I have been a really shitty friend.
Last night, I met with my friend, Laura, for a quick drink right after work. The purpose of our meeting was to exchange Christmas presents. Christmas presents. It's February, for Christ's sake.
On Valentine's Day, for the first time in probably a month, I spoke to Pollo. And why did we speak? Because I got a text message from her that read "Even if you forgot about me, I hope you have the best Valentine's Day ever." We texted back and forth until I was able to get away from my desk for a second to actually call her. I missed her accent, her laugh. I missed her. But it took her reaching me for me to reach back.
I made plans, oh, probably a month ago to meet with Melanie. But snow came. And then work got in the way. After three failed attempts at seeing each other, we forgot to reschedule for a fourth time.
I haven't gone out dancing with Derek in months, longer if you don't count the one night we both wound up at the same Christmas party.
I haven't seen Ed & Scott since before winter's first snowstorm. In fact, the last time I was there, I don't even think I wore a coat.
Nancy and Alex are probably the only people I see, but even they are getting scraps of my time. They'll call to meet for drinks or have dinner, and I'll go over my schedule, and come up with a day a week from now where I can see them.
I have not called my amazing friend Tumbleweed in ages. And I haven't spoken to my friend Dominique since she got married in May.
And don't even get me started on how little I see my family. When I'm staying at Billy's (which has been for the last, oh, five and a half months), my parents live literally two minutes away. Yet I still have a hard time finding the time to see the two people I love most in this world. And my brother? We haven't had a conversation that lasted over five minutes since he went back to school in January.
And it's not that my evenings are so chock full of activity that I just can't squeeze in any socializing. After work, I might go to the gym, but then it's home. Throw a load of laundry in the washer and plop myself in front of the computer or the TV with a glass of wine. I'm so tired on my half hour drive home, that I sometimes wish it were acceptable to just go to bed at 6:30. But if I went to bed that early, I wouldn't see Billy when he gets home at 9:00. The only thing I want, in driving home at the end of the day, is to curl up in bed with my boyfriend and something good on DirecTV.
I just quit my second job at a local township, freeing up the whopping two evenings a month that it claims. I just got a new phone, with a new plan so that I can talk during the day and not worry about going over my minutes. I should be all caught up with my friends. I'm making more money now, so I can't even blame my homebody behavior on lack of funding. Hell, when I was making no money, I was out every night. I found a way to afford a social life.
But then, when I was out all the time, when my roommate Joe would see me right after work and say "Lemme guess: You'll be out tonight, right?", I was single. Or, I was in a relationship, but my boyfriend lived a half hour away and only wanted to see me if I wanted to drive to see him. And going out was more appealing than staying home with a phone that wouldn't ring. Most nights, anyway.
I go through phases: I'll be extremely social one week, then a complete introvert the next. Apparently, I've been an introvert for the last six months, sequestering myself from everyone but Billy. And it's not that I'm not allowed to go out without Billy. He'd give me his blessing if I said "Hey, I won't be home till late tonight; I'm going out with some friends." He'd tell me I looked nice, kiss me, tell me to have a good time and tuck himself into bed with a Jack & Ginger, a pack of cigarettes and the remote. And I'd come home to find him in the exact same spot. Only, probably, he'd be asleep. It's just that I really enjoy spending my time with him, doing nothing. And he feels the same way. At least that's what he says. We truly enjoy each other's company. Whether we're out somewhere or home in bed, I'm having a good time. And, unfortunately, I've turned out to be one of those girls who neglects her friends because she's so enamored of her boyfriend.
And I know that's so bad. I've heard all those "boyfriends come and go, but friends stay forever" lines. And, trust me, if anybody knows that to be the truth, it's me...
But it isn't just when I have a boyfriend that I'm like this. It's pretty much all the time. Yes, I'm more sociable when I'm single, but even then I got into a mode where I can't stand to be around people, and I'd lock myself up in my house and just be by myself.
The problem is this: Single or attached, I tend not to be a very demonstrative person when it comes to my friends. And most of them know and understand that. Usually, if someone wants to talk to me, they have to call me. It's not that I don't think of my friends and family often, but I'm just a very hands-off friend. I'll go three weeks without talking to someone and think nothing of it. It doesn't mean I love them any less, or that I'm angry, it just means that I haven't thought to call them, not that I haven't thought of them. Besides, I hate to talk on the phone (though Verizon does disagree with me on that), so a phone call from me takes extra special effort.
But now, when I next see any of my friends, it will be six months' worth of recaps. I'll have to go over everything about Billy and my new job, my family and my personal triumphs and failures. And my friend will have the same responsibility, to catch me up on all the happening in his or her life. Which means we have to block off, like, a four hour chunk of time to do all the catching up that needs to be done... And the longer I wait, the worse it gets. I know I'm going to get shit for not calling, then I'll have to make excuses, and I'll feel guilty...And it just gets so overwhelming that I...I don't know...hide, I guess.
Some of my friends understand that: That my absence, my disappearance is nothing personal. That we'll reunite sooner or later, and we can pick up exactly where we left off. But they know I'll be there for them if they need me, just as I know they'll be there for me when I need them. Some people, and some family members, don't understand that at all. Feelings get hurt, and I'm the thoughtless friend/daughter that never calls and never makes time for them. The people that I do call regularly...That's an effort. I have to remind myself to call, tell myself to keep in touch.
I always swear I'm going to change that about myself. That's been a New Year's Resolution of mine for ages. "I'll call people when I say I will. I'll make time for friends and family..." And then December comes and I've gone another year as the person people have to track down to talk to.
Maybe I should try that resolution now.