Walk With Me, My Friend
For as long as I can remember, I have been someone who gets attached – to odd things (as a small child, the washer and dryer, which were broken and needed to be taken away), to the familiarity of a place, to having a routine (which then just makes me fight change at times), and most strongly and frequently – people. I am the one that keeps in touch. I had pen pals as a child and young adult; I would wait weeks for a letter from somewhere in the world, and eagerly write back. I have letters and postcards that go back at least a couple decades. They are all the collateral of keeping in touch, making friends and even acquaintances, and then not wanting to give them up.
Some days I think I am close to understanding this part of myself. Maybe it’s that I value connection (which I do) and being with others connects me to ideas, laughter and experiences. But I think it’s that and something more, and this is the part that sometimes I’m not sure I quite understand: in many ways, I think all these connections help me understand and connect to myself. I adore the singular cultures between myself and another person – our private jokes, our memories, our way of talking about ideas – even the specific ideas that I don’t share with another, but perhaps something that comes up with only that friend or acquaintance. And so, like small pieces of myself, they are out there, in others. I may also be clinging to a version of myself, in some way. I am speculating here, it’s unclear to me. I am sure I am able to access all those pieces of me, but for some reason, there is a particular joy in having those become free through interacting with others.
I am in another city for business for most of the week, a city in which I have lived, and not too long ago. I have only been back a few times since leaving for Toronto, and I haven’t quite figured out how to see all the people I left behind. I did it last September with remarkable success and I’m addicted to how that felt, to have it all organized and under control. Maximum efficiency and maximum catching up with friends. My most recent past trip and this one have been more difficult as there are competing interests – in this case, work. Even so I am booking in friends in every nook of time I can. I know that I’m still missing many though, and I feel I am betraying them (or myself) in some small way as they don’t even know I’m here. I know there is a way to solving this, and I will figure out a better way as time goes on. Ultimately though, the first solver of this issue will be saying no. Saying no to people. Not so much to their face, but through letting time go by and not reaching out when I’m in the city. To whittling down the list of friends. I will have to, by necessity, prioritize who I see and when. Ideally, I will have two trips a year. In this way, I might see each or most, at least once a year. This makes sense to me, but I also know that some will just fall away. We will have Facebook, of course, but not much beyond. I am only one woman after all. I can only do so much. There are finite financial, time and money resources to expend on keeping in touch. And yet it pains me to let them go.
It’s a necessary no, and if I’m honest, it means I get to keep the very best people in my life. Saying no to some makes time for those for whom I say yes. It means more quality and less quantity. It will be difficult at times, and it’s sad for me too. But I know it’s a critical part of the solution – to keeping in touch and not keeping in touch, and the joys that can come from both.
This really speaks to me. I love going “home” to Invermere, where I used to live, love it. It’s not just a secret hide-out; it’s the place where I learned who I am, and yes, small pieces of me live inside my people there. They know me as no one anywhere else does. They know me as I know me. When I go there, I have access to that. When I lived there, I thought it was the place that let me get to know myself, and in parts that is absolutely true, but those parts are IN me, and totally transferable. I discovered that as I moved from place to place. Some of the most obvious parts of myself, however, they live in that part of me that is drawn out to meet those really special people. When this happens, I instantly feel myself say “oh there you are!” and here I am.
When I leave Invermere, and those special people – my people – some of those beautiful parts recede so far into myself that I can’t see them any more. I can’t feel them, and they can’t be roused.
Over the years, the list of people I visit has become shorter and shorter. It took me a long time to accept that, and there are some that I still don’t accept. Last time I went though, I was really worried about my Dad and spending time with him was my first priority. I had a very short list of people that I contacted, and honestly that list was cultivated from the interactions from the previous visit. Anyone else was a bonus.
It was probably one of the most enjoyable and connected visits I have ever had there, maybe even more than when I lived there. The coffees, the beers, and the skis were so relaxed and having the time with those few chosen people – esp after several itchy visits learning who those folks were exactly – who choose me too felt so incredible.
The coolest part – ha esp because of this topic… on my way out of town, I stopped in at a restaurant to get a thank you gift certificate for one of those amazing friends. A woman that I have known almost the entire time I lived there is a server there. When she saw me she just lit up and ran over and hugged me. We’ve been in the same circle for years, but had never really connected, not really. I always found her really interesting – plus she was a good friend’s wife so I always wanted to be friends with her too, but we just never clicked. Right there as we hugged each other, not for the first time, we clicked, for the very first time.
I wonder if it was because she and I had both come to the place you are coming to now in your life. You are saying a few NOs, so that you are open to a deeper yes with those really beautiful and special people who love you back, just because. I know that is true for me. I know that when I saw my friend that afternoon, I saw her for maybe the first time ever, for real, because I was totally open. I was not partially closed off by the discomfort of the itchy relationships.
Have an amazing time. Wishing you a fabulous week of Pilot Butt! Baahahahaha! Love you. xo