Thursday, February 16, 2006

Reach Out and Touch Someone

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.


Anonymous said...

Yes, feelings do get hurt, mostly my feelings, when I don't see you for what's to me an eternity. And you know all about "mommy time", don't you? YOU are the one that first came up with it. What bothers ME personally, is that you seem to FIND the time for some people (and I am NOT talking here about Billy) but your family is last. And while you go with Billy to see his family, you cannot bring yourself to stop over at YOUR parents house for a few minutes. I DO take that personaly.
I think one day you might understand all this, but for now I am trying to understand your feelings too, and deal with it, even though it is rather difficult at times, because I don't want to piss you off either. Rock and a hard place come to mind here.....

Anonymous said...

I am naturally much more like you when it comes to staying in contact with people but over the past few years I've been trying quite hard to be the opposite. I came to the reality that if I never call eventually my friends will tire of calling and reaching out to me.
You say that family and friends are important to you but didn't your old boyfriend claim to love you. We both know that actions speak louder than words. I swear I'm not trying to be bitchy I just think that sometimes it's easy to make excuses for one's behavior rather than facing up to it and as I'm a stranger I don't mind telling you the truth. Our non-relationship won't be effected by it.

Laurie said...

Mom, you might not believe it, but I understand how you feel...And I do feel bad.

Anonymous, you make an excellent point. I agree with you completely. That's what I'm saying: I need to stop excusing my behavior and actually do something.

Melanie said...

Hey Sweetie,

I maintain the most amount of guilt because it is not only your fault but certainly mine that we have not seen each other in ages. I have been through a mountain of trials and disappointments over the past couple of months which has made me essentially self consumed...I'm sorry. I want you to know that I love you and I have thought of you every day. We have been through so much over the years and no amount of time will ever change our friendship. Call me as soon as you can and we will make a plan....a DEFINITE plan!!! I love you, Melanie
P.S. (I may even have to bring a carton of cigarettes, be certain to block out about..ummm, 12 hours) :)

Anonymous said...

I don't want to hurt your feelings but for me it is really sad to realize that I don't have a friend anymore, and when I say this I don't mean that I don't want you to be my friend anymore, what I mean is since you are "in love" you forgot about the rest of the people, you forgot that is somebody in this wordl who only had one FRIEND, and that person is ME. I don't understand why when people are in love they just forget about friends, family, little persons with big personality like my son Adrian. Oh my God! I am so sorry if I sound rude, I just want to let you know that inside of my heart there is always going to be a BIG space for you because for me there is only one friend in the whole wordl and is my friend Chimi, and also I want to tell you that I think about you every single day of my life and that I always wish you the best and it will make me happy if I only know that you are fine and happy and for now my only way to know is with this stupid blog, and that is what is kiling me now, because I am happy that you are happy but at the same time I am so sad because I think that I lost my best friend, probably the best friend I ever had in my life.
One more time, I AM SO SORRY if I did hurt your feelings, but I always been afraid to call you and tell you this because I don't want you to get mad at me , I don't want to ruin your day or piss you off because my coments... stupid coments that come out of my stupid heart.
I want you to understand that I am always be your friend "EVEN IF YOU FORGET ABOUT ME".
Patty (that is how you call me the other day)
Sorry about my English, you know is really bad.

Anonymous said...

If you want your relationship with Billy to stay so fresh as it is, then you need to get out there and see your friends and family! Not only are you hurting them but your really hurting yourself in the end. Don't be one of those girls who puts their boyfriends before anything else that is important to you. I know you love him and enjoy doing nothing with him. But go see your friends and family and do nothing with them too. Billy will always be there......he sounds like a really nice guy and you can tell that he loves you dearly! But go look at your posts from the day things started with you two, he's all you wrote about from that moment on.....

Casey said...

I just want to say that everyone should give Laurie a break. Anything you guys are saying to her, she already acknowledged in her post. She's sorry!

She's in the middle of that new-relationship glow. Allow her this time. Forgive her for the neglect. And for the Billy posts!

We love you, Laurie!

Laurie said...

Okay, first of all, thank you Melanie and Casey. You've NO IDEA how much I appreciate your kindness.

Now, moving on:
This has to be said: I'm aware, thank you very much, of what I've written in the last six months. I know it's all been about Billy. But is that because I have absolutely, postively nothing else going on in my life besides him? No. It's because I like to write about him. It makes me happy to write about him. But God forbid I give you the wrong impression and leave you thinking that he's the only thing on my mind and in my day. Let me clear it up for you: I have not put him above every important thing in my life. Need I put the reminder out there, once again, that this is but a small portion of my life, my mind, my day? Please, please, please, try to remember that.

But, anyway, am I going to offer excuses for not keeping in touch as well as I apparently "should?" No. But do I think it’s fair that I put up a post that says, basically, “Hey, I know it’s shitty that I haven’t paid the proper attention to those of you that I love, and I’m sorry for it and I’m going to try and work on that,” and then get slammed for it? No.

But, fuck, even if I wanted to make an argument, I couldn't. I have a feeling I'd get more shit for an argument in my favor than I've already received for baring myself in the first place.

But, hey guys, way to make me regret writing something honest. Oh, and something that doesn't revolve around Billy.

Anonymous said...

Sorry if my comment was rude. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings..

Spirophita said...

Don't worry so much, darling!

Anything can be undone in much less time than it takes to do it, you know? All of us that are blissfully in love are like this at some point.

It's one step at a time. I had a friend who was a best friend and didn't talk to me for three months--that was difficult, but with just one step on both our parts, we're staying in contact again.

Just taking a little time is okay. Don't feel like you have to change your life for other people, but something I found is that when I started spending more time with my friends again, I brought more to my relationship with Mic. I had more to talk about, a better attitude (I was less crabby), and I got all of that girly stuff out of my system.

But just because making changes is good, doesn't mean you have to do it all at once. Bravo to you for realizing where you are. I can say that I've done it, and it has worked out for the very best.

Good luck!