Why make new friends? Keep the old . . .

It’s funny, but in a posting just a few days ago, I was talking about signs, and then today my “Daily OM,” which is supposed to be a page with words of wisdom for the day, was all about how we should react when someone just does not like us for whatever reason, because as people, especially women, our natural reaction is to expect everyone to like us first, and then to adjust to the fact that someone may not like us, even though we may have never wronged this individual. Interestingly enough, both of my husbands have made the same observation about my relationships or non-relationships with other women: other women either hate me or love me. There is no grey area with them, and usually this is an automatic response. I truly have no idea why this happens. I have observed myself to see why this might happen, but so far, I have been unable to come up with an answer.

I have learned a few things along the way, though. I do attract one certain type of woman immediately: the woman who wants to be my instant friend, do everything for me, be my helper, buddy. And almost every single time I am naive enough to trust this person immediately, be drawn in. For some reason, my usually acute radar does not work with this sociopath, and every single time, this person ends up causing me a world of pain and sorrow, almost always in the workplace. Too bad for me, though, I share so much of my personal self that this person then has a foothold in my personal life, too. I remember only one time in which the boundaries didn’t cross, and that was because it was during grad school (the first time), and I met her personally, so there was no crossover into work.

The pattern has been the same every time: lots and lots of shared experiences–it’s almost like we’re sisters (more on that later), a lot of time spent together–shopping, lunches, a lot of proprietary time–telephone calls, a lot of political maneuvering, but not so obvious at first. And then there comes a time I’ll call “The Judas Moment” when one of two things happens: 1) I am suddenly persona non grata with this person, and I do not quite know what happened or 2) I have fallen from grace at work, and I have no idea why. More often than not, it’s a combination, but once in a blue moon, I will have the good sense to cut off the relationship on my own before this moment befalls me.

I have a feeling that I am so vulnerable to this personality type because I have no sisters, so I have never learned the defenses that go along with protecting myself from female territorial behavior. No, I’m being serious here. Imagine that you have a female lion that has never been indoctrinated into the behaviors of the pride as a young cub, and then when she grows up, you throw her into the pride with only her claws and say, “good luck. You have a really nice coat.” Well, hey, I’m an only child. I got along better with my dad. My best buds in high school were guys. You tell me where I’m going to get this subtle indoctrination from? These claw-sharpening skills? I know straight-forward, in your face, and that revenge is a dish best served cold. These are my fighting skills. That would be why the term bitch served me well when I was younger, but you also always knew where you stood with me. I was a better manager for it because if I thought that you were doing something wrong, I told you so that you could fix it. Would it have been better if I were your ‘friend’ and then fired you a week later?

To this day, there remains one person in one particular job who I am certain did everything that she could to get me fired, but luckily she couldn’t for reasons I won’t go into. She did, however, leave me feeling emotionally battered and bruised, and there remains another job that I left on my own but not before I’m certain my reputation had been tainted irreparably by my sanity-questioned co-worker.

But I have read that in life, the number of true friends that you have throughout your life, if you are lucky, you can count on one hand, two if you are very lucky. And I find that to be true. I know that there are a few people that I let fall out of my life that I really regret losing, and that is my fault. One of them worked at the Museum, and she was truly a wonderful person. I ran into her at the store about five years ago and promised to call her, but I didn’t. I know that she was going to move to Richmond, and I hope that she is happy. I still think of her often and remember her fondly. When I started work there, she bought me flowers, but not just any flowers. She bought me a bird of paradise. I didn’t even know what one was. She said that she wanted to buy me a flower that looked like it matched my personality. I thought that it was one of the most wonderful compliments that anyone had ever paid me. I was lucky to have her in my life for the years that I did.

I do still keep in touch with a few other friends who don’t live around here. I’ve mentioned them in my blogs. They’ve all moved away, but not completely out of my life. It is hard for me to make women friends, simply because I tend to give my trust too early and to the wrong people, and so I am gunshy.
I made a few friends during my recent stint in grad school, but being the commuter, it was hard to get close to most of the people who already lived near the metropolitan area.

And so, for now, I’ll keep up with people electronically. I don’t have to watch what I say. I don’t have to worry about pissing of someone by wearing the wrong thing. I don’t have to play office politics. I can be myself, whatever that is on any given day, whether it’s the poet, the dark angel, or Lola, or the woman who really just wanted to make a new friend. If you are offended, don’t read my posts.

Things that break or touch my heart or bring me to tears (in no particular order)

In the Gloaming
In the Gloaming

Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings
The scene in The English Patient in which Almaszy is carrying Katherine from the Cave of the Swimmers
Finding a picture unexpectedly that I haven’t seen in years that brings back painful memories
When one of my children is hurting and there is nothing that I can do about it
The scene in the final M*A*S*H after Charles has taught the Korean musicians to play and then finds out that their truck has been blown up, and he breaks all of his records
Finding a dead baby bird
Knowing that I wasn’t with my dad when he died
Arlington Cemetery
“Amazing Grace” played on the bagpipes
“Taps” played anytime
Thinking about the poem “My Mother’s Pink Sweater”
Seeing pictures of flag-draped coffins still coming home
The Viet Nam memorial
Remembering how I used to be able to hike the trails on Skyline Drive
The time Alexis brought me a dead baby rabbit and I had to bury it
All of the times the boys’ frogs died
Hearing that tone in Eamonn’s voice when he is hurting
Not hearing the water from the pond outside my bedroom window
Missing all of the wind chimes that used to hang from the rafters of the house
Not having Mari nearby on a daily basis, or Jammi, or Rebecca
The smell of baby blankets
Memories of CHKD
Richard Shelton’s poem “Letter to a Dead Father”
Not teaching college any more
Not being able to roam the galleries of the Museum when it was closed
Hearing a beautiful pipe organ well-played in an empty church
Hearing the closing Hallelujah at church
Listening to the twenty-one-gun salute at my father’s funeral
Hearing Kelly sing “Because of You” at Wanna be’s takes my breath away
The scene in Return of the King when Frodo leaves on the boat with Gandalf
Still waking up from hospital nightmares screaming and crying
Seeing that look in Brett’s eyes that lets me know that he just can’t do it today
Knowing that one of my dogs is getting too old to go on
Realizing that someone I confided in betrayed me
Waking up in pain yet again
Hearing Alexis’s voice on the other end of the phone and knowing that she is in pain
Watching the planes fly into the buildings
Memories of Caitlin’s dark brown hair
Having to acknowledge how different life has become for everyone because of my physical changes
Looking at Corey and worrying about where his dreams have taken him and just how much has been taken from him
Remembering how I used to drink in authors and pour out that knowledge to waiting minds and missing the ongoing challenge of that so much
The beauty of Ondaatje’s book The English Patient and the equally haunting beauty of David Lanz’s “Cristofori’s Dream,” together they are almost too much to bear
Finding out that I have actually been mistaken in believing in happiness
Wondering where all of the time has gone

What Makes Me Happy or makes me cry tears of joy

Tillie
Tillie

These are some of the things that makes me happy in life (in no particular order):

Brett’s laugh
Playing ball in the pool with Shakes and Tillie
Pepsi over crushed ice
A great mix of music that I have created
Knowing that I have just captured a great shot with my camera
Sharpies in new bright colors
A really great thunderstorm when the lights go out and the lightning is wild
The feel of Eamonn’s hair
When our bed turns into the family bed again because everyone piles onto it at once
The smell of Corey’s skin when he is wearing my favorite cologne
Pictures of my dad
Finishing the last twenty pages of a book without anyone interrupting me
Finding a new author to add to my collection
Discovering a new brand of ink pen that writes smoothly and isn’t too thin
Pepperidge Farm Chess Men cookies
When Corey wears jeans and a long-sleeved white shirt with the sleeves rolled up
Watching Tillie have a tantrum when she wants to get away with something
Floating in the pool and listening to the birds sing
The smell of fresh cut lilacs and gardenias
Waking up without too much pain
Getting a card for no reason at all
Having a good hair day
Finding the perfect pair of black boots
Watching The Lord of the Rings (again) with one of my sons
Taking Alexis shopping and being able to buy her anything she wants
Fresh peaches with just the right amount of juice running down my chin
Rolling over in the middle of the night and finding Corey’s arm
The feel of clean sheets on freshly shaved legs
Listening to Corey sing “I Cross My Heart” to me when we go to sing karaoke
The smell of fall
Seeing a perfect sunset over aqua blue water
Looking at old pictures and reliving good times
Looking at Alexis’s beautiful eyes
Thinking about Caitlin before the hospital
Writing a poem that I really like
Watching a movie that actually holds together and I that I wasn’t able to predict the ending of
Hearing from old friends and knowing that they really still love me in spite of time and distance
Seeing my exhusband and knowing that I don’t hate him, that I’ve made peace
A good vanilla bean milkshake
The fact that W will soon be out of the White House
The smell of 4711 and everything that it evokes
Wrapping Christmas presents and getting the house ready for the holidays
Going on a cruise with my husband and discovering new places
Feeling safe
Learning new things
Watching my dogs sleep, even if they do hog all of the space on the bed
Being outside in the mountains at night with nothing else around except the stars and the sky
My beautiful computer screen and its uber high resolution
Listening to the bird song just before dawn
Knowing that even though we have our rough patches, my family is what saves me
Ice cream
Pachelbel’s Canon in D
Reading a book that is so good that it leaves me gasping when I’ve turned the last page
Looking at all of the beautiful gardens that Corey has created around our house
Slow dancing with Corey
Having Corey wash my hair
Getting my nails done with Alexis and stopping for slurpees on the way
Having long talks with either one of my sons
Sweater weather
Knowing that I’ve nailed it when I sing “The Georgia Rain”
Driving over a bridge and seeing the water when it’s particularly beautiful
Taking a long bath with all of the candles lit
Painting my toenails
Finding pictures of old doors or arches
Making love in front of the fireplace
Getting a foot massage
Corey’s tequila salmon over rice
Memories of my mom and dad getting dressed up to go out to the club in London
Memories of dancing on the table at the Christmas party when the Beach Boys played
Finding seashells on the beach after a storm
Watching the sun go down from the pier with Corey’s arm around me
A big kiss on the cheek from one of the dogs
A big hug from Brett when he knows that I need one
Listening to Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You”
and finally, for now, faith, hope, and belief when I need it most.