She answered the phone on the fifth ring, just before the machine picked up. Reaching over her husband’s sleeping back, and clumsily grasping the receiver, she had her eyes closed as she mumbled “Hello?” Her eyes rolled behind closed eyelids as she recognized the voice of the too-perky-for-the-morning neighbor.
At least that’s how I imagine it. My phone call woke them up, and after that mistimed call, I never called again. It’s ridiculous, really. Even after she assured me it was no big deal, but I still never called again. And despite having a lot in common, our friendship relied on chance encounters and common acquaintances, and it never became the relaxed, easy relationship promised when we first met.
Sixty second experiences like that can easily affect relationships of all kinds. Combined with shyness or newness or simple embarrassment, friendships can flourish or shrivel when exposed to insecurities. Seems silly, doesn’t it? I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationships that modern society encourages and stifles. And since I’ve never been an especially social person, and because I often say and do (slightly) off-color things, I’m particularly hard hit its influences.
Since moving to The Suburbs, friendships have changed the way they grow. With a backyard available, the park is not a twice-a-day trip. And besides, in a car culture, playgrounds aren’t necessarily inhabited by families who live close-by. Most of the people I know are through my kids’ preschool. And from what I hear, most of my future friendships will be based on my children’s elementary school classes – it makes choosing a school much more important!
I’ve also found that friendships are a lot more fragile than they seemed in the past. One conversation gone wrong (politics! race! education! taxes! twitter!) can mean uncomfortable interactions and half-hearted attempts at making plans. We parents are sensitive, defensive creatures; every action and comment and behavior is judged as it is. And we parents have too little alone time to bother with drawn-out conversations and explanations and second chances.
Is it just me? Or have we lost patience with Try, Try Again when it comes to grown-up friendships?
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