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.