June 2008 Archives

A few days ago my brother in law said that it recently occurred to him that he knows very little about me. Though this was not surprising to me, the fact that he noticed it and said something to me is. A while back I resigned to the likeliness that my new family and friends here would probably never get to know me as some others have. This is not to say that they are selfish or that I am withholding information, but rather that our circumstance in life prevents that kind of relationship from coming about right now. I'm not really sure how that sounds to an objective mind, I just know it's what I have thought and that resignation has helped me not be so hard on myself or those around me in the last few months.
Or so I thought.

There are times when I so strongly feel the deficit of familiarity in my surroundings that I want nothing more than to leave - or worse- to scream my frustrations at the top of my lungs and reveal to each and every family member and friend how tired I am of hoping that there are no terrible long term effects of living this way. 

Because I do believe it will pass, eventually. The way I see it, one day, we will move away to an area that feels more like home, a place we can relax and not worry so much about who we have recently offended regarding the latest holiday gathering. By then my children will be starting school and I will be able to work more, thus making friends who are interested in similar things and have time to socialize beyond our children's naps and tantrums. There will be less obligation and more choice. Less worry, I hope.

But the fact remains that we should be able to feel that way now. We shouldn't have to move away from those who clearly care about us. We, or I, should be able to be myself here, now. And that's the question. How did this happen?

I just finished reading Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, a novel that gets right into those details of knowing someone but not knowing them and how what has passed in a person's life makes all the difference - no matter how little we speak of it.

From page 67:
People like it when you tell them things, in suitable portions, in a modest, intimate tone, and they think they know you, but they do not, they know about you, for what they are let in on are facts, not feelings, not what your opinion is about anything at all, not how what has happened to you and how all the decisions you have made have turned you into who you are. What they do is they fill in with their own feelings and opinion sand assumptions, and they compose a new life which has precious little to do with yours and that lets you off the hook. ... You only have to be polite and smile and keep paranoid thoughts at bay, because they will talk about you no matter how much you squirm, it is inevitable, and you would do the same thing yourself.

I keep a lot to myself these days. I smile, I try to be polite. I carefully select my facts and place them in conversations as a small effort to have people know me. Though I feel I am being equal in my attempts to reach out, it's not much, not much effort at all. That works fine unless I disagree with what has been done or said around me. Then, those thoughts take up too much space; they are too heavy to carry around for very long. Clearly, this approach to my life is not working. Especially when, again, we know it shouldn't be this way.

But what else is there? I am not so ready to make myself vulnerable again. I am not willing to hope that talking more and letting more "truths" slip out will suddenly change how people here see me or their willingness to accept me as I am - different, though quite valid. I am very much outnumbered anyway. But perhaps, as MJ said this weekend, it will lift some of the heaviness I try to pretend I do not carry. Perhaps we should just try it and let the chips fall where they may. 

The only way to accomplish this would be for me to realize too, that I do not know these people. Family or not, friend or not - I only know about them. Few feelings are discussed, though facts are usually out there, in suitable portions. I have to get past all the current misinterpretations and inaccurately filled in conclusions that have been relayed to me. There will be more. I have to erase what I think I know about them and do my best to give a more accurate view of me. After all, that is the only responsibility I have. The rest cannot be helped.

Got Juice?

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This video was shared by my friend Shannon who somehow moved to NYC a couple months ago and is not yet broke.

If you're wondering where I've been, you need look no further than outside your window. The sun has finally arrived in the Garden State and so has the new babysitter. I can't help it. It's like every time I sit down to my computer it feels like I'm just wasting those precious sunlight hours away. Which I am.

That's not to say I don't enjoy this writing. I do. But if you were pregnant, your brain would be all static-y too and you would also have trouble forming complete sentences, let alone complete thoughts. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I"M SAYING? DON'T MAKE ME CRY, Dammit!

Aside from frolicking in the sun, we have also been trying to nail down other summer plans, part of which include our very first family trip back to my hometown. As of yesterday we finally booked the flights and now my neurotic imagination can take over handling all the if and or buts regarding the reality of returning to the scene of my youthful crimes after a three year absence. 

THREE years. I think. The last time I was in Oklahoma was June of 2005. I attended a family reunion. I was barely single, and, unknown to me, I was barely pregnant. This time I am quite the opposite. 

red barn.jpg
A few (several) years ago I attended my 1st high school reunion. I was one of the only women who did not have any children; what with the Midwest being the kind of place where everybody has the kids early and such. (We know it's true.) At that event several people remarked to me how lucky they thought I was to have been traveling and enjoying my freedom. I did feel lucky, yes. But I also felt that they were lucky too. With the exception of the expanding waistlines and growing debt, I thought that being a spouse and parent didn't seem that bad. I knew they probably enjoyed the soccer games and the annual holiday parties with people they have known forever. I was all too aware that the grass always smells sweeter from the other side of the fence. 

But I also know that enough distance, passed time and alcohol makes ordinarily pleasant people say the saddest things sometimes. Thoughts that normally are passing and dismissed as ridiculous fall right out of people's mouths when you haven't seen them in years, they won't be seeing you for another few years and they've been drinking. i consider myself sort of an expert at dealing with this by now, having spent most of my adult life relocating or traveling from place to place. 

I've heard it all. Everything from "I've always had a crush on you" to "I will never forgive you for leaving me here." The more awkward comments did happen at that last reunion, however. One old friend told me that she has done nothing with her life since we last saw each other and that I must hate her because she is so boring. Never mind that she had three lovely children and could probably still fit into her prom dress. And she was still married to the father of her children -a feat that at least half of the people in the state of Oklahoma could not accomplish. 

But this time.... this trip back "home" will be different. I'm the one who is married with my little girl in tow. And I am positive I cannot fit into my old prom dress in my very pregnant state. This will be a switch. I expect there will be those who will be happy to see me like this - feeling as though I will "finally see what it's like" to be them. As it is some sort of just punishment for all my years of travel trouble, music and art. Thankfully, this is not another high school reunion. But still - you know how it is when you go back to a place that was once your home base. Everything looks different, but feels the same.

But I'm different - at least I know I am. And it will be very interesting to have my two worlds collide. Again.