My friends have three Basset Hounds – that’s a whole lot of dog, regardless of their moderate size.
Jasper is the old man who barks at everything, always the grump.
Buford is the 2 year old puppy, all jumpy and excited and still crawling all over you like he’s a 2 WEEK old puppy.
And then there’s Libby, my favorite. Quiet, sweet, and scared to death of everything that moves, including a camera phone.
I took this picture from 20 feet away, my hand casually in the air shooting on zoom at random. Totally not making eye contact.
Today someone asked
how long we have been friends
and I tilted my head
my thinking pose
was it in fourth grade that we met?
was it in fifth that we became friends?
was it in sixth that we became best friends?
and then I was struggling to remember
what the hell was the name of
my sixth grade homeroom teacher?
and I realized that
the reason i couldn’t remember
was because that was twenty years ago
so we have been friends for over twenty years now
and you may argue that we were not friends
for twenty years, because there
were some years in there that we did not see each other
but when I try to remember why it was
that we had some distance
did we fight? did we have a falling out?
i just can’t remember
which must mean it doesn’t matter anyway
because we have been friends for twenty years
we can actually measure things by whole decades now
we are all old, and mothers, and mothers
what the hell.
we are mothers.
Over a month ago I wrote this post, and it started out like this:
I haven’t been writing here because I’m going through this thing where I want to say everything, and in the background where you can’t see, I’m writing everything down, but they are mostly ugly things that no one should ever have to see.
I am broken. I’m starting to think that I’ve been broken on the inside for a really long time, only now it’s starting to show. I can’t hide it anymore.
So basically, I stopped showing it. Or at least, I stopped showing the truth, although on a new website I made, you can find some truth through fiction.
I realize that when I wrote that I was going through an incredible amount of stress. Brian moved away, which was terrible, but besides that, I felt the relationships with two of my closest friends changing, and changing to something that I am still not sure will work out the way I need friendships to work out to be able to keep them. In all, I’ve been very alone lately, and not exactly alone because of it.
The truth is, I am just so fed up with the world right now. I’m fed up with the people in it, I’m fed up with allowing myself to continue to do things that don’t make me happy, and I suppose more than anything I’m fed up with trying to be what I think the world wants or needs me to be, when all I want to be is myself.. and isn’t that just the hardest thing in the world, anyway?
I find that I just keep saying to myself lately: “I’m too old old for this shit.”
Maybe I am. 30 hit me hard and is wearing on me in ways that I didn’t expect. Everyone tells me to get over it, don’t worry about it, age is just a number, blah blah blah.. And they are right and they aren’t. I suppose that aging is a different process for everyone, and everyone feels differently about it. For some, turning another year older is not a big deal, because really, the date of ones birth is just a day among other days in a week or month. It’s not technically life changing. But a birthday is also a reminder of the scope of things we have going on in this world. It’s something we check off on our calendar, just like all of the other days, except checking off my birthday is me checking off another one of MY YEARS alive. I’ve had thirty of them. If I am lucky, I will have sixty more of them. I would be happy with another thirty but I think I know already that I want there to be more than that. Birthdays, to me, are about more than celebration – they’re about facing my mortality, and it gets harder every damn year, because now I really see myself aging. I see the wrinkles in my forehead that don’t go away even when I stop smiling, the gray in my hair that won’t hold boxed dye anymore, the way I limp around for the first ten minutes every day because knees and back are so stiff in the mornings.
Anyway, I’m getting distracted by the OLD.
I had a revelation the other night, regarding all of the problems lately I’ve had with “friends” and friends of friends that bother me so. All I had to do was look backwards and things became more clear.
Twenty years have gone by since Steph and Beth and I became friends at Salem Elementary. There have been times when we’ve been mad at each other and fought and grown apart and haven’t spoken, but I know at 30 what I knew at 10 years old – that I love them and I will always hold them in my heart, and for some friendships things like time and distance never matter. Which led me to the conclusion that I have to let all of this shit go. I can’t go on caring whether people like me, why or why not. I can’t go on pretending to enjoy the company of people I dislike. I can’t measure my worth in whether or not I’m alone most nights of the week. I know what matters. I know who matters. That’s what matters most.
In twenty years, I might remember the names of the people who hurt or wronged me at 30, but I probably won’t remember the reasons why, and I certainly won’t remember all of the wasted moments I’ve been spending worrying about people who, in the end, don’t matter to me and my life.
So I’m making a commitment to myself: to be honest about how I feel. To be unapologetically me. To stop being polite because “it’s the right/nice thing to do.” To choose happiness whenever I can. To not wasting any more of my precious, precious time.
Last night was pretty great. I went downtown to see a rock show all on my own, which is not something that I usually do. I usually roll with my homies, the quiet one among a group of confident, artsy, funny friends. But I just haven’t been feeling as friendly as usual lately, if you couldn’t tell by some of my blog posts.
I find that when I do go out on my own, without anyone to tell me that they’d rather to this, or go there – I have a better time, and I find (maybe not better, but maybe) different people to hang out with that I normally would not. Working for Daryl’s campaign over the summer made me lots of new aquaintences that are quickly becoming new friends, and the time I spend with them is fun and free of drama and hangups and the weight of everything that has happened in the past – because we have no past. It’s so unbelievably refreshing to spend time with people who I don’t have grudges or baggage or bad thoughts between. With new friends, it’s hope and fun and positivity all the way, and lately I’ve been doing everything I can to seek out new experiences with new people.
See, I’ve never fancied myself a good friend. I can’t even hide that fact about me. When things get tough, I often get going, and it is nothing to be proud of, so at least, I feel, that if I own up to it and don’t try to hide it or deny it, I save at least a little bit of face. However – and here’s the catch – it’s not that I jump ship from friends when things get tough for THEM – I do it when it’s tough for me.
The truth of it is, I just have a very narrow personal definition of what a friend is, and it’s very self-centered and selfish:
Friend: (n) 1. Someone who you enjoy spending time with. 2. Someone who never makes you feel bad about yourself.
It’s simple, really. I’m ditching “friends” to make my life better and more enjoyable for me. In the last few years, there have been a lot of people in my life who I’ve spent time with and called friends, but I never felt that closeness, love, and yes, devotion, the way I feel those things for Alisha and Brian. Oftentimes I’ve sat in houses and at bars surrounded by “friends” wishing I were someplace else entirely. I haven’t enjoyed the time I spent with them. I am so terribly sick of feeling like time has been wasted with people I didn’t want to be spending it with.
And worse? I’ve had “friends” who have kept me up at night with memories of things they said about me or other people I care about – ugly, hateful things. I’ve had “friends” who can’t get themselves out of their own judgy pants, who seem to glow in the hot light of putting other people down. And really, that is what gets me the most. If you make a joke, even if you are “just kidding” and “don’t mean it” – but if you say things and they hurt, and you laugh and I balk? Are you a friend?
No. Not by my definition.
Alisha and I spend more time together than I’ve spent with any other person in my adult life, Brian is the only other one who comes close, and now Dan, Alisha’s husband, has become another person who I’ve grown close to and consider to be a real friend.
With Alisha, I can reach back into a decade of memories – ten years of memories with a person I have always been close to and cared for – and can I can count on one hand the times she has actually made me upset and feel bad. Once, I was very upset over something that was going on with Elise when she was a baby, and Alisha said something that seemed at the time to belittle my personal plight. I was mad, I was annoyed, but I forgave her. It was a misunderstanding. Then there was that time she started a book club and held the meetings on Mondays when she knew I couldn’t go because I had Elise, was raising her by myself and couldn’t leave my house at night. That annoyed the shit out of me, and the only reason I never made a big deal out of it is because the book club fizzled out after one book. Years later, after I brought it up, she apologized to me for that. She didn’t realize at the time, she says, that I wouldn’t be able to make it. I forgave her. Obviously. Then there was the time she had this crazy potentially catastrophic thing going on in her life and she waited nearly a week to tell me about it – and of course after I’d already found out most of the details. In a way, I was hurt that she didn’t come to me, but at the same time, I knew exactly why she didn’t – because she already knew what my reaction would be to her news and she knew exactly what I would have to say, and she was right.
There are no jokes at my expense. There are no behind the back complaints or shit-talking. There is no hurt, no shame, no resentment, and no anger between us, and that is why we’ve been friends for ten years.
One of these days I am going to have to publish a manifesto: I’m sorry, people I’ve called friends. I was just kidding. I’d rather not see you all anymore.
Until then, I guess, until I own up to this and have the talks I need to have with people to peacably and hopefully not painfully remove them from my life – I guess until then I’ll just remember the smiles and the laughter and the fun I have with people who don’t have that word “friend” attached to them. They are just beings flitting through my life, making me happy with their lives. It’s what I like right now.
Everyone tells me their secrets.
No less than three times today did I hear the words “Don’t tell anyone I told you this.”
I guess it comes from being the kind of person who doesn’t talk about herself often. I like to keep myself to myself around people I don’t know all that well or don’t have close relationships with. I mean, generally I like to keep things in my life drama-free and relaxed. Other people? Not so much.
What I keep finding, time and again, is that people are very much afraid of what others think of them, and that it is the fear of rejection from peers that keeps people from doing the things they want to do or being the people who they truly are.
That’s pretty sad, and I guess I’m just saying – I’m glad I’m not like that.
Big things are coming!
I will be posting this weeks Indie Ink entry on Thursday, and it’s going to be a good one!
Also, I have been working on a big project that I haven’t mentioned on the blog yet, and it’s getting to be the time when I will share it, and sharing is something I can’t wait to do.
Now, I am going to lay in bed, watch That 70’s Show, and eat Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. Nom.