is over, I’ll have to say goodbye to two more of my closest friends before they travel to different continents. But no part of me likes to deal with this change. Even though I know that these people are some of the most pivotal, most important people in my life who have affected me more than I can ever thank them for, the fear of distance always nags at me.

That is always the biggest problem I have with expansion: the naïve fear that separation of the body breeds separation of the soul. Aside from the fact that I’ve used an inordinate amount of colons so far in this story, that is the biggest concern on my mind in the present. It’s ludicrous to think that the people with which I have made long-lasting relationships can disappear from my life because of short periods of geographic isolation, but is it really that ludicrous? The only experience I have with separation from friends came from when I moved as a child. When I was 8 years old, I moved back to Atlanta from Charlotte, N.C. where I had spent four years of my life. I made some great friends and a group of us were as close as I thought children could be. But since I’ve moved just over three hours away, I’ve seen all of those people about two or three times since. I’m not even Facebook friends with any of them, and that’s why Facebook was invented. (I know that that isn’t why Facebook wasn’t invented. Shut up.) And in my immature brain that still fears isolation and expansion, that fact is easy to rationalize by extension. If a three-hour car ride effectively ended friendships so strong that I remember my friends standing at their front doors and crying as my family drove out of our neighborhood (True Story), then what’s stopping a series of multiple plane rides from doing the same?

But that’s just one of those things I have to deal with right now. That’s my expansion of the soul that I now realize I mentioned about four paragraphs ago and never explained. I’ve been reminiscing constantly, as I always do over the summers, hoping and praying that someday the halcyon days will return, letting me to silence my fears about the future and return to the days when I hadn’t a care in the world. Not that I have that many cares now, but by comparison you know what I mean. I’ve made a habit of overdramatizing problems in my life, both in person and on this website, but I’m here right now to tell you that this post wasn’t inspired by a problem. No, this post was inspired by the idea that things have to change. And the biggest problem I have with that right now is the fear that expansion inherently coincides with deletion. As untrue as that may be, I have to experience that untruth before I can believe it.

(Parenthetical Diversion: Move along if you want to get to the point! Of all the paragraphs I’ve ever written in my entire life, that previous paragraph I just wrote might be the most stereotypically “Nick” paragraph I’ve ever written. All of the little intricacies I write with were turned up to 11 right there. I started two sentences with conjunctions. I wrote a sentence totaling more than four lines of text on Microsoft Word. I used my most overused metaphor, the phrase “halcyon days.” I made fun of the rambling nature of this post. I started a sentence with a single-word refutation followed by a comma. I spoke directly at the reader. I used way-too fruitful language for the sake of a cheap rhyme. I randomly switched gears and tried really hard to save face with the next sentence. If I threw in a parallel string of three rhetorical questions, it could have been my opus. If ever you find yourself asking me advice on how to write, which you really shouldn’t as everyone should write differently, just read that last paragraph. That’s me in a nutshell. Diversion over.)

So here I am lobbing all of my insecurities at you one more time before the month of May comes to a close. I don’t know what’s making me need to vent. Maybe it’s the constant pressure of moving in to my third decade of life and needing to figure out who I’m going to be. Maybe it’s the aforementioned fear of losing the people who made me who I am. Maybe it’s the knowledge that my little sister just graduated high school this week and that she’s about to enter the same phase of life as me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m made jealous too easily and I need to write to rebuild my self-confidence. I don’t know what it is. All I know is that expansion made this necessary. My life is expanding every day, so I need this site to expand with it. So now you know a little more about me. So now we’re back to the real point of this site, aren’t we? Let’s get personal. Don’t think of this as a story; think of it as a letter. I wrote this for you. And expect more of this. Because this isn’t called AnalysisHouse. This isn’t called FictionHouse. This isn’t called ComedyHouse. I think you know where you are. (If you don’t, I have to thank a retweet for that. Thanks, retweet!) This is StoriesHouse. Let’s get back to the stories. Heck, in doing so, who knows? We might just expand again.


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