the art of reconnecting

I am guilty of being a horrible friend sometimes. And a horrible daughter, sister, etc. It's the communication breakdown. It's not that I don't love these people, because I do, but picking up the phone to make a phone call to any or all of them often gets procrastinated for long periods of time, and I wind up with worried or pissy voice mails. "Hello, are you alive? Call me..you can just call and say you're alive and hang up, that would be fine." (This is almost verbatim of a recent message from my dad).

It also didn't help that the last couple years of my relationship with the ex, he tried desperately to alienate me from anyone who would tell me to use any good sense I might have left and leave him because I was miserable. That pretty much included anyone who knew me.

Since I've moved out on my own, I've been making an attempt at reconnecting with some people who mean a lot to me. In most cases, this was easy. Those people were still easily contacted at the same phone numbers and it just took a phone call to get things back on track. In one case, though, it was a bit more difficult. There are a couple of people in the world who know me really well. The kind of friends who remember the funniest thing I've ever said, have held my hair when I've partied too hard, and who know all of my biggest faults. They love me for all of those things and I love them right back.

"R" is one of those friends. We've known each other since high school, and were inseperable throughout those formative years. She was my first friend who understood my need to sometimes just take off for no particular destination just because I was feeling restless. We took an impromptu trip down to South Carolina when I was 19. I had a few hundred bucks in my pocket, she had a car. We just drove and drove, singing, smoking and laughing, with no concrete destination. Hot beach, cute boys..those were the necessities. We turned off the highway and headed toward the ocean when we hit South Carolina, basically just looking for somewhere to eat that didn't have a neon sign and a drive thru. We ended up in a seafood restaurant near the water somewher near Myrtle Beach. We were way underdressed and looked disheveled from over 10 hours in the car. The host informed us when we walked in that they had just closed the kitchen, I think it was 9pm. I gave him my best pouty face and explained that we had just driven straight there from NJ and we couldn't eat any more junk food but were absolutely starving, and could there maybe please be something we could eat that wasn't too much trouble for the kitchen and buy the yummiest bottle of wine he had? I saw the smirk on his face as he handed me the wine list and said he'd go to the kitchen to see if they could accommodate one more table. I didn't know a lot about wine at the time, which is probably only slightly less than I know now, but I remember that the the most expensive red wine on the long list was around $200. He came back, asked if there was anything on there that would be ok, and I pointed to it. He sat us down and we had what was one of the best meals I've ever had. At least that's how I remember it, but I realize that I was so hungry, it could have been just passable, and would have been gourmet goodness to me. Funny how we were never asked for ID when we ordered that bottle of wine.

I remember R laughing and questioning why I would spend what was most of my money on that one meal. "I was hungry" was the simplest and most true answer I could give. We spent most of the next few days eating saltines and drinking booze and getting crispy in the sun. Such a good trip.

R and I lost touch for over a year shortly after that trip... a fight involving a 3rd girlfriend, one of those stupid young girl things that you can't even remember later. We reconnected when R got engaged and called me out of the blue to ask me to be her maid of honor. Then she moved to the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania, had 2 beautiful kids, and though we both tried for a while to keep in touch, life happened and for the past 3 years, I haven't spoken to her at all. I tried a couple of years ago, but her number had changed, and I gave up. I searched for her online today and pulled up a number from switchboard.com. Thankfully, she married a man with an unusual last name. I was a little nervous about calling, fearing that she would be upset that I didn't try harder to keep in touch. The phone rang, and I heard her familiar voice pick up. I was so excited, i squealed her name, and she immediately squealed back at me. We were instantly 16 again, with big hair and ridiculously long nails and that was that. Lots of catching up was done, she has a 3rd baby now, and I cannot wait to trek to the middle of nowhere, PA when I get back from seeing my sister and niece.

2 comments:

sitboaf said...

There are only a couple of sayings that can be attributed to me, but this is one of them:
"We stay in touch with who we want to stay in touch with."
Sounds kinda dumb at first, but it's proven itself true. It doesn't feel like an effort to try when we really care. But, for everyone else: nice knowing you, but i can't keep up with the 4,000 people in my life who i've considered a friend at some point.

elizabeth said...

for some of us, the caring doesn't really equal to the effort or lack thereof. it's just something i'm bad at. i think the reason none of the people i've reconnected with have been upset is because they realize it's a quirk in my personality. i'm lucky they accept me regardless of that quirk, and hopefully i can get better at it. but that doesn't mean i won't still slack sometimes.