Where we last left off, I was a social recluse with a disinclination toward friends and relationships in general.
Nothing is sadder than the girl who secretly longs for friends but cannot make any. But the girl without friends who never professed to want them in the first place? She bears a certain nobility in her solitude.
That is the girl I strove to be.
Lately, though, something has changed in this hard little heart of mine. I’ve come to a few pivotal realisations that have depressed me just enough to spark a hint of a desire for something resembling maybe possibly friendship in my life.
A few of those realisations are:
1. If I ever get pregnant, I don’t have enough friends—or even acquaintances—in this country to have a baby shower (leastwise, a baby shower that’s not fraught with social awkwardness). So sad for my poor little unborn fetuses who will have to wear the same seven outfits every day of their lives.
2. At certain times of the year when my in-laws are out of town for the winter and my husband is out of town for work, if I were to need a tow or a ride to the hospital or just a listening ear within the nearest thousand miles, I would have nobody to call. (This realisation inspired me to sign up for AAA and therapy—AAA for emergencies and therapy for someone to talk to. Apparently I am the kind of person who is willing to buy my friendships rather than work to build them organically.)
3. In the history of my life, there have been a few rare phases during which I force myself to be social. I always enter such occasions with dread in my heart, but nine times out of ten, I come away with nothing but positive experiences to look back on.
Take this summer, for example:
On my recent trip to Arizona, I made the effort to meet up with a couple blog readers (incidentally, readers who made the effort to meet up with me). Moments before each rendezvous, my palms were sweaty, my heart was racing, and my head was screaming at me to STOP THIS CRAZINESS, GO BACK HOME, PUT ON SWEATPANTS, AND WATCH SEASON ONE OF HOUSE.
But when I fought through the mental roadblocks, I found myself meeting—and having fantastic conversations—with some really wonderful people.
Take Alexa Mae, for example, who told me I could use her drama-filled life as a base for my first best-selling novel.
I expected our meeting at Golden Spoon to last for maybe thirty minutes, but it turned into two hours of some serious heart-to-heart girl talk, and I left feeling like I had become a better person just by having met such an inspiring soul. As I drove away, I couldn’t believe I’d almost chickened out two hours earlier.
Or take Liz (and Rory and Bruce and Dave), who drove FOUR HOURS and planned a family holiday around my passing through Idaho on my way back to Canada from Arizona.
(Side note: I told my sister, who was accompanying me back to Canada, that we were stopping for dinner with people who were driving four hours to meet me, and she said, “Four HOURS to meet YOU? Why would anybody do THAT?” I had to agree that it was crazy, but I was also extremely honoured. [Don’t worry, my sister loves me. She’s just cheap and would never drive four hours to meet me anywhere.])
I was totally flaky about the whole thing, promising to call and forgetting to call, blah blah blah, but they were so forgiving of my exhaustion and social terribleness. They told us all about how they met and how they got from there to here in their lives. Liz even told me how my posting had disappointed her lately, and even though she said it nicely, I was sufficiently shamed, and have kept that thought in my mind over the past month of struggling to get my blog back in order.
Again, the time flew, turning into a two-and-a-half hour dinner at Applebee’s. When the time had come for us to pay our cheques and hit the road again, my sister (who’d tagged along with me to Canada) kicked me under the table just in time for me to see that Liz’s husband had paid for our dinner, too—and we had even told the waitress before Liz and Dave got there that we wanted to split the bill! We protested heartily, but the damage was done, and all we could do was thank them for their graciousness and generosity.
As with my meeting with Alexa, I left feeling uplifted and inspired—a completely different person from the freaked out social-anxiety-ridden blogger from a few hours earlier.
These experiences serve as a testament to the fact that, when I put my mind to it (and when presented with kind and willing souls), I can make friends and it can be worthwhile. Relationships can be meaningful, and maybe even life-changing (and not only for the worse, as I previously maintained).
So I’ve decided to open my mind toward friendships, because I think it a worthwhile cause. Sure, I could trust people who will stab me in the back with hundreds of splintery toothpicks—in fact, I expect to, based on past experiences.
In fact, already I’ve gotten crapped on a few times, but I guess that’s just the risk you take when you try to soar with the Friendship Eagles. And I’m slowly convincing myself that the view from the clouds will be worth the dry cleaner’s bill it takes to get there.