Are you like I have been? Do you invite everyone over? When you move someplace new, do you invite the neighbors in, rather than wait for them to possibly invite you? (Pre-Covid and all that…) Are you the first to say, “Need a place to hold it? We can come to my place!”
I am that person.
Or, I should correct, I have always been.
Some people are cautious, with their time, their privacy, their resources, their personhood.
I have not been very good at any of that, and I have always gone on the assumption that everyone will be open and welcoming, given the chance to be so, so why not be the one to start the ball rolling?
I’m less sure of that now, and I don’t think it is a bad thing. In any case, I’m no longer interested in it.
Don’t bemoan my fate. I’ve not become a hater or anything. I’m just changing my priorities, or, I might even say, having some.
Back-in-the-day, as we old-heads say, the people I was having in were usually people I’d grown up with, and their extended new friends/family. That was almost always fine, because we had a life-long understanding of each other, and we knew that the night was going to end with everyone, drunk or sober, belting out “Born to Run” as loud as possible. (That’s right, as LOUD as possible, not as loudly as possible, for we were from Philly, and we didn’t give a good fuck about grammar.) I never had to specify pot-luck. Everyone knew, and the tables would groan under the weight of the too many dishes everyone (many of them fine Italian cooks) would bring. It was pretty great.
But, as happens, we all moved, followed our partners, our passions, or the sun, and ended up too far away for those parties to happen anymore.
I went forward, assuming that everyone would be similar, that people were people like my people, but that is not the case, and, truly, I was dumb-da-dumb-dumb-stupid to think so.
Still, it’s probably good that I went forward into the world swinging wide the doors to my house. I think that’s where my head and my heart were at the time, and I think it was right for me, and lot’s of good came of it, but, ultimately, whatever came of it, good or bad, really wasn’t what I was looking for.
So what was I looking for? What are you looking for? Do you know?
I think some of that changes as we age, and some of it stays the same, of course, Captain Obvious in the house..
My priorities have shifted. They are much more about my family of three, and much less about everyone else. I have been a care-taker, not with the old-school Philly peeps, but with all who came after, more or less, and that’s who I thought I was, and who I thought I wanted to be, and how I thought I mattered in the world.
It has long been a goal of mine to, in some way, matter in the world. And I think I kept that as a hope, clenched in my hand, and now, I’ve let go of it. Whether or not I matter in the world, whether or not anyone knows I was alive after I am dead, these things no longer matter to me. I matter to me, and being happy and enjoying my life matter to me. When I’m dead, I won’t care if I mattered to you or not. I will care, right before I die, if I’ve enjoyed my life, and spent it with the people who matter to me, and not spent it continually courting the people I kept hoping I would matter to. And why did I hope I would matter to them? I think I thought they were cooler than me. How junior high is that? I’m a dope. I’m cool enough on my own.
As I pack up and get ready to move from where I am to someplace that, in my view, is, for a whole host of reasons, better, I am clearing things out, taking car loads of things, things I no longer need or care about, to Goodwill. Putting furniture out and listing it FREE on Craigslist. Instead of opening the door to the house and beckoning people in, I’m opening the door to the house and shooing things out.
Of all the houses I have owned and the apartments I have rented, this is the one I have loved the most, and been the most comfortable in, and now cannot wait to get away from. I accomplished all I could, and now I want to leave it behind; it is too big; it holds too many people and things; it’s so beyond what I need or want that it is a chore. I want to lighten up, to spend my time walking hand-in-hand with my husband, or hitting the beach or the mall with my daughter, or traveling with both of them, just for fun, and, aside from work, which we all must do, not doing a heck-of-a-fuck else. I’ve said my goodbyes, in the way I want to say them, and seen who I want to see, and soon I’ll be on the road, which I love. I love being on the road. I like the new thing, the next chapter, I just don’t like the holding pattern of transition, and the goodbyes before leaving.
So, during this last adventure, here in this big house, I may have had more people in then I have ever had over before, and I have been asked to visit less of those people in their homes than ever before. I ran into a lot of takers. Not that they are, in fact, my enemies (as the title implies…). They just never were true friends. They were just people who were happy to be invited someplace. I gave them something to do that cost them little-to-no effort. They gave me a feeling of purpose, I guess. Occasionally those people, willing or under duress, brought things to the house, and, sometimes, accidentally left them here, and some of those things are serving dishes or plastic-wear (hence the title of this post), or odd little gifts that were stand-ins for time spent together caring about each other, and no matter what it was, it really has no meaning or love behind its presence here, and it all gotta go.
And so too must my attention, care, concern, and friendship. In the words of Roy Orbison, “It’s over; it’s over; it’s over.”
If I sound angry, that is only the limits of the written word. I’m not at all angry. I’m relieved. I never fit here, and the lack of true friendship was only part of the lack of a good fit. But it took me about 3 years to see it, which is 3 too many, and 3 I’ll never get back. For those lost years I am a little dissatisfied with myself, but, I grew me during that time, and I grew my marriage, and I grew my child, who is really a formed person unto herself, and did not fall apart, but thrived, during the pandemic, and of who I am so very fond of and proud to know. I want to give her better soil to grow in than they have here. And I am exploring my heart’s desires, and reaching for what I want, and I am wholly focused on it.
Time, if the pandemic taught us anything, is not limitless. Maybe it is for a virus, or the universe, but for poor frail humans it is very much a trip that comes to an end. And, maybe the second thing I feel I learned is that when, where, and how that end happens is not in our control. So, up until that ending comes and knocks at your door, you had better be spending all the time you can afford to (meaning all your away from work time) doing things that will make you miss you, when you are gone. And to hell with everything else. I’m certainly going to try to do it, and I’m going to be very imperfect at it, and it’s about damn time I shifted my focus from out-there, and on you or you or you, or that guy, to in here, and on me and we three.
With love to Wes Anderson, for teaching me all I ever needed to learn: