A conversation with an old camp friend had me digging out my photo album tonight. Looking through it I saw that I had taken a few letters from friends (okay, boys) and left them in with the pictures. For some reason, it all of the sudden broke my heart. The same way that I realized I haven’t added pictures to my regular album since 2009.
I used to say things to people, intimately. They may not not been intimate things that I said, but I said them with my own handwriting and I said them just to one person. I used to print and place pictures carefully, chronologically, telling the story of our lives in tangible form.
I have pictures of myself in groups, leaning on others of pulling them in. I have memories of hour long, uninterrupted conversations with friends that didn’t leave me drained or feeling like I had to forfeit something to have it.
I have friends that I keep up with. I know their children’s names and what they looked like on their first day of school and I know the struggles and successes that my friends choose to share via social media. I know our history as friends. I know their parents and siblings and their pets. But I don’t actually know how they are doing or what they are doing intimately. I can probably guess and with most of my oldest friends, I could probably be in ball park range. But that just doesn’t feel good enough.
I remember asking my mom why she didn’t hang out with her friends anymore and she cited something like ball schedules and people being busy and I thought that was the lamest excuse ever. But it was probably exactly what happened. People got busy and felt like whatever they had left should be given to their family, their home, or maybe even their self.
But I see people who are still hanging out with one another and wonder if they know some secret I don’t. Maybe their kids are different ages. Maybe they have free local babysitters (I used to have one of those, it was amazing). Maybe they just don’t get overwhelmed with the whole ordeal of getting out of the house without their kids. Maybe they also have money to burn (or invest) on babysitters and nights out.
You know what else I used to do? Post almost everything I wrote. Regardless of how coherent it was or if it fit the “brand” I was trying to build (let’s be honest, I’ve sucked at that thus far anyways). So tonight, I’m one good cry, two glasses of wine, and the last handful of the cheese puffs into this and I think I’ll just go ahead and print “publish”.
Because you know what else? I can be really good at not talking to anyone. I swear, I’ve had days where I literally only spoke when spoken to. And then I just crawled back into my head. And then I didn’t write anything, not on paper, not online, nowhere.
I wrote this once, in a poem:
Silence has become this
with nothing else to adjust to-
ideas turn to truths.
Silence can lull you to a stillness that is beautiful but if that stillness is never disturbed, then it just becomes a tomb. If no one ever lifts you from your solitude, then it transforms to loneliness. Of course, if no one knows you’re all bound up, no one can know to come and change that.
I wrote this too
if you want to know the truth –
look at all the words i don’t say,
look for everything you can’t find on this screen.
for all the voices i have,
none of them can say these things,
none of them can tell
what all the spaces between the lines are saying,
what secrets the quiet places know.
and i almost,
shape the words against my tongue
and deliver them to someone
can no one hear the silence?
Community is essential to being well and living well, Almost more than anything else. And yet, I’m one of those annoying people who can feel completely alone in a room full of people that she loves and knows. I mean, that’s annoying, isn’t it? I crave intimacy, but try to avoid it on my end. Like, I’ll delve into intimacy with you, about your life or whatever, but turn the conversation on me and I’ll just redirect back to you. That’s great strategy for that mental health work I used to do, but otherwise in my real life, it’s just fear, distrust, and a power struggle.
How did old camp pictures get me here? It was the letters really, not the pictures. I used to try more, give more on my end. I reaped the rewards of that in turn with relationships that felt deep and meaningful and fun.
I’m an introvert, a Scorpio, a writer – I’m sure in some ways I’ll always be private, distant, weird, loner-esque. But I’d like to not be that way all the time. It’s too quiet in here now.