I Don't Want to Fit In Anyway!

When I was in elementary school, friends were hard to find because I was a bit on the clumbsy side. It didn't help that I failed to practice the use of logic. Like the time I leaned forward to talk to somebody and rested my elbow on Dominique Door's pencil box. The cardboard box crushed beneath my third-grade elbow. In the sixth grade, I found the size of Candy Detman's hoop earrings to be remarkable. My mother never would have let me out of the house wearing those. "Look!", I exclaimed, "these things are the size of bracelets!" In hindsight, I probably should not have demonstrated my hypothesis. I think she was actually hurt; there was a little blood involved.
In middle school, I clamed up a little bit. I was overwhelmed by the intensity of the race to be popular. "Note to self: leather ballet-like slip on's with a large ugly bow are popular. Best if worn in gold lame or bright purple. Check. When did these become popular? We didn't wear these at River Bend Elementary!" My uncertainty about where I fit in was cleared up when a girl I hardly new but whose name I believe began with an "M" approached me in the social studies wing and said, "Hey girl, how come nobody likes you?" If I wasn't sure what people thought before, it was clear now. I think her name was Marriah. I guess Marriah didn't notice my new pink Sam and Libby's. Oh well.
In high school, things began to look up. I started making friends, though most of them went to a different high school so I only saw them on weekend nights or at church. By college my world had changed. I learned how to save a joke after it bombed and this became a mainstay in my little bag of tricks. People don't like people who tell dumb jokes. But people love people who can save a dumb joke, even if it requires a little self-deprecation to do so. No problem! I had been practicing self-deprecation for years - I had just never thought of making it funny. Now armed with a sense of humor and tougher skin, I began to branch out. I made friends everywhere I went. As it turned out, people did like me.
By the time I met Herb, I had a pattern established. I realized that making it to every party or get together did not fill the deep hole of loneliness inside. No more "three parties in one night" for this girl. Not worth it. I chose my friends carefully and only accepted plans I truly wanted to have. My friends were plentiful.
The catch: none of them knew each other. There was no home base. No core. Nobody to call and say "What are we doing?" Plans were made weeks in advance; scheduled neatly between work and yoga class. Coffee dates erased as easily as they were penciled in. Margaritas and guacamole became the glue that held friendships together. They were the motivation to make sure we got together at least once every three weeks where we sat knee to knee for two hours that were never long enough while we quickly recounted the vital stats to each other:
Her: "Work?" Me: "Good."
Me: "Boys?" Her: "Maybe. There is this one . . . but he never called."
Her: "Boys?" Me: "There is this one . . . okay, we have never actually talked."
Her: "Family?" Me: "Fine."
Me: "Roommates?" Her: "Haven't killed her." Me: "Good job. I feel like you are really growing!"


With at least 6 of these "intimate" girlfriendships in my back pocket at all times, paired with one or two male friends that made good stand in dates and inserted the appropriate, "You're a beautiful woman, and though WE never worked out, some guy is going to be so lucky to have you" comments in all the right places, I was astonished with how lonely I felt. A lone ranger. I rode down the river with plenty of people, but at the end of the day we went our own directions and I went home to my dinners for one. Yet, you can only imagine my defensiveness when one of the wiser, older men I worked with suggested, "You are lonely because you don't have a community." To which I replied, "WHAAAAAT! You have no idea what you are talking about. I have more friends than you would know what to do with! That is just ridiculous."

It turns out he was right. I hate being wrong. I didn't have community. But I married a man who did. Good I guess. I have learned to commit to a group of people. My friends all know each other. Words like consistancy fit here. But what do you do with your margarita girls? And what do you do with the five or six people that all know you AND each other? That is intimidating and annoying and powerless. How do you see the same person four or five times a week? How do you convince your husband it is important to hang out with your "once a month friends" because "yes we DO have a relationship even though we harldly ever talk or see each other" and "it has changed since you have been in the picture - you take up more of my time and that is why I don't see her anymore" and "it's not MY fault that I am capable of sustaining a friendship with one drink a month and you need to see yours everyday, I must be more evolved" . . .


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