I'm a real cynic when I hear people talking about the Universe and "When you put stuff out into the Universe, things happen!" or "Such-and-such happened to you because the Universe was sending you a message (see ankle-gate 2012)." To which I reply, **koff,koff*bull-isht*koff,koff*.
Sometimes, though, things literally appear right before my eyes. Then I'm forced to admit, maybe I need to pick up what's being put down (see ankle-gate 2012).
The other day, I was sitting in the carpool pick up line and clicked onto Tumblr. The first thing in my newsfeed was this quote.
Those are some powerful words. Immediately, I reblogged it on tumblr. Then I emailed it to myself and put it up on insta.gram (curly_girlie78).
See, when it comes to me and friendships, I feel like this is the story of my life. I suck at making friends. Contrary to popular belief, I'm pretty shy. Shyness can be misconstrued as snottiness or uppityness. When that is the case, making friends is pretty difficult. Once people get to know me, they inevitably say, "You know, when we first met, I thought you were SO stuck-up!" I can't tell you the number of times I've been told that. I'm neither of those; I just don't like putting myself out there. I still feel like the braces wearing, coke-bottle glasses sporting, Superman "S" curl hair-do having tween-ager who's the first one to fall asleep at the sleepover. You know, I've got that I'm a kid at the grown-ups table thing going on.
Whatever the case is, as I've matured, I've tried to approach things differently. I was talking with a friend shortly after we moved back to RIC. She had said that it must be nice coming back to a place where I already had a network of friends. In truth, coming back really crystallized the old adage, "You can't go home again."
After a five year absence from the RVA scene, things had changed. We don't live in a vacuum and you can't preserve relationships in amber. The group of W&M grads that made RVA our home in the early 2000s had morphed from young, newlyweds into no/one/two or three+ child families. Some couples had divorced. Some had moved away. The dynamic that made me pine for relationships lost while we made a life in Norfolk was no more. A new dynamic was in place, and it was like starting over.
Case in point (and I'm leaving off names here for a reason): There was a woman with whom I was really looking forward to reconnect with once we got back to town. She and I had been new moms together, which is pretty significant. We went through early childhood milestones -- me with Mo and her with her little biscuit -- together. I leapfrogged over her by having not one, but two more kids. My triumphant return to RVA lead me to believe we would just pick up where we left off; my kids and her kid would be fast friends.
It didn't happen.
Suffice it to say, we got together once or twice and found that we just didn't have anything in common any more. That's not unusual, seeing as how people grow and change as just a normal part of life. I realized that I was extremely reluctant to tell her that I was expecting Vivi because I knew that it was going to be the last nail in the coffin. Sadly, I was right. I haven't heard from her aside from the obligatory Christmas card.
In hindsight, I wonder if maybe I dropped the ball by not inquiring as to what happened. Maybe she was having fertility issues and felt that I was flaunting my overachieving ovaries or something. Maybe she was having some kind of life situation that just made it difficult for us to be friends. I'll never know for sure, but I'd like to think I would have taken that type of admission from her with some grace instead of just being dropped off on the side of the road.
Believe me, that smarts.
Here's another doozy of a story. There's a woman I met shortly after we moved back, about two summers ago. She was a friend of a friend. She's the type of woman you see and think, "Wow, she is SO cool." She's the Carrie Bradshaw, the Leslie Knope, the Liz Lemon or the Olivia Pope type that would so perfectly compliment you. Not hanging out with her would be like asking Kim Kardashian for parenting advice.
Anyway, she and I caught up at few other places where we knew people in common. I suggested we grab coffee sometime, which we did. We had our kids have playdates together. We'd text and make plans to hang out, but then the plans were never executed. I didn't notice it at first, I mean who doesn't have a crap ton of things to do all the time? I'm bad about returning texts. I break plans sometimes. It happens. If she and I couldn't get together, then we'd plan for another time.
Then we were planning for another time. Which brings us to the last time. We planned to get together for coffee after doing our respective carpool runs one morning. Just as I am pulling up to our coffee spot (oh, who am I kidding, you know it's Starbucks), I get a text from her saying that she can't make it because Verizon was coming to her house that afternoon.
Afternoon. It's 8:20 on a Thursday morning, but then I got it. I was being dismissed. So, being at Starbucks, I got myself a latte. Then I sat and stewed.
Was it my breath? Was I a hanger-on? I kept thinking about what it was that I had done or not done. But in the end, I stopped trying to lay blame and decided that it was her loss. Maybe, the universe was trying to tell me that she wasn't the type of person I needed in my circle of trust.
After I'd had that epiphany, I fired off a "too bad, so sad" kind of text, purposefully omitting any "Oh, let's reschedule" type of talk. I sipped my latte and decided:
I'm not going to chase you.
That afternoon in carpool, the above quote pretty much leapt out at me, and I knew I'd done the right thing. Oh, and as a post-script to that story? This broad had the nerve to call me up later on the in the week to ask me if I could take a few pictures of her child for some look-book she wanted to submit photos for. . .as a favor!
Deep cleansing breath. . .deep cleansing breath . . .
Anyway, I have decided that this above quote is going to be my touchstone going forward. I can't change people. I can only work on myself and I need to remember that. I will be me. I will do my own thing. I will work hard. I will cultivate the relationships with the people who belong in my life, for they truly are the right people. Our friendships will endure.
Oh, and one last thing. . . I am going to make sure my girls read, repeat, and remember this, not just for their little girl-friends, but when the young men start to enter the picture. I'm just sayin'!