Saturday, January 16, 2010

Living the Good (Double) Life

I’ve lived in DC for almost two & a half years now. In that time, I’ve made some really close friends. The problem is, I still have a lot of really close friends at home, too.

OK, OK, so that’s not exactly a problem. But here’s the thing: For someone who’s such a social hermit, I sure do have an uncanny ability to bring lots of great people into my life. And this is a problem because it means that about 70% of the time, I want to be sitting on my couch watching TV or blogging or reading a book, which are all distinctly not the best ways to keep in touch with any of these great people.

I am notorious for bailing on plans, something I’m trying to work on ("Don’t commit in the first place if you know you probably won’t follow through," & other such brilliant pieces of advice to myself). I’m also notorious for saying things like, “I’d love to come. I’ll let you know!” & then either falling asleep or failing to muster the inspiration to put on pants & leave the apartment.

When I visit home, it’s much the same. It should be relaxing to go back to the place I love most, right? You’d think so - but I’ve spent two years trying to cram in quality time with all of my friends & all of my family on every single trip back to the Buckeye State. On each long weekend home, I verbally pencil in a dozen odd visits; my mom helps me overbook myself, scheduling lunches & breakfasts & quick drop-ins.

The last few trips home, though, exhausted by my DC life & needing an Ohio-induced pick-me-up, I decided it was time to take a different approach. So I slept in. I stayed home a little, lounged & watched TV & played with my dog. And when I scheduled time with friends, I scheduled it with – gasp! – only those people I really wanted to see (save a few) & then made the effort to see those people more than once, if possible. The end result was a few fun nights of actual QT with the people I’m pretty sure I’ll still be friends with 20 years from now. A shocking & earth-shattering move on my part, I know, but this seemingly self-evident change made for two of the best (& most rejuvenating!) visits home in two & a half years.

And tonight, I got reamed for it. I won't go into it, but it was nasty & hurtful & high-schoolesque, sent via text from a friend I didn't get to see this time around. I sulked a little, cried a little, & spent a good hour feeling like a huge jerk. And in the end, I was left wondering if I'd made the right decision on those last two trips. I never meant to burn any bridges - I just wanted to be with the people I wanted to be with.

But you know what? I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't been able to see them, the people I saw, they wouldn't have been (too) angry with me - & if they were, they would have forgiven fairly quickly. They would have seen that time is precious & that it's a hot commodity on short trips. They would have realized that I was tired, sad, overwhelmed - that I needed me-time, or family time, or time with other people. They would have told me that we could make up for it next time I was in town. In short, they would have understood.

And that's how I know that I made the right choice in the first place. The people I chose to spend time with are the ones who would have understood if I hadn't had the time to spend with them. Because that's what friends do - they understand when you need them to.

I never got that "Garden State" feeling, where home stops feeling like home. For me, Ohio has always felt like home, & I don't foresee that changing anytime soon, if ever. It's tough living two lives - one here & one there, both filled with equally meaningful relationships. But it's worth it, I think. They're all worth it.

Remember that childhood song, “Make new friends, but keep the old”? I could never figure out who was silver & who was gold, or which was supposed to be the better of the two. But maybe that's the point.

17 comments:

thegoodgirlgoneblog.com said...

Uch I hate those immature friends. I've had the same thing happen to me and honestly, you're right. You don't want to hang out with them anyway!

Christina Anne said...

Oh, Kate. I know exactly how you feel. After years of stressful Ohio visits that always left me feeling exhausted and guilty over someone or other I didn't get to see or spend quite enough time with, I finally did some reflection on who really mattered in my life. I try to make it a point to see some of those people during one home visit, and catch up with the others on the next.

And those people who matter most have always understood. They may be a little disappointed to know I was home and I didn't call, but in the end they understand that next time will be their turn and they don't try to make me feel bad about it. I know other people have gotten angry, but I'm learning not to let it get to me anymore. Trips home should be relaxing and restful and should not leave you returning to work/life feeling more exhausted than when you came. And it's not worth feeling guilty over some immature person who doesn't care enough about you to try to see from your perspective how overwhelming it can be to come home.

I love you! And I have no idea who you're talking about, but I'm sure you made the right choice, too.

GingerMandy said...

i get the exact same way, it's like i want to do something and go out, but putting on pants, primping a little, driving, and everything else is sometimes just too much effort. but i usually end up realizing it's not all that, it's more that i'm not exceptionally excited about the people i'll be spending time with, and sometimes i'd rather just spend time with myself than them. i guess it doesn't always look the best to others but i'm not going to go out and do something i don't really want to do just to prevent any hard feelings.

and some friends are just lame and take too many things personal. that's the worst. the people i've stayed good friends with are the ones who understand if something comes up or if you just have to bail, and you don't need some sort of outrageous reason to do so. i can't handle the high strung friends who over think everything and take it personal if you don't see them everytime you're around. makes things much less enjoyable in the end.

Anonymous said...

Since I'm the one who knows you best I can only say you absolutely made the right decision & I totally agree with Christina's post (love u Christina!). You were like a different person these last two visits because you took this approach. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty about it, you do what you can when you're here & let the rest go until the next time. ILU, Mom

Kate said...

Do you know how many times I've gone home and not seen a soul except my family? It's just how it is. And now, I slide in and out of Des Moines to see the baby and no one else - even though I lived there for 12 years. Whatever. The people who love me know that the baby is the most important thing in my life right now and every moment spent with him is precious. Duh. Get over yourself, I say to those who complain. Get your ass on a plane and come see ME if it's that big of a deal.

Grace said...

I know that feeling. Going home can be overwhelming most of the time. I have a HUGE family and then I also want to see friends that are spread out all over California. I try and do what you do when I'm home. It usually makes for a much nicer visit.

Of course for me I have not had as much luck making friends in DC. It's hard for me to make friends. I'm shy and get nervous calling to make plans with people. I have met a ton of people since I've been here and put myself out there and hang out with a decent amount of people regularly but for some reason I haven't truly clicked with anyone. Maybe I need to do some reflecting.

Lauren @ten23designs said...

Well it looks like I was right about you all along... You ARE the younger, hip version of me. I too use to give it a lot of thought, now not so much... And the good friends and family who REALLY know us, already know we are like that yet still stay in our lives... Because they are meant to be there.

No matter who comes and goes in your life... Now matter who is gold & silver, always remember one thing... You always have twitter! :o) *smile*

erin said...

i'm totally with you on this one.when i lived away i felt so overwhelmed with coming home. people wanted too much from me and were always disappointed in the lack of time i could muster up for them. thatd why i love my friends in VA so much..., even though i live back "home" now, when i travel to VA to visit friends, its usually so calm and fun. no pressure.
its a tough thing to balance!

KeepingYouAwake said...

This can happen even if they're all friends within an hour of you. It seems you can only have so many friends, up to a quota before it becomes a management nightmare.

Have you gone out with X lately, did you return Y's phone call, Is next week Z's niece's birthday party? All of these questions you have to manage if your large group of friends aren't also friends with each other.

It sounds like you made the right choice for you, and I agree that they'd understand before making you feel bad, if they're "real" friends.

chicknamedhermia said...

I hate being made feel like a social freak for prefering to curl up on the sofa instead of hitting a nightclub! I nearly always bail on those nights cos I just hate the drunken sweatiness of clubs....it's not spending time with friends if you can't hear each other!!!!
But yeah, you're right! If you're friend had sent a text saying Look I'm kinda hurt that you haven't made the effort to see me, then you'd be like Oh crap I'm sorry, I'll see you next time. A real friend doesn't try to make you feel like crap! FACT!

The Jazzy Olive said...

Hey!

Love your blog. I found it a couple of weeks ago but didn't really get a chance to actually read it until now. I'm from Ohio too! Yayy! I do the same thing now when I go home -- I make the effort to see the people I REALLY want to see and then spend the rest of the time actually relaxing and staying in like I want to. It makes for a much more peaceful time. And those people that I don't get to see? Well I drove 8 hrs to go home and if they want to see me THAT BADLY, they can take an 8 hr trip out to DC! Keep up the great blogging!

brad said...

Until a few years ago, I had never just cut a friend out of my life. But her insistence re: how my time should involve her just became too much. It's supposed to be easy. Sure, of course, there are challenges in honest friendships. But when the question became "How do I spend enough time to keep [the friend] from being annoyed?" rather than "How can I see [the friend] more?" it was time to move on.

Ashley @ Germato.com said...

Finally got to check out your blog and I'm glad I did! I can relate to this so well. I've lost a lot of friends over my life so far due to moves and my inability to want to be social 24/7.

I'm a homebody to the core. And that's perfectly okay with me. Life isn't all about being outside of where you're most comfortable. Without knowing everything, I truly do think you made the right decision. She should have stood by you or at least asked, rather than being a coward.

Jackie said...

I totally know the feeling. I actually get it with family a lot too. If I don't see everyone everytime I go home I somehow like one family more than the other and blah blah blah. It is exhausting.

Skinny Dip said...

I can totally relate--When I go home I like to RELAX. I came to the conclusion that by trying to see every last person it becomes chaotic and very un-relaxing. So now I just focus on seeing the people who are closest to me (my immediate family and my two best friends). Then I'll try and see one other person as well (ie. a blog friend or another friend that I love seeing). I try to mix these friends up so that I am seeing someone different each visit but still managing to keep in touch with everyone throughout the year.This tactic has made my time @ home way more enjoyable.

Don't feel bad--Anyone who doesn't understand how limited time can be when you're home for a visit maybe isn't that great a friend after all.

I'm definitely guilty of going into hibernation mode. My intention for 2010 is to say "yes" to more stuff, get out more & experience more new things :)

Dmbosstone said...

When I go home I always overbook myself because I try to see a lot of friends. However I always, always make sure I see my best friend/neighbor first. I think I am going to relax more at home next time I go back.

As your so called "friend" I guess because of how often I try to see people and how it doesn't always work out- I know that we are all overbooked and I understand that I'll always have friends that are flaky and that's ok. Because to somebody else I am that person too.

Mike129 said...

Pants are over-rated.

I should say something insightful so you will know that I am all intelligent and stuff.

But I can't.

The picture of that tongue has me entirely confounded at the moment.

*sigh*

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