Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Don't Grow Up. It's a Trap!


This is a little bit different than what I usually post. It almost feels like what I would write in my Livejournal way back when. It may even be deleted at some point, as it is quite personal. It is about a realization that I had, that adult lifestyle changes and expenses can block our joy and connection.

 I felt compelled to write this up, after this conversation. I hope someone else can relate.

"Remember when we were teenagers?
When we would just hang out?
Remember when we would scrape together just enough cash to get some really cheap food to share by the lake?Or the campground by the river?"

During a recent conversation with an old friend it struck me that I just do not do any of these things with my current friends. Don't get me wrong. I love my current friends.

There has to be a point to a get together now. A birthday, a shopping trip for an occasion, a baby shower.

On most occasions there is wine now. I wish I liked wine. I like stouts and porters. And rum. 

And the food. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Whoever thought, when we were scarfing down oatmeal creme pies as teenagers that we would ever judge and be judged by how organic, locally sourced, free range, fair trade, gluten & gmo free the appetizers were.

It has become all too elaborate.

 When we make plans to get together with friends, it is to do something. Structured. Something entertaining. Something that will distract us from each other. Something that usually involves a gaggle of kids and all the patience we can manage so that we can attempt an adult conversation whilst being interrupted at least once per sentence.

Even at the playground it often feels like we are lifeguards at a very busy pool. Trying to keep everyone alive. Eyes catching every flail of a little limb, every sputter, every argument,  every possible slip and fall.

It is exhausting, and it is the reality of being the parent of active toddlers.

Relationships fade away, while new ones grow. Often the more accepting people in our lives, the ones who understand the struggles of this position in our life cycle, they are the only ones we call when we are in need.

 Many times it is too exhausting  to pretend you aren't exhausted in another person's company, so you pass it up altogether.

The last time I just hung out with a friend was when my daughter was a toddler. Our husbands were away at war, and we needed each other. We didn't want to be alone,  so we were alone together.

This person became so, so close to my family. Our children were inseparable. We were inseparable.

We were both on a enlistee's military budget, and I was going to school too. Money was tight.

So we would just hang out. I would go over there. She would bring her kiddos over here. We would do nothing. Just talking usually. Not the idle chatter at a moms meetup (I am so not good at those). Real talking.

The talking you do when you were a teenager. Only we were way older, and less melodramatic. It was brilliant.

I still miss my friend. Our circumstances changed, and we changed with them. Our husbands returned from war, and when that happens you try  to resume life from the place you were when they left. Only you can't actually do that because the time has passed very differently for each person. Sometimes it feels like a parallel universe situation.

Our focus returned to our husbands. My attention was also spent trying to find a job after I finished school so my husband could leave the military and go to school himself.

Once I started working full time, of course I could not come over and hang out at 2. I was working.
My friend and I grew apart. Angry words were said. We both felt abandoned I think.
We have not spoken in five years.
I have not felt a connection that strong since.
I can't explain why.

During the recent discussion I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my old friend said she felt so trapped by her budget, saying she could never have fun anymore because it cost too much. She is paying down student loans.  She is struggling. 

We had nothing as teenagers. Only nature, and spare change, and each other.

I wish I was there with her (she is in CA). We would go to the lake at dusk, invite whoever out, start a bonfire, and hang out

This was my recommendation to her. I hope she gets to it.

As soon as the weather is not freezing and rainy, I will be doing the same. Now I will do it with more kids, and maybe some (organic, non-GMO, gluten free...) s'mores ingredients.

I don't care how old or 'sophisticated' I get. Hanging out at bonfires will always be fun, and usually free.

So where are you at in your life cycle? Still hanging out? Living the toddler mom life?

More importantly, how do you feel about bonfires?

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