My Mom used to recite a ditty from her school girl days to me that went like this: “Tell me quick, before I faint; Is you is, or is you ain’t?”
Now bear in mind that my mother’s school days were in the late 1920’s and 30’s. But this simple little rhyme is a child’s way of asking, “Are you my friend or aren’t you?”
I find it disconcerting that this childish plea runs through my mind today. I’m not a young school girl.
I’m a fully grown college-educated woman with a meaningful part-time job at a non-profit organization, married for almost 33 years, in the “down slide” of my 50’s. I’ve raised three adult children; experienced a couple different careers; been an Army wife and a stay at home mom holding my family together while my husband’s career required frequent overnight travel, and in the span of 20 years, I’ve moved to four different states to live.
Making friends has never been difficult for hubby and me. Until now.
Remember that my hubby is the early riser and the usually chipper morning person between the two of us. This morning as he was shaving, I awakened to hear him mumbling and grumbling to himself in the mirror.
I laughingly called out, “You talking to yourself?” He sheepishly admitted he was. Then he sat down on my side of the bed to tell me what was on his mind. The gist of it was that if I ever hint to him that I am ready to move away from the homeland, he’d be ready to go.
Whoa. Let me explain why he said that. The last couple years, my husband and I have attended social gatherings where we both felt, for lack of a better explanatory phrase, “that we didn’t belong.” We’ve met people who we thought were friends, but obviously weren’t interested in pursuing friendships with us and that has become painfully evident to us. Let me interject here by stating that my hubby is not the most sensitive, easily offended person, so you know when a man notices we’re treated indifferently, there is a problem.
Lately, we’ve experienced a disconnection on more than one level (see my earlier blog entitled “Connectivity” for more insight into that) and friendships here have been one of those disconnects.
In all the places we previously resided, we made friends easily and those friendships proved to be long-lasting relationships. We still have friends from our military days, friends from old neighborhoods, friends from churches we’ve attended, and I have childhood friends I’ve never lost. Some of you who read my blog are those people. We became friends long, long ago and you are still treasured friends of ours even though there are miles and miles that separate us.
So the problem is not that we are unfriendly and can’t cultivate or maintain friendships. We also don’t think that we are “Debbie and Donnie Downer” either; we know how to have fun and we like it too!
It’s not that we don’t have any friends. We both have friends at work and we have many acquaintances, but when it comes to friends to call up at the spur of the moment and say, “Hey, come on over to our house tonight,” or “Want to go to the movies with us?” — not so much. So we are perplexed about our situation.
We’ve analyzed the problem and constructed some possible explanations. My hubby is a quiet, reserved kind of guy, contrary to the nature of the job positions he’s held, where it’s perceived you must be a very out-going, talkative kind of person. He’s worked diligently in his career because he isn’t naturally a glad-hander.
It doesn’t mean he’s not fun; it doesn’t mean he lacks social skills; it doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to have a good time, and it doesn’t mean people dislike him. He’s just not going be the life of the party. So we’ve wondered, is that it?
Or do people mistake his reticence for arrogance? If so, they are totally misjudging him because my hubby is the least arrogant person I’ve ever met. He has a true servant’s heart and people who really know him realize that.
Several years ago, we moved back here to my homeland – small town rural area – where I was raised and yet, my husband sometimes feels like an “outsider.” He grew up in a city, not the suburbs, not the country, but in a row house where his front stoop met the sidewalk and that met the street, where his back yard was bricked and there was no grass (that’s why he loves to be outside gardening and working in our two acre yard). He did not grow up hunting, fishing, or farming. Is that it? Are rural people so narrow-minded that they can’t discuss things you don’t necessarily have in common? No, we don’t believe that for a minute.
These two observations about my husband could, I suppose, be the cause of our limited friends state, but here’s the rub. I did grow up here; I am a little more outgoing and talkative, and I’m an easy person to get to know. If hubby’s personality or the fact he’s not a homeland native is the problem, shouldn’t my personality and/or being a “homelander” compensate for that? I don’t think people dislike me and if I’ve ever offended anyone, I try my hardest to make amends, yet I’ve never in my life had such a difficult time connecting with other people.
So what is it? We honestly don’t know. Could it be that we were so accustomed to living in the suburbs where friends were easily accessible, sometimes right next door, that we just aren’t suited to rural life? We don’t think that’s the case and we truly love our peaceful life here in the country.
Is it just one more of those empty nest adjustments to wrestle and contend with? Maybe.
Tell me what you think – “tell me quick before I faint!”