In the first few months of living here, I complained a lot about how difficult it was to make friends. I felt like I lived on an island all alone, a suburban hell. I talked about it here and here. I went through a really hard, lonely time. Things have vastly improved for me since then, I'm glad to say. And that's great since we're going to be here an additional year! I've gotten to know a lot of good people through a Meetup group, bible study, and preschool, and the Y. In short, I am no longer complaining. Without ever making a single friend in this neighborhood, we are getting by just fine. I can't believe I'm saying this but I like it here, and have liked it for awhile now.
Then when Delaney started kindergarten, we started meeting families at the bus stop. Families similar to ours. Nice affable people with two or three kids similar in age to ours. Normal middle class people. Military families. One of the families even goes to our church, but we never knew because they go on Sunday morning and we go on Saturday evening. They live right down our street! We've waved to each other from time to time but never talked. Could it be possible that I might soon have a friend whose house I could walk to? That hasn't happened since Quantico. But every day twice a day we all see each other at the bus stop and chat. It could be the beginning of something beautiful, right?
There's just one catch. I can't seem to restrain myself from saying bizarre and stupid things every time I'm in their presence. As much as it pains me to do so, I will provide an example. On one bright and sunny afternoon at a little after 3, I met Jen and Jamie at the bus stop. The bus came very early, and I was in no hurry to rush home. The kids were playing happily in the grass while the grownups talked.
In no time at all, Delaney had soaked at her shoes and the bottoms of her pants in some water in a ditch at the edge of someone's yard. It was not a big deal because they were her old shoes that I'd sent her in for the farm field trip that day. She knew that I wouldn't care very much about her shoes -- or at least I'm hoping that's what went through her mind as she was jumping in a 6-inch deep puddle of water. But again, not a big deal. I just told her something like, "That's enough of that."
Jen and Jamie told their kids to step back from the ditch, and my memory is a little hazy as to exactly how it went, but I know I made the offhand comment of, "Yeah, you don't want to play in there. It's sewage, isn't it?" Sewage? I couldn't even believe it as I heard it coming out of my mouth. Did I really just suggest our kids were all playing around a puddle of poop water like we're in a third world country? And Delaney was just soaking her clothes in somebody's toilet water..? Wow. Jamie just said quickly, "No, it's a drainage pipe." I made some other stupid comment, and before long was on my way, asking myself as I have so many times before, 'Why?'
The answer may be that, as silly as it is, I'm intimidated by Jen and Jamie. By their friendship. It's obvious they've known each other for awhile, at least a year. I know it's not more than two because Jamie and her family got here around the same time we did. Their husbands know each other too. They have cookouts at each other's houses. They know each other's garage codes. I thought I was fine with just saying hi at the bus stop, but maybe I'm not. Maybe I want more. I'm needy. I want dinners and play dates. And like an adolescent with a crush, I'm not sure what to do about it so I just open my mouth and say things that baffle me.
Last Friday there was an incident I tried really hard to forget. I never even mentioned it to Tim, and it's the kind of thing I always mention. That's how hard I tried to block it out, but unfortunately it hasn't gone anywhere. The embarrassment isn't as fresh, but I still cringe to think of it. Jamie and I were waiting at the bus stop. Jen must have been picking Ava up that day. Annie was playing around the ditch because the kids are drawn to it like moths to a flame. Maybe she slipped and got her foot wet, I don't remember. But she startled herself in some way and made some kind of noise. I said, "Annie, it's OK, you're not in trouble." I was worried she was starting to cry. She turned around and looked at me with a smile. I was relieved. I told Jamie, "You never know with her. She's a little sensitive, a little quirky." I could have easily left it at that. But for some reason, I rolled my eyes and said, "I have no idea where she gets that from." Jamie chuckled and said, "Is that what Tim says about you?" I could have said yes and left it at that. But no, no I did not. For some unfathomable reason I said, "Yeah, him and everyone else who's ever known me."
Now why did I need to share something like that with someone who doesn't know me? She might have never found out. I've gotten a lot better over the years. Maturity and motherhood have helped polish me into someone most people are happy to get to know. But not her. She's been warned about what a weirdo I really am, and our relationship will never go beyond polite smiles and small talk.
I comforted the crying 12-year-old inside me by saying, 'It's OK. Thank goodness you didn't feel the need to share this strange revelation with everybody you met, and you still have friends. They like you, they really like you!'
In the words of Sebastian the Crab, I am "hopeless, completely hopeless."