Some things in life repeatedly surprise me. This also surprises me. One would think that the surprise that I get surprised would wear off, but it hasn’t.
I think about my friends a lot. I plan to go see them. I save conversational nuggets. I bring gifts from time to time. I go to them, like thirst seeks water.
Very few friends come to see me. I realize retrospectively that I have become accustomed to this over time. I used to pay more to live in a place I could entertain in. I had extra chairs, place-settings, and cocktail glasses. Like a fine arts degree from a small college, they sat as un-used reminders of an unrealized dream until I gradually discarded them over time for the extra room.
Now I have one chair, one plate, a few glasses, and a few pieces of mis-matched flatware. I have about a dozen coffee mugs because I once collected them, but mostly I have enough eating/sitting/sleeping things for myself, alone.
I comforted myself with the idea that this imbalance between visiting and being visited was a matter of expeditious convenience, that is, because I am single and unmarried I am much more mobile. It’s much easier for me to get to my friends than for them to get to me.
Right. As if “easy wins.” When did “easy” become the most important thing in friendships? Why is “easy” even a particularly coveted value in this situation? No one wants things to be hard, but traveling to see my friends wasn’t something I did because it was easy. I did it because I thought it was my contribution to something we mutually valued.
Being the one to go to my friends may be something I quit because it is too hard. The difficulty of travel is not the biggest problem, the difficulty of being on the wrong side of this imbalance on a consistent basis bothers me much more. It is hard to adjust my schedule to fit with others. I wait, I defer, I put things off, I exercise patience. Too often I’m the only one.
Honestly, my patience muscle is strong enough; it doesn’t need a lot of exercise. I can be very patient, but it is not always right for me to be patient. Sometimes I forgive too much, am “patient” too often, too frequently accepting the priorities of others over mine. This is a defense against the uncomfortable feeling of not being wanted on my terms. This isn’t really forgiveness, it’s a kind of mental cocktail, something to take the edge off.
Inevitably things hit the fan and the people around me understandably conclude that I am volatile and dramatic with complicated and covert standards for other’s behavior. The time and energy I spent managing my un-met wants and hoping for a better outcome that precedes an eruption is something I keep well-hidden.
This strategy and collection of habits doesn’t work for me. I don’t want to go to extremes, but things are going to change.