In a Related Way

*Whew* Sorry for that long and angry rant in the last post, I don’t know where that verbose person had been hiding.

Hey, WordPress, why did you change my default font to something that looks like comic sans??? With no discernible way to change it back? It makes me not take myself seriously.

Relationships are funny things. You start off not knowing a person, then exchanging small talk related to whatever situation you happen to be in (work, school, a community meeting, a rehearsal, a stuck elevator — which makes me shudder — etc.) and then you seem to find some common ground, a link that makes you open to getting to know each other better.

Sometimes that succeeds, and sometimes it fails. Sometimes it becomes the best thing that ever happened to you, and sometimes it makes you scratch your head with the “WTF-ness” of it all.

As I get older, I would like to say I’m more selective in my friend-making, but actually I’m just lazy tempered with caution. How many times do you say “Hi-I’m-so-and-so-and-here’s-what-I-do-what-do-you-do-how-long-have-you-done-it-do-you-like-it-why-yes-I’m-yawning-sorry.” I am the WORST at small talk because in my warped brain from my upbringing, it’s nosy to ask questions because it sounds like prying and heaven forbid I pry or my mother will flick me all the way from heaven. By the same token, it’s not good form to talk about oneself lest it sound like bragging, and to avoid that heaven-sent flick I will not talk about myself unless I really know someone well.

That relegates me to the listener corner. (Everybody who knows me who is reading this is probably off in gales of laughter because the idea that I don’t talk much is just so funny. Right? Don’t bother to answer, I KNOW what you’re thinking!) I don’t venture anything until I’ve gotten to know a little bit about the group (or person) I’m with. Usually the way somebody knows they’ve made a connection with me is if I snort softly at a joke they threw out, and often I’m the only one who laughs. Or if I insert (again, softly) a humorous observation on the current topic, just loud enough for me and maybe the person next to me to hear, and they turn towards me with that look of recognition that says “Oh no way! I was thinking EXACTLY the same thing!” and we lol just a bit. Softly, of course. (Again with the hysterical laughter from those who know me. Soft? Hardly. Eternally loud.) But my friends don’t know me when I’m in a new situation.

Relationships with family, however, are way different. Either they’ve been with you since you were born and they are convinced you are only one particular type of person and that is the one they pegged you with when you were four, or they are family that came into your life through marriage, adoption, or other family-making ways. The ones who have been with you since you were born are the relationships that fascinate me the most. It boggles my mind to hear of a family of five sisters and their parents, and they all call each other every day. Every. Damn. Day. What could you possibly talk about every day to each other? “It’s raining here. Is it raining by you? No? I wonder if it’s raining by Mom? Oh, it is? What about our other sister? No? I wonder if it’s raining by the other sister? You don’t know? You didn’t call? That’s okay, I’ll call. What about the other one? Which one? I don’t know. Who is this?” How does that happen? I barely know what to talk about with my husband from Monday-Friday that doesn’t start with “How was work?” and ends with “Do you mind if I go up to bed a little early?” (For some reason, weekends are a different story. The two of us chatter like chipmunks about everything until we hit system overload and then just give each other affectionate looks.)

I also am intrigued by the single-child families. Are they closer to their parents then children with siblings? Who did they fight with? Who did they blame things on? How did they ever get away with anything? Do they end up being more serious adults because nobody gave them a purple nurple in childhood? Or do they bust out of the serious child mode and become a serious party animal to make up for lost time?

My husband and two daughters mean the world to me, and I’m well aware that although we drive each other absolutely crazy from time to time it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t all go to the mat for each other (and we have). There are perhaps three friends that I would also consider family and would do pretty much anything for. On the other hand, I have family members that are so emotionally removed from me that I wonder if I would recognize them in a crowd. There are others that I would like to NOT recognize in a crowd, but I hear that maybe I would be impolite by doing so. Are Thanksgiving and Christmas really obligations for me to welcome said relatives and make small talk? I think I’d rather be stuck in the elevator.

I'm with you, bear.

I’m with you, bear.


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