Monday, July 16, 2012

Sleepless in Chicago

Know what makes me tired? Meeting people, making friends, putting the not-insignificant amount of effort and emotional investment it takes to incorporate them into your life, and after you've come to think of them as a friend, a real friend, after you've allowed yourself to trust it and feel invested and dependent on that relationship as a part of your emotional landscape, they pull the rug out, fold it, and take off. Not physically, of course, but you start to notice that they way that they apportion their time (which let's face it, nobody has in abundance) now does not include you as a priority. Which kind of sucks when you DO count them as a priority.

I've lived in Chicago for almost seven-and-a-half years now, and I have been picked up, played with, and put down again by more people than I can count.  The reasons vary, but as in Boston, it's usually because they started dating (and threw their friends away); or got married (and threw their single friends away); had kids (and made new friends with other parents); or already had a full complement of friends, so although you met and you hit it off and you started to hang out, they realized they were overextended with their current roster of friends/commitments, so last in, first out; or just decided that this other person they met was simply more interesting. Or that when I no longer lived next door/a few blocks away, it was too much effort. (THAT one always blows me away. I moved all of two miles away from people I knew when I lived in my old place, and they just disappeared.)

My best friend (OK, I have been best friends with this person for seventeen years. It has been almost ten years since we lived on the same continent, and we talk pretty much every day. Because we're friends, REAL FRIENDS, and THAT is what I'm talking about) blames social media and the apparent abundance of everything, customized and available at a click."Nobody has to stay put or make things work," he says, "because they think there's always something better further on." I wonder. All I know is that social media just lets me  watch what people do with the people with whom they do make an effort. With pictures.

Am I a perfect person? Nope. Am I high-energy and therefore a bit of work? Yep.  But guess what: everyone is work. Every. One. So after assuming that friendship involves compromise, I reach out, I bend. I see movies I might not simply because a friend wants to and I see it as friendship time. I find the  things we have in common that we can enjoy. I try to tolerate differences of opinion without being insulting. I allowed myself to be driven to Amish Country in Indiana on a Sunday, which is pretty much one of the the saddest, most boring things I've done, when what I'd originally tried to do was organize a hike in a beautiful state park.

I've tried. I've tried inviting people to see live bands. No. See plays. No. Hike. No. It's always, "I'm too tired. I have to clean my house. It's too hot/cold.  I made other plans. I don't like theater seats, although I inexplicably have no problem with movie theaters."

I'm tired of being the initiator.

C-- was pretty much my best friend here, and then just stopped calling me and began spending time with another woman who lives in my complex. So now they're friends ("Well, Joy," you say, "can't the three of you hang out?" Well yes, we could, except I'm never invited. I live across the courtyard from this woman. We can look out our windows and see one another. So it's not like the idea of including me must never cross their minds. )  J--- is an unhappy transplant who is game to do things, but whose job requires her to go to places like China for weeks or months at a time. Kevin was my dinner/ theater buddy, but he's been out a couple of times with a woman he's interested in, and it looks like she's his new theater buddy. Another Yoko Ono breaking up the band.

I hate being replaced. I really do. I'm fed up with being expected to be OK with being demoted, being relegated to being a backup plan. I don't forgive that. I used to, I used to be that needy that I did, but I don't forgive that any more. I remain cordial, but once I've been thrown away, I'm done. Call someone else when your husband doesn't want to go to the fiber fair, or nobody else will see that French flick with you. Learn to do things alone. I have. I'm finding the company better.


karen said...

Whoops sorry. Everything is getting left undone these days.

I read this, and it is funny but I can't help but thinking about how much I always enjoyed spending time doing stuff on my own.

One of the first times my husband saw me outside of the bar I worked in, I was on a fringe festival play binge. I believe he saw me striding from one play to another up main street, my hair streaming behind me in the speed of my purpose.

I think I was watching up to three plays a day during that festival (I was at theatre school and I actually had money, I felt it was my responsibility). It may have been one of the free-est times I have every experienced.

And then I met me match.

sigh. I guess one can't have everything, so I'm good with what I got. But still. Sometimes I'm triggered.

JC said...

It's not that I don't enjoy doing things on son my own, it'sfeeling that I'm always on the edge of other people's lives. Eh. More about this in a new post to come soon.