Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me!"

Think for a moment about how you came to be friends with your dearest friends.  I may be special in this way (I certainly feel special), but some of my friendships have lasted almost my entire life.  Anna and I don't talk as often as we used to, and we don't write long, loony letters to each other any more, but we ran together recently when I went back to her hometown for a race, and she's very dear to me.  I first laid eyes on her when I was 2 days old and she, 2 months.  During a Baby-Sitter Certification course held at our local library almost 25 years ago, I met Danielle and Lauren, and soon after, Stacey.  A few weeks ago, the 4 of us met for lunch.  They're the kind of friends that you would call for a status update if there was no facebook, and the kind that you never need to tag in those stupid "a true friend is someone who blah blah blah" facebook posts, because you all know that you're true friends already.
It's really saying something that the company was more of a treat than the cheesecake dipped in chocolate/crunchy peanut butter fondue.
Most (all, maybe?) of my other close friends, I met at work.  I love the fact that even though our jobs and lives have changed so much, we still have no shortage of things to talk about, and take every chance we have to get together.
Not the last time we got together, but probably the prettiest.
If someone had told me several years ago that the fellow servers, standing next to me cutting croissants at Hops (for what felt like eternity) would one day stand next to me at my wedding, I would have believed them, been happy about it, and tried to find out who the lucky groom was going to be.  But I would have been surprised, nonetheless.

Maybe it's because I've been blessed to be close to such wonderful people my whole life.  Maybe I'm just socially inept.  Maybe everyone else is the same way.  Whatever the reason, I find making new friends to be very awkward, in most situations.  If you're having an enjoyable conversation with someone, at what point do you stop talking and introduce yourself?  My name is fairly unusual, and is mispronounced almost every single time someone says it for the first time.  Once you introduce yourself, and correct the pronunciation of your name, do you then shake hands?  Go back to talking?  Ask for last names, correct spellings, phone numbers, and email addresses?  I met Kelly (Kelley?  Kelli?) at the Y when our sons were playing T-ball.  Our sons also attend the same school, in different Kindergarten classes, so we see each other most days when we drop off and pick up our boys.  She and I seem to have a lot in common; we talk often, and I think it's safe to say that we like each other.  But I don't even know her last name, and she probably doesn't remember my first name.  I haven't been able to work up the courage to ask her out, even though I think she would be fun at dinner or a movie.

It's easy to have conversations with people in the running group I joined last Spring.  For one thing, we all know that we have running, if nothing else, in common.  For another, it's usually hard to tell who it is that smells the worst after several miles, so nobody has to feel bad about being sweaty and stinky.  Also convenient is the fact that people's names and pictures are on the group's meetup site, so it's a lot harder to forget who you met.  The only awkward moments are those when we see each other showered and clean and dressed like regular people.  I think we've all gotten used to a pattern of double introductions- once in running shorts, and once again in jeans.

Literally, the only picture of myself in jeans that I could find.
Last week, my sister/running group officer informed me that an old "friend" of ours from high school had just joined the group, and had already paid her dues and met for a run.  My first thought was, "Well, I guess I'm done with the running group, then", followed by many creative imaginings of ways to avoid this person at every run and every race.
I'll just never make eye contact with her.  I'll tell her I don't remember her at all, and act really surprised when she knows my name.  I'll change my name! 
I tried explaining to Husband how disgusted and upset I was that she had joined the group, and couldn't find the right words.  "Well, see, I just don't like her because... You know, we used to be good friends, but then... I mean, yeah, I think everyone should be a runner, but not her."  

A few days later, I finally remembered why I instantly felt nauseated when I thought of her, and couldn't believe that I had ever forgotten.  During the first few years of high school, she and I, along with each of our older sisters, were almost inseparable.  Sleepovers, parties, shopping trips, hanging out and talking about boys- all of it, we did together.  Then, late in my junior year, she suddenly started avoiding me.  We had always sat together in Marine Biology, but then she moved her seat away from mine.  After a couple of weeks of this confusing behavior, I confronted her one day after school.  I asked if I had made her mad or done something to upset her, although I couldn't imagine what it would have been.  Her response, (with no attempt to break the news gently) "See, the thing is, I just don't like you anymore."  

I won't add a link to the Cee Lo song that starts running through my head when I think of her words that day, because my mom might read this and be very offended by the language.  But you all know what I'm talking about, right?
So, here we are, all grown up.  As surprised as I was that I hadn't remembered her hurtful words right away, I realized that I was also proud that I had forgotten the incident.  I've forgiven her, even though she never apologized.  I may not jump at the chance to interact with her in my daily life, and I don't think you'll ever find me slowing my pace to stay with her during a group run, but I also don't harbor any anger toward her.  I have so much happiness and joy in my life, holding a grudge could only cloud my inner sunshine.  I treasure the friends that I have, and I value their opinions so much, that I feel I can't also care whether or not high school douche likes me or not.  And you know, I think I might just ask Kelly out some time.  What's the worst she could say?

I'm sure you've heard before to forgive and forget, but I'm going to advise you a little differently.  Forget, and then forgive.  Because if you can forget something that wounded you, it means that you've already let go of the anger and resentment that would get in the way of your happiness.  Plus, forgetting is usually the hard part, and it's always better to get that out of the way as soon as possible.  

Would you rather go back to high school for a day, or run a marathon?


  1. Run a marathon:-)

    I bet it was more something about her (or a HS situation) then you, but it hurts nonetheless.

    I think meeting new friends as you get older is just harder; our tech filled society doesn't help (but does help w/internet friends:-) Ask her out! Just think if you actually had to meet a guy now-a-day's...the horror!

    You always write such elegant and thought provoking posts!

    Your comment re: my Marriage post about not putting your hubby down even in jest has stuck with me. A great tip btw!

    PS: I'm jealous that you have a running group & that you and your sister can hang out doing one of the coolest things ever! I've been trying to convert mine (won't stop), but in the meantime must find a running group/partner! ~The End

    1. It's true, what you say about it being hard to make new friends. It seems like if you don't have a whole lot in common, it's really hard to connect.

      Our running group is awesome- everyone should have one! It's really impressive to me that you were able to train for a marathon solo, and that you're still running now, even being pregnant and having to do it on the treadmill! That takes a lot of mental strength!

  2. I never knew the background of your relationship with the newest member of the running group. That is horrible, and I'm glad you were able to put it behind you. Since I consider myself your friend, as well as your brother-in-law, I'm not sure how or why someone would do something like that to you. The only explanation I can come up with is "She made a childish mistake.".

    I may be giving her too much credit, but if it wasn't for her:
    - I wouldn't have met her sister
    - I wouldn't have met your sister
    - I wouldn't have met you
    - You wouldn't have met your husband

    What a crazy world this is.

    (I hope I'm thinking of the right person. This could be awkward)

    1. You are thinking of the right person, and you're right- she was a child at the time, and we all make mistakes. I hadn't thought about that crazy series of events that led to my life being the way it is now! I guess maybe I should thank her when I see her?