Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friendship and Loneliness

I spent a few hours "out" this morning with the baby:  my last Iowa farmers market, shopping for flip flops on sale, frozen yogurt (which the baby then vomited all over both of us) and the pet store to see kittens.  I was forcing myself out, as home is lonely and my brain runs a line of anxious  and difficult thoughts.  I really miss my 4 year old, and  I realize how grateful I am for my husband's time at home while he's gone.

Unfortunately, something I have realized in my late 30s is that friendship as an adult is built to be unsatisfying.  As an 8 year old, it's perfect.  Someone else washes your underwear while you spend all day bonding, playing imaginary games and feeling emotionally built up by your friends.  And then life happens, and you do your own laundry, and you form strong opinions, and then friendships are complex.  But inside, we all still want the friendship of an 8 year old.  I hope to live vicariously through my children's relationships.  But I have realized that I have experienced so much pain in the last few years from either my false expectations of friendships or my friends expectations of me.

When I left home, I went off to be single for a long haul.  I left home at 17 and got married at 34.  So that's 17 years of single.  In those 17 years I didn't have serious boyfriends,  not for more than like....2 months.  I had meaningful, awesome friendships.  And then I moved.  I cried and missed people, and then moved again.  I had other aspirations.  I learned to call people I barely knew and say "could I please cry in your kitchen" and generally they said yes.  They were still with their own childhood friends, so they rarely called me back. They didn't seem to need me the way I needed them.

Only now at 40, I realize they probably did need me.

One way (and there are many) in which I am an awful friend is that I rarely say "and how are you?"  OH how I have tried over the years to change this part of myself!  But in my family we just share, we just launch.  We were taught that what we felt and experienced was important, and should be shared (good job, mom) but I have learned over and over that people think if you don't ask, you don't care.  I don't think I'll ever be able to convince friends that I want nothing more than for them to share their pain, to be initiate, to let me know secrets.  Friendship was everything to me for 2/3 of my life, and someone trusting me with what hurts them is such an honor.  But I haven't done that well.  I still don't.  I know all it takes is an invitation, but I fail at that.

Moving around has taught me that you don't have to match my ideals to be my friend, but it helps.  I am opinionated, and I have to work my way through that stuff.  I realize that I do better in friendships with people who have strong other faiths than people who have none.  Interestingly, a devout Muslim lives in a way much more similar to mine than an atheist.  We have both known what it's like to have someone roll their eyes at your belief, at least.  And nothing is harder than a lack of respect on friendship.

Since getting married, this 8 year old part of me has all but died.  I rely on my husband for what I could not find.  I threw out a million requests for women to eat Thai food or go see shows with me or come to my house, and my phone did not ring often.  So much for my false sense of popularity.

I hope for something different, but I fear.  I do not know what waits for me next because I come home a different person, and who would know that?  I remember a few things that hurt in vacations, coming home after 3 years of college when I had first started to form real opinions and an identity and having a friend say "well you haven't changed at all" has all but destroyed a relationship with someone from my past.  Coming home for a "camping trip with the girls" where they endlessly mocked my single status, or a Christmas dinner where they called my faith offensive makes me think, "what am I returning to?" And two of the people I'd most like to see died in their 30s.  Life changes so unexpectedly.

The world expects romantic relationships.  They wait for you to partner up, have kids (unless you're gay, and then they shame you for that thought...) but friendship, that's another ball game.  Great work if you can get it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The peace of poverty

I am on a second day of prednisone, and I do think my mood is genuinely lifted.  It reminds me I probably should have taken antidepressants through the last 6 months.  I guess I want to communicate to people that anti depressants really do take the ugly edge off.  You can still be sad, frustrated, gloomy, but it seems to put a little barrier between you and the "edge".  I have often been to the edge in the last 6 months.  It isn't pretty.

Today I dodged a bullet with my car.  I completely ran it out of oil, forgetting car maintenance in these months of pinching pennies.  But when they looked at my semi-clunker, now 14 years old, they found a lot of needs....a lot of issues.  It is a car worth keeping, but in need of work.  This car is the worst financial decision I've. Ever made.  After 3 years, I still owe half the value of this car.  I want to sell it, at least pay off some of it, but then I also think maybe just keeping it and driving it to death might be a better financial choice.

None of it matters.  None of it.  Because at this point everything outside of bills and groceries goes on the credit card.  Everything.  And that alone makes me horrified and worried.  Did I say horrified? Ugh.  We've sold off collectibles, gifts from the wedding, all our old clothes, anything in the house that was never opened, or had a tag, it's all gone on Craigslist or EBay.  And now all we have is the promise that we WIlL make money some day, and can pay off this time.

So today when the mechanic recommended $2400 in repairs, and we widdled him down to $600 now, and a brake job coming, I smiled.  I laughed, I made jokes, I went shopping at Goodwill.  I was charming.  Because I find as you get closer to the bottom there's a little peace.  This could also be the result of prednisone, hard to say.

I just keep saying these things to myself...we are still alive, we still have each other.

We are not poor.  We are not refugee poor, or even Third world poor, or French Revolution poor.  We are just waiting to get back in the flow.  Just sitting on the banks of the river, unfortunately dipping our credit cards in every so often...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Bread of Anxious Toil

Every day I'm packing.  The house is unbearably quiet without my daughter and husband.  Being here, day and night, alone with a 14 month old baby, is so strange.  I don't want to be here.  I want to be with the person who calms my anxious heart.  It took a while for me to realize how well God matched type A, think out of the box and make it happen personality, and his soothing, live in the moment, let me find a way to make you smile personality.  We hardly knew it.

As I pack I find bizarre memories of a life in NYC that I remember loving.  I kept a journal then.  NYC, ironically, spanned 7 years of my life and covered my richest and poorest moments.  I had moments where I needed to beg someone for a dollar to get a train back from Brooklyn, and I had moments when I went out for expensive food and held a pretty decent savings account.

Regardless, I stumbled across something I wrote in a journal to myself, "stop eating the bread of anxious toil, Piper, just stop it."  What a weird statement, and yet today I am terrified.  Our house may not sell.  Our battle with the neighbor who finds nothing wrong in profiting off of our misfortune could end badly.  We could drive across the country, putting gas on credit cards, borrowing money from my dad, and spend the first week in Arizona eating ramen noodles and looking for temp jobs while I let my husband try to calm down my crazy head.

But I'm not sure any of that would be so bad, would it?  This bread tastes terrible.  I've eaten it before.  And each time I don't recognize it until I've downed half a loaf and my stomach is full of "what else could go wrong?"  I have someone who is the best partner I could imagine.  And for the first 33 years of my life I had nothing of that sort.  I am going to be with family, who love me, and who will make sure this isn't a disaster, if they can.  I will have to adjust to that.   Family likes to tell you what they think you should do, and I've been calling the shots (happily) for about 23 years.

When did I get so old?  I noticed the other day my neck isn't youthful anymore.  Man that sneaks up on you.  In those boxes are years of my husband and I pursuing things we love.  He had a funny little newspaper he made in college and handed out to people.  I have hundreds of recordings of myself, or programs, or things I loved doing and took for granted.  Thank you God, for showing me how much hubby and I have lived!  We are far from waiting for our lives to start.

When I was in Peru, it did not escape me that a majority of the people I met live every day like this.  They start each day with almost nothing, and they find people to love, and they manage to stretch what they have into something, and they have no idea what else could exist, or at least their idea is more fantasy than reality.

This anxious toil's all I felt today.  I cried a lot, and my contacts are all gross.  I made uncomfortable phone calls.  I begged God for help, but now I need to put down the bread and drink,maybe, a little living water.  You sip it, you realize what you have been blessed with, you feel the hurt of the world around you, and when you look down your cup is full again.

Tomorrow is a new day and boy am I thirsty.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


I have known you for longer than I remember, but I met you when I was 11.  You are the great love of my life, and nothing compares to you.  This world is your creation, your baby, and I can't imagine how you love and mourn for us.  You know where my head is and I am not proud of it.  I am full or anger and pride and self pity right now.  You know I doubt you every day lately, that I don't trust you at all, that I am living in fear.

Every prayer lately is me pleading.  I beg the job comes now, I beg for the house sale, I beg for the prayers of other people.  I beg, and I feel I am standing at the edge of a void that won't hear me.  But you said you'd hear me.  Does that mean you actually care what's happened to us?  I'm not sure I believe that this stuff concerns you anymore.

There are many with bigger needs than I.  I am not so Whiny as to think I've got the worst.  All I want to do is see you again, feel your peace again.  Nothing feels better than knowing you're in control.