Adulthood 101: The albatross of time and money.

I was rereading some of my older blog comments today.  Sabra commented on a post saying that we should make good on our old plans to go to Ireland together sometime.  I enthusiastically answered “I’d just need six months’ notice to save up the money. It’s kind of cool to be at that point in my life where I could legitimately be like, ‘Ireland? Sure!'”

I truly don’t have any idea what point in my life I was talking about.  Retirement maybe?

Time and money seem to be the two ever-scarce commodities.  And most things seem to cost both.  Time spent the way we wish costs money, and the price of money, strange as it sounds, is our time.  I dearly wish that I could get along without money, because then I could spend time doing the things I actually care about.  But money is, as we have said, tied to time.  And society is tied to money.  And I, in turn, am fairly tied to this society.

So this is the albatross around my neck.

“I never thought money would be so important.  I never wanted it to be.”  I wrote that in my journal not too long ago.  Then just the other day I got into a conversation along these same lines with a customer while I was serving samples of gazpacho at work (spending time to make money).  I told him my conclusion about time and money being the ever-scarce commodities.  “Yes,” he agreed, “You’re right, but that doesn’t matter.  You have to live anyway.”

“I know, but the older I get, the more I worry that I’ll always be lacking the time or the money to do the things I’ve always wanted to.”

We chatted some more, and before he left, he offered me a piece of advice, saying “Let me tell you something.  Make the time, and spend the money.  Or else you’ll never do anything at all.”

-ODP

 

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Taking the scenic route.

Well, it looks as if I’ll be going back to Ball State in a few weeks.  I feel a little sheepish about it, to be honest.  I spent my first two years of college there, living in my beloved Elliott Hall.  Then last Spring I had a crummy semester and I was worried about finances, so I decided to move home to Indy and go to IUPUI with my then-boyfriend.

It was a rash decision, at best.  I see this now.  Hindsight, as they say…

Well, my then-boyfriend very quickly became my now-ex-boyfriend, but even so, I was determined to make good on my decision to complete my degree at IUPUI.  So I spent a year there, miserable for the first couple of months, and then mostly content for the rest.  Some of my readers may even remember how IUPUI came to feel like home to me, even though I never stopped missing Ball State.

Then I found out last week that if I want to graduate sometime in the next two years, it’ll have to be from Ball State.  I felt a little bit betrayed by IUPUI, and a lot relieved that Ball State would welcome me back with open arms.  And as I mentioned before, I feel a little bit sheepish about telling people that I’m going straight back to the very place I ran away from last Spring.

I should be used to it by now, I suppose.  It seems to be a pattern in my life.

When I was 19, I packed up my bags and moved to South Dakota for the Summer.  I had a job there in the gift shop at Mount Rushmore.  I was convinced it would be great to finally get out of Indiana on my own.  It felt like running away from home, in a good way.  But without my friends and family, I was miserable.   I realized that I had run away from home, but in a bad way.  So I quit my job at the gift shop and went home early.  I’ve been in love with Indiana ever since.

There are plenty of other stories I could tell of Leah making a rash decision to run away from something, and then coming to her senses and running right back like the Prodigal Son.  I don’t know why I do it.  Maybe one of these days I’ll learn to be a little less rash, a little more steadfast.  Maybe I’ve learned all my lessons, and going back to Ball State is the last time I’ll run home hoping to still be welcome.  I doubt it though.

With all of the mistakes I make, I wonder how it is that I have not completely messed up my life by now.  It’s nothing short of a miracle, if you ask me.  In fact, I have gained so much from so many of my mistakes that it doesn’t seem fitting to call them mistakes, though I do still wish I would stop making them.

I’m going to be a Senior in college this year.  And then after that, I’m going to be a Senior again.  And then after that, with any luck I’m going to graduate.  People ask me all the time if this is my last year of school, and then they act all surprised when they find out I’m not on my final lap yet.  So I’ve gotten into the habit of telling them that I seem to be taking the scenic route through college.  And I think that goes for everything else I do too.

For better or worse, I seem to be taking the scenic route through life.

-ODP

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Listening for a symphony.

I just climbed into bed, way too late, I realize.  Dressed in my U2 T-shirt and Curious George boxer shorts, I couldn’t be much more comfortable than I am right now.  My body melts into the sheets.  I should sleep, but I’m enthralled with my window.  At 1:30 in the morning I can’t see anything outside, but even during the day, the view would only offer the backsides of several nondescript two-story houses.  Anyway, it’s not the sight that entices me.  It’s the sounds.

The softest mist imaginable is falling outside my open window.  Even with all the miserable rain we’ve endured ever since the ice melted this Winter, I can’t resent this gentle shower.  It sounds so fragile I’m afraid a whisper might shatter it.  If I listen lovingly, I can hear underneath the rain the sounds of air conditioners humming, a dog barking in the distance, and a bullfrog croaking.  It’s a paradise of nature in the midst suburbia, if only I can close my eyes or be blindfolded by a moonless night.

It’s a symphony.

I wonder how many windows are open in my subdivision tonight.  Few, I’d wager.  It’s a waste of money when the A.C.’s running, and the windowsill might get wet.  But what a small price that seems in exchange for this concerto!  It makes me wonder how many such symphonies I miss simply because I’m not listening.  Perhaps much of our happiness in this life depends upon our willingness to listen for it.

I’ll be sleeping with my windows open more often.

-ODP

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Pinching myself.

Summer’s grand.

It’s taken me awhile to believe that it’s really here, but I think I’ve finally come to terms with it.  Staying in bed until ten this morning helped a lot.

The month of April was a whirlwind of classes, work, teaching, exams, and the dread that always accompanies the end of a semester because I tend to make really mediocre grades and feel awful about it.  But I knew that my finals would all be over on May 6th and I’d be leaving for Haiti on the 10th.  So for all of April and the beginning of May, I stressed and fretted and skipped sleep and didn’t blog and ate lots of unhealthy food and comforted myself with the thought, “If I can just make it to Haiti—if I can just get on the airplane and watch the door shut behind me, I’ll know I’ve survived this semester.”

Well I made it to Haiti and back again.  I got on seven airplanes and watched seven doors shut behind me.  So I must have survived.  I don’t even feel that post-school-year dread, because for the first time since middle school (pathetic, I know), I made all A’s and B’s this semester.

I keep having mini panic attacks and then realizing that finals are over.  It blows my mind to think that I’m not slacking; I just really don’t have any papers to write.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to just receive a good thing.  Psychology buffs, go ahead and have a field day with that.  You know you’re going to.  But I doubt I’m the only one who pinches themselves when something good happens.

Granted, I still have a wedding to be in less than three weeks from now and a bachelorette party to make happen between now and then.  I haven’t even started the blanket I’m crocheting for my cousin’s baby boy who will be arriving in less than a month.  I opened up my availability at work to 40 hours a week.  There are letters that need writing so I can raise money for a new roof on one of the schools I visited in Haiti.  And as thrilled as I am about my grades this past semester, I can’t continue the trend if I don’t get around to signing up for Fall classes.  So it’s not as if I’m completely carefree until August.  There are still demands for my time.

But I slept until ten this morning.  I have a tan.  I’m wearing shorts.  My bedroom window’s open and I can hear the purr of a lawnmower drifting in on the breeze.  I think my arms are bruised enough.  No more pinching myself.  It must be Summer.

-ODP

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Sometimes Winter leads.

Disclaimer 1: First of all, I must forewarn my beloved readers that I tend to personify the seasons (among other things).  Spring is always a she to me.  To the surprise of many, I usually think of Summer as a he. Autumn is another she in my thoughts, and Winter is, to me, very definitively a he.  But Winter and Spring are the really important characters in this post.

Disclaimer 2: Second of all, I would like to assure my readers that it is not by accident that I throw uppercase letters in at the beginning of my seasons.  I have been obstinately opposing (my mother is shocked that I would ever obstinately oppose anybody) my English teachers for years by insisting on capitalizing Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.  Why should the glorious seasons, conceived in the mind of God, not receive the same small honor granted to the twelve months designated by human convention?

Now that I have scared half of my readers away with my debatably extreme introduction, we may proceed calmly.  I trust that the half of you that remains will not be the least bit surprised by the crazy thinking that is to follow.  Then again, if you’ve ever visited One Dead Poet before, you’re probably already accustomed to my crazy thinking.  Thanks for hanging in there with me, my equally-crazy readers.

Anyway.

Sometime in late March, I always begin to get the idea that Spring is ridiculously gutsy. Because as we have recently seen, Winter here in the Midwest never bows out gracefully. In fact, I don’t think there was ever a sorer loser than Winter.  And he loses every year. You’d think he’d eventually get the idea and just give up on March 20th or 21st, when the Vernal Equinox marks the overthrow of the old regime and the coronation of the new Queen.  But he never does.  Every time I think he’s out cold (no pun intended) he gets back up for another round.

Just a couple of weeks ago, everyone was cheered by daytime highs rising steadily through the 50s and 60s and gloriously into the 70s.  Green things were poking bravely up out of the ground.  And my favorite of all, the trees were beginning to flower.  I love this time of year when treetops become beautiful clouds of white pear, pink tulip, and purple redbud.  On campus, there’s a hilly little lawn that’s almost always empty because it’s no good for playing frisbee.  There are too many trees.  Not big, foresty trees, but not scrawny little suburban subdivision sidewalk trees either.  These are half a dozen beautifully twisted old magnolia trees.  Their pink and white blooms are some of the most stunning I’ve seen.  Two weeks ago they were all half-open cups catching dew in the mornings to vanish by noon on their faces upturned towards the sun.  They remind me of lotus flowers somehow.

I left the house when it was still dark on March 30th.  Of course it was cool, so I put on a sweatshirt, but all morning the temperature did nothing but fall.  By 1oam, fine flurries of snow were falling.  At noon, big, fat December flakes were tumbling from the sky and collecting an inch thick on everything, including the front of my sweatshirt as I walked across campus.  But what I saw when I reached the magnolia lawn took my breath away.

Rather than presenting dew up to the sun, every last one of my lovely lotus flowers was filling with fluffy snow under a gray sky.  The soft pink was muted by all the white, which made the twisted trunks appear all the blacker and more ancient.

It almost worried me at first.  I wondered if my flowers could withstand such a Wintery onslaught, or if they would all wilt from the cold.  But somehow the trees didn’t seem to mind.  I don’t know what they would have done if they had minded the snow.  They are trees after all, but I’ve already told you that I tend to personify inanimate things.  And they just almost seemed to be liking the snow.  That made me wonder if the transition from Winter to Spring isn’t a battle at all.  Maybe it’s more like a dance.  Maybe the beauty of March is that sometimes Spring leads and sometimes Spring follows.

An hour later, the sun was shining.  You would have never guessed that at lunchtime, a girl in a snow-covered sweatshirt had stopped to admire a scene from a dream: an ancient arboretum of twisted magnolia trees, blooming brilliantly with Spring blossoms and covered magnificently with Winter snow.

And Spring led.

-ODP

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What we could have been.

Papaw and me

Papaw and me

This post is dedicated to anyone who’s ever missed their calling.

Earlier today I was chatting with my dad, and I casually mentioned that I always wonder if I’d have been successful doing something to pursue my writing professionally, like journalism.  “Oh, without a doubt.” he said, “To be honest, I kind of think you’re missing your calling, Lee-Lee.”

Granted, my dad has this weird quirk where he can’t think that anything is good without thinking that it’s the best, and he can’t like anything without it being his favorite of all time.  I can’t even tell you how many times he’s called me on his way home from the theatre to tell me, “This is definitely the best movie I’ve seen in a long time.”  So while I always appreciate my dear ol’ Dad’s opinion, I also know I have to take it with a grain of salt.

So I’m not abandoning my college plans to start a novel or anything.

But he did get me started thinking about all of this “missed calling” jazz.  Man, if I already missed my calling before I’m even old enough to rent a car, it must be really easy to do.

I bet a lot of people have missed their calling.

Like my Papaw.  Just a month or so ago, he told me he wished he’d have gone to college and been a DNR or gotten some sort of job with the Park Service.  Or he could have been an engineer.  He has a brilliant mechanical mind.  But jobs in the South were hard to come by, so he moved North with his young bride and worked in a factory.

Or my brother.  He could have been an astronaut.  But his eyesight stinks and he’s never been all that good at math.  So he teaches Social Studies to some of the roughest middle-school kids in Indianapolis.

It seems like such a shame.  At least, it seemed like a shame at first.  Now I’m not so sure.  I’m pretty sure my Papaw and brother are both fairly happy and content people.  And maybe, just maybe, people who have missed their calling find other callings and pave the way for other peoples’ callings.

Like my Papaw.  He could have been a park ranger.  But he wasn’t, and now both of his grandsons are Eagle Scouts and one has thru-hiked all 2,178 miles of the Appalachian Trail.  And all of his grandchildren know how to sharpen their own pocket knives.  Papaw’s not an engineer either, but his son became a mechanical engineer, and two of his grandchildren became an electrical engineer and a biomedical engineer.  The biomedical engineer married a mechanical engineer.

Or my brother.  He’s no astronaut today.  He’s a Social Studies teacher.  But sometimes I get a call from him late at night, even though we don’t live in the same house anymore, just to say, “You’ve got to go outside and look up!  The moon is awesome tonight!”  And on clear nights, he puts our little sister on his shoulders and takes her out to look at the stars.  With the patience of Job, he points out each little pinprick of light, naming the names, connecting the dots, telling the stories.  Arcturus.  Vega.  Deneb.  Altair.  Sirius the Dog.  Orion the Hunter. To this day, I can’t look up at Orion without thinking of my big brother, revealing the great Hunter to me when I was our sister’s age.

Maybe he hasn’t missed his calling after all.

And maybe there’s hope for the rest of us.

-ODP

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California’s calling, but I hate voicemail.

I keep getting a call from some California number I don’t recognize.  It used to come every day at like two in the afternoon, when I’m either in class or teaching, so I couldn’t pick up.  And since they never left a message, I haven’t really worried about it.  I’ve just assumed it’s a telemarketer or something, perhaps like the Colorado call I always get in Spanish about my car insurance.  But recently California has been calling at odd times, and more frequently, even on the weekends.

So what do I do?  I don’t pick up, obviously.  It’s a matter of stubbornness now.  I’ve never answered this call before, so why would I answer it now?  Or maybe it’s a matter of fear.  Whenever I get a mysterious phone call or an important-looking letter in the mail, I get a little bit terrified.  I’m convinced the law will eventually catch up with me for my rampant history of excessively overdue library books.

But as far as I can tell, I’m all paid up on library fines, so curiosity is beginning to get the best of me regarding this mysterious caller.  Maybe the CEO of my California-based grocery store has gotten wind of what a stellar employee I am and what a killer job I do at stocking our greeting cards.  Maybe he’s getting so antsy to give me a massive pay raise that he’s begun calling me every day, even on Saturdays.

But I’m still kind of scared that I somehow have an accidentally-stolen book on my shelf somewhere from some California library I’ve never visited.  So when California called today, I let it ring.  Someday, if it’s really important, they’ll leave a message.

Today they did.

Gulp.

So I gathered my wits about me and I called my voicemail, cheerfully narrated by Annoying Lady.

You have.  Nine.  New.  Messages.  First message.  From.  Phone number…

Nine?!  Seriously??  Good grief, I hate voicemail.  I never check it.  I just call people back (usually).  And once I call them back, it’s not important to listen to the message they left me, so they tend to kind of pile up.  Next year my New Year’s resolution is going to be to listen to every voicemail message as soon as I receive it and not ever let more than three of them accumulate at a time.  One time I called my voicemail and Annoying Lady told me that I had Seventeen.  New.  Messages.  First message.  From.  Phone number… I hung up.  And I shuddered in horror.  Who could possibly listen to seventeen new voicemail messages?  Certainly not I.  I listened to three of them each day until I’d conquered them all.  Take that, foul telephonic scum.

Anyway, Annoying Lady announced nine new messages when I called this afternoon.  Just eight messages standing between me and solving the mystery of the California caller once-and-for-all.  Somehow I made it through the eight.  I’m sure I only survived by deleting most of them as soon as Annoying Lady assured me they were surely too old to be relevant anymore.  And then I came to it.  To the mysterious California caller.

Next message.  From.  Phone number.  Three-two-three.  Three-three-zero.  One-four-two-two-nine.  Received at.  One fifty-eight.  PM.

“…………………..”

To erase.  Press seven.  To return this call.  Press eight.  To save.  Press Nine.

A blank message.  I dialed seven and hung up.  So I still loathe voicemail, and I still don’t know who is the mysterious California caller.  Maybe I’ll google the number.

I bet it’s the California Public Library Foundation.

-ODP

By the way, just in case California is a real person, I changed the phone number a little bit to protect Mysterious Caller’s mysterious identity.

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How to hold a door.

I’m a student at a university of 30,000 in a city 0f 800,000.  I’m taking a full load of classes, student teaching 2 days a week, and I work at a grocery store about 20 hours a week.  This means that I go in and out of a lot of doorways.  So I hold doors open for a lot of strangers, and a lot of strangers hold doors open for me.

But I’m pretty sure most people living in a city or suburb can relate, right?  And we all know the etiquette for the situation.  If someone is following you through a door within a certain distance, the courteous thing to do is to pause for a moment to hold it open for them.  But what are the rules exactly?  When is it socially acceptable to just drop the door?  Here are my rules of thumb:

1.  When you walk through a public door, cast a quick glance over your shoulder to see if anyone is behind you.  If there is, go on to number 2.

2.  If you made eye contact with them when you looked over your shoulder, hold the door for them no matter how far behind you they are.  Making eye contact and then dropping the door says, “I see you back there, but I just don’t care.”  If you saw someone behind you, but you didn’t make eye contact, go on to number 3.

3.  Are their arms full?  Are they elderly?  In a wheelchair?  Carrying a baby?  Struggling to get their umbrella folded up?  You know how I feel about umbrellas.  The point is, if they would for any reason have more trouble opening the door themselves than you’d have holding it for them, then hold it open.  If they appear fully capable, go on to number 4.

4.  Are they wearing a service uniform?  I like to hold doors open for military personnel, police, firemen, anyone wearing a uniform that shows they’ve made it their career to keep me safe.  It’s just a little gesture of respect, I suppose.  No uniform?  On to number 5.

5.  Now for the distance rule.  This is where you can be rude or awkward or make someone’s day.  If they are close behind you and the door slams in their face, you’re guilty of being rude.  But if they are far away and you hold the door, you create this awkward situation where they feel like they have to run to the door so they don’t keep you holding it for too long.  Practice makes perfect.

Now, just for the record, I’ve never really put any thought at all into this before.  I don’t go through this five-step process consciously in my mind every time I open a public door.  I just want to make sure you know that, so you don’t think I’m a super weirdo or something (Granted, if you know me, you might think that anyway).  But it doesn’t end with holding the door.  There’s usually some sort of verbal exchange that goes along with it, which tends to follow one of the following templates:

 

Verbal Exchange 1

Beneficiary: “Thanks”

Door-holder: “No prob’m”

 

Verbal Exchange 2

Beneficiary: “Thanks”

Door-holder: “Yep”

 

Verbal Exchange 3

Beneficiary: “Thanks”

Door-holder: “Mmhmm”

 

(Non)Verbal Exchange 4

Beneficiary: *smiles*

Door-holder: *nods*


And I guess all of those are okay.  I mean, the beneficiary acknowledges the gesture, and the door-holder acknowledges the gratitude.  Good deal.  But I think we could do so much better.  I’ve decided that if someone takes the time to hold a door open for me, I will take the time to say two complete words to express my appreciation.  Thank you. And maybe I am a super weirdo, but it makes me happy when I get to hold a door open for somebody.  So I’m trying something new and kind of radical.  When someone thanks me for holding a door open, I say “My pleasure.”  It feels really weird.  At least, it did at first.  Now it’s getting a little more normal.  I’ve gotten a lot of really big smiles from people too.

And that’s all I was really going for anyway.

-ODP

***Edit***

It has been brought to my attention by one of my readers that I failed to mention a very important rule of door-holding etiquette.  This is Joshua Bucy’s rule:

If you are behind someone, and they actually open the door for you and let you go through first at say, Jimmy John’s or McDonald’s where there’s a line on the inside, for God’s sake, let them get back in front of you. Every time I open the door someone at Panda Express, they inevitably get the last of the orange chicken.

Thank you so much, Joshua.  I wholeheartedly agree.  Just last week I lost some apple crisp in that very way.  It was rather tragic.

-ODP

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I gave up my best friend for Lent.

And if anyone is considering that for next year, I really would advise against it.  This was chosen for me against my will.  Early last Tuesday morning, I once again said goodbye to Kelsey, my best friend, who cruelly chose to run off to Chicago for college.

I’m a little bitter about it.

But after almost three years of this, we’ve pretty much surrendered to the routine.  We see each other at Fall Break, Winter Break, Spring Break, and Easter.

As we embraced at the door last week, it struck us that it was Mardi Gras, and the next time we’d see each other would be Easter Sunday.  “Leah!” Kelsey exclaimed, “I’m giving you up for Lent!!”  We both laughed, but I think it was a truer statement than either of us realized at first.  We spent the wee hours of Fat Tuesday really indulging in our friendship in preparation for the 40-day desert we saw before us.

I wish Kelsey and I got to see each other more often.  I might even be content with simply talking more often.  We’re just both incredibly busy and we literally have to make plans days in advance just to catch one another for a 20-minute phone call.  But this whole situation really made me appreciate the sturdy constitution of an old friendship.

I guess I’m on a posts-about-friendship kick now that I’m out of my posts-about-rain rut.  And I don’t even feel like this post is any kind of revelation about friendships or anything.  Today is just one of those days when I’m struck by the unfailing goodness of real friendship.

Good, old friendships are really sturdy.  Think about all the stuff they withstand.  All the storms they weather.  When Kelsey and I were teenagers and we had youth group activities four nights a week, we saw each other almost every day.  And miraculously, we never got sick of each other.  Wait…Kelsey, did you get sick of me? If she did, she sure didn’t act like it.  We saw each other all the time back then.  And at church camp during the Summer, we’d literally spend weeks together.  And now we see each other three or four times during a 9-month school year.  How does a friendship withstand that?

Somehow, it does.

Kelsey just told me that she’s graduating from college a semester early.  Hooray!!  That means only one more semester in Chicago!! No such luck.  My heart fell as in the next breath, she told me that she’s planning on getting a job up there as soon as she graduates.  But I’m so stinkin’ happy for her.  It leaves very little room for selfish disappointment in my spirit.

And besides, I still hold this stubborn and childish hope that someday Kelsey and I are going to live together.  She’s probably the only other human I’ve ever met who has the same beliefs about community that I do.  We’ve talked for years about buying a piece of land and a house one of these days and growing a garden and adopting kids and a bunch of jazz like that.  Or about getting a place in a big city like Chicago and living incredibly hospitable lives, friends and family under one roof (garden roof, yes please?).  Okay, so the exact plan is still a little vague, but we just want to be roommates!  With boyfriends and careers and responsibilities, who knows how realistic this dream really is?  I have a guess.  Not very. But like I said, this is a stubborn and childish hope, so far be it from anyone to try to wrestle it away from me or yank my head out of the clouds.

Really, all I’m asking is to one day see my best friend on a regular basis again.  But in the meantime, I know that she isn’t going anywhere.  Even if she stays in Chicago or goes back to Singapore or packs up and heads to Portland.  She’ll still be here. You know?  Because friendship is tough stuff.

-ODP

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The beautiful abuses of friendship.

I’m a really terrible friend.  Truly, I am, but I don’t mean to be.  I love my friends so very dearly, and I would like to think that I do an excellent job of expressing my appreciation, but I know better. 

In reality, I have forgotten to return so many calls that Ryan and Thomas probably think I must have dropped my cell phone in a swamp again.  Chris just gets a “Hey!  How the heck are ya??” text from me about once every month or two.  I’m certain Alex and Emma think I’ve fallen off the face of the earth since I left Ball State.  Kelsey, my Ball State roommate, and I talked more frequently when she was in Spain than we have since she got back.  And Shane, my Canadian pen pal of five years, hasn’t received a letter from me since before Christmas. 

Oh, and I’ve owed Paul dinner since last October or something like that.

But I have a feeling this friendship neglect isn’t half as bad as my abuse of the friends I do actually talk to on a regular basis.  I wonder exactly how long ago Sabra got sick of listening to me and comforting me and counseling me regarding my various and sundry relationship woes of the past eight years.  Probably about seven years ago, when we were head-over-heels for the same guy.  And I wonder why Michael even still talks to me considering my track record of using him to get the inside scoop on his friends and my more recent history of only communicating with him to whine about the messes he warned me not to make in my life.

Yesterday I apologized to Michael for being such a selfish friend, especially when there are really big things going on in his world too.  But as he does with every apology, he just told me to quit saying I’m sorry for things.  He said it was unnecessary.  At first I just thought that apologies freak him out (and I do think that apologies freak you out, Michael), but then that got me thinking that maybe he was serious.  Maybe he really doesn’t mind all that much that I’m such a bad friend.  Maybe he knows that I would do the same for him.  And I mean I really would do the same for him, unbegrudgingly, because he is one of my dearest friends.

But Michael isn’t the only one I’ve noticed being so selfless in friendship.  Sabra could have hated me for falling for her dream boy in 9th grade.  And she could have kicked me to the curb just about any day of the week since then for a hundred other offenses.  But she hasn’t.  And I’m sure she would be the first to tell you that she’s abused me too.  I guess we just aren’t keeping score.  We’re just happy to be friends, even when that means being accomodating of each other’s faults.

Maybe some unmalicious abuse is characteristic of real friendship.  I would never knowingly or willingly subject my friends to anything like that, but we’re imperfect creatures.  We mess up, and my unfortunate experience has been that sometimes we mess up at our friends’ expense.  But maybe that sort of mutual tolerance and steadfast forgiveness is the simplest, purest, and most everyday form of grace.  It’s just a theory.  I don’t know.

All I know is that because of the lives, laughter, tears, shoulders, hankies, hugs, kisses, counsel, encouragement, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, grace, and love of my friends, I am one blessed girl.

-ODP

For Ryan, Thomas, Chris, Alex, Emma, Kelsey, Shane, Paul, Sabra, Michael,  and all of my most abused and beloved friends.

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