How is it that you can be best friends with someone one day, and the next a virtual stranger? I seem to have a knack for that.
I have never been very good at juggling a lot of people. I have always been envious of those who are able to keep in regular contact with seemingly hundreds of friends for years and years on end. I can't comprehend how that is done but I have a lot of friends who manage it. I wish they'd give a class.
Jan is this great gal who liked me right away. And I liked her. Right away. She is FUN! She is hilarious. And she does everything well. I mean everything. Really well. She especially does friendship well. She welcomed me into her world and it was fabulous! I loved being Jan's friend. We talked most everyday. We worked out together. And we laughed together. A lot. So how is it that today I can't even recognize her phone number?
We didn't fight. We had no formal parting of the ways. And while I can't tell you when it happened, I can guarantee that it was I, not she, who dropped the ball. I know this because I have dropped the ball before. This realization has compelled me to examine what kind of friend I am and I have spent the better part of today thinking about it. How is it that I have lost touch with someone who has added so much camaraderie, kindness and love in my life. To say nothing of color.
I'm not interested in playing the blame game, but I will say that growing up, my parents did not have a lot of friends. Any really. At least none that they sustained. As an adult I learned that when we were little and my parents were really young, the couples on the street we lived on were into more, shall we say, intimate social games (I was shocked!), and my parents didn't want to play. But we moved and nothing really changed. My folks kept to themselves mostly. I did not grow up with neighbors having dinner (or even coffee) at my house. My parents never spent any time at all on the phone "catching up" with anyone - unless it was a parent or sibling. I have no fond memories of watching my mother get ready for a big party. They didn't "go out". I certainly never saw my parents ready the house for guests by planning menus, getting out anything "good", or feeling that festive gaiety that comes with the anticipation that "company" was coming over. I'm not saying that it never happened - just so sporadically that I have no recall of it. I didn't watch them entertain. I did not watch them "being friends". My parents had a routine. In fairness, there was not a lot of money in our house for dinner parties or going out. My parents may have decided that it was just easier to stick to themselves since they weren't able to participate in a lot of things the neighbors were doing. Generally, my mom and dad went to work, came home, ate dinner, talked to us, watched some TV and went to bed. The end. Weekends were much the same but instead of going to work there was grocery shopping, house cleaning, laundry and watching old movies on Sundays on Channel 36. As a result, while I did yearn for people and friends to fill our home - to give it balance - to lighten it up, for Pete's sake - I had no one to model for me how maintaining many people in your daily life was done. It is a skill, you know.
Today, I have many wonderful friends. I really do love them all. But I have not developed the skill to integrate them fully or indefinitely into my daily or weekly routine. And then it came to me. I think I kind of rotate my friends. Whoa! That sounds terribly unkind and dismissive. Did I just say that? Rotate? Like underwear? How hard can it be to keep in touch? What am I spending all my time doing? This is not a conscious effort, but when I think about it, I see a pattern. And if I was being rotated, I think my feelings would be hurt.
I do socialize to some extent every week but I fit it into the routine, rather than having a routine fit into something much more meaningful. Does this mean that the time that I have set aside for friends has had to fit somewhere between Reality TV and a Lean Cuisine? Have I substituted "The Real Housewives of New York" for real people?
Is it possible that I have more of a routine than a life? It seems that in dumping my purse, a phone number and a compact mirror fell out and I am forced to face the face I need to face.
I am grateful for all the friends I have that have accepted me in spite of my lack of priority. It seems I must find the little black book and make a lot of phone calls to a lot of people I love. I am not looking forward to calling Jan. That will be hard. Jan is very organized and I suspect she "dumps her purse" at least annually. If I fell out of her purse, she may very well have not put me back in.