First, from Robin McKinley’s website, a favorite in-joke of mine (in with who, you ask? Well, mostly myself thus far…):
Here are the Best Ways NOT To Receive An [Email or Hardcopy] Answer from me: …
9. Tell me that you know me from reading my books. (Or, for that matter, from reading my web site, which, while absolutely truthful, to the best of my ability, in everything it does say, tells monster, privacy-retaining whoppers by omission.) This includes any explanation of how we’re just alike and have twin souls.
I think I rather hold back at times on this, my blog. (Some would probably say, NOT ENOUGH.) There’s just a lot of things I don’t talk much about. It’s funny, because I love reading “creative non-fiction,” personal essay type stuff (as evidenced by my freaking blog ADDICTION – if you could only see my feed reader list), and yet my own blog doesn’t often delve that far into my own life. Is it a privacy thing? I used to think, oh it’s because it’s the Internet, just being careful, blah blah, but now I’m not so sure. So I’m going to break the tradition today and talk a little about some of that. We’ll see where it goes. Also, it’s very much about me, not about anyone else, though some of the musings were spurred by recently meeting Jessica. Just to be clear.
It’s funny meeting someone you “know” from online. (There should be a word, but really. Interfriend, efriend, I’m not sure I’m all about those. Somebody coin something! Webfriend? Clearly my son’s love of Spiderman is getting to be too much for me.) Another blog I read had an entry a little about it a couple days ago. I like to think that I’m pretty good at recognizing how people’s whole lives are NOT reflected online, that we only see bits and pieces. (Why? perhaps long practice; I’ve been reading blogs since they were online journals, back in my Diaryland days, my oh my, in 2000. Maybe it’s just consciousness, as a writer, of how much I leave out myself, of how much is impossible to include, even if you wanted to.)
But ya gotta have friends…
It’s always so nice to talk to someone who I feel like I can really connect with. I do have friends, and some of them very close ones, with whom I did not instantly hit it off, where the closeness grew more over time. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with that, maybe a good deal right with it; but there’s just nothing like having that zing of connection, where it’s easy to talk right off the bat.
Though, also, it’s so easy to neurotically second guess yourself — oh, maybe I just didn’t see how awkward it really was; oh maybe she thought this or that; maybe she or her family resented me monopolizing too much time — on and on, it never stops. If I let it go on. I try to just trust that first impression, the glow of happiness on the way home. I get so pathologically afraid that I’m not good with people (this in spite of having been told my whole life that I’m a good listener, told that people feel comfortable talking to me, etc), that I’m a bad friend, that I’m too needy or clingy. I don’t think I’m necessarily a one-friend-exclusive kind of person (though I do better in small groups or one on one at a time, for sure) — but I do have a tendency to be intense, perhaps. Want to talk a lot, hang out all day (though not every day; but still). I just don’t have that many friends (especially who live nearby) who get me, who I feel like I can talk with openly and not have them look at me like I’m a FREAK. The Internet is wonderful, yet cruel in a way — we “meet” all these awesome people, people we have things in common with, but we’re so FAR. Sometimes it feels like, what’s the use? That’s probably my own fault for not being a very good correspondant, too. (That’s been so my whole life — I blame it on being a military brat. Why bother writing people you’ll never see again? Then again, I do pretty poorly with family too, even though I will see them again, so maybe it’s something else. Like LAZINESS? Sheesh.) And also not looking around more locally. It’s all so much EFFORT now that we’re grown ups, out of school. No classes, no clubs to bring us together with people. And always that feeling that I need an excuse to talk to someone. What’s THAT about? Just wanting to isn’t enough of a reason?? Not a “legitimate” reason? Good grief.
And of course things ARE different once you’re older — and older is relative. I remember some of these questions coming up for me even when I was 5th or 6th grade; the feeling that you can’t just go up and join in, that you can’t just go knock on a door and say, Can you come out and play? And why not? Why does it have to be so COMPLICATED? It’s the overthinking that does me in, I know this, the wondering: does she really like me? And if so, why? (Why does there have to be a reason??) Am I just making a nuisance of myself? What do I have to offer here, that they would want to be my friend? (The answer to this is, I know, quit worrying about it, the nuisance is the angst, otherwise you’re just fine. Probably.)
And then the logistics are just more complicated when you’re an old married fogey, like I am now. Because now there’s the spouse and children, and they rightfully must come first, but we still need our other friendships. And it changes how friendships work, compared to the old days of singlehood, college, high school, whatever. No sleepovers. (Just the word brings back the rush of memories for me, of some of my friends in early high school. Good times, thoughtful times, with lots of lovely conversation.) Household duties to attend to (not that I hesitate to neglect them, goodness knows, but you can’t neglect them ALL the time), and if you’re over visiting someone while your kids play together, how to handle it — don’t want to cause too much disruption, too much neglect, so do you work together? I would say, ideally sure. I have no problem with talking while washing dishes or folding laundry or whatever, but that sort of thing kind of presupposes a level of comfort already. Not a “first playdate” kind of activity, normally. (And the word playdate, though I have been known to use it, rather irks me. When did it happen that playing together had to be so scheduled?)
Lemme ‘splain. No, there is too much…
Well, I have no big solutions, not even any neat or poetic summing up. I’m certainly open for insightful comments on the subject. (By the way, has anyone read this book?) I’m just at the end of my endurance for the moment, and done talking to the blank wall of the internet for now. I clearly need to get out more. Plus my boy is asleep, and the opportunity must be seized.