Saturday, March 19, 2011

I wonder if I will always be the one who's outside looking in?

I am back from a few days away with my kids and my mom and stepdad and  lot of time spent cursing at my Blackberry as I tried to FIND PLACES and LOOK THINGS UP and FIGURE THINGS OUT. My blackberry and I were not working well together, that is for sure. It was all elbows bumping and knobby knees and awkward. Everything felt awkward, until I realized sometime in the middle of the second day that when I am with my mom, I feel like I am right back in junior highschool. Not in a good way. It's like my kids are actually my siblings and mom wishes we would all get better table manners and work on our posture.

Here is how I remember 9th grade. My underwear on a tree. That pretty much sums it up. We went on a class trip, and one day I looked out the window of the hostel and my underwear was hanging on a tree. And everyone thought it was fucking hysterical, and I was laughing - a bit - until I realized that it was not even clean underwear. And then it was just totally not funny anymore and I was mortified. And I still feel like that most of the time. The weird kid. Only now, I'm a grown up.

Being grown up is not quite the revelation I had expected and hoped for and counted on. I don't have a fabulous career or a fancy home. I still feel weird and awkward. I spend a lot of time napping and reading facebook and wondering why I am not doing all of the fun stuff other people are doing, and being successful and pretty and fertile. I spend the rest of the time trying not to embarrass myself, because I do like to do THINGS and go PLACES and plan STUFF. Many times people who know me stand around and watch and I know they are thinking to themselves "What the *fuck* is she doing?" But they accept it as me being, well, me. And then they excuse themselves and go back to their normal jobs and organized lives and wonder what the hell is wrong with me, anyway.

People who do not know me stand around with their mouths hanging open thinking to themselves "What the fuck is she doing?" And then they shake their heads (in sadness or digust - I haven't examined it that closely) and they edge away so as not to be associated with my silliness.

The effect of this is to make me always feel slightly uncomfortable. Something will sound like a great idea, and I will happily throw myself full-on into whatever it is. And then someone will walk by and say "Uh, what are you doing?" or better "Why are you doing that?" and I will come crashing back down to earth.

OR I will have a really great idea, or want to ask someone a question, and I will send them a text or an email and be met with.....silence. No response at all. This especially happens with people who do not know me - for instance: other bloggers. I will email them with a question - about their hometown, say - and receive nothing in response. And then I realize that my email full of what I thought were witty questions, actually had the appearance of a crazy overbearing internet weirdo, and that these poor people who don't know me do the internet equivalent of shaking their heads and edging away.

Which is a reminder of why I hesitate to reach out to people I don't know in real life. In fact, this is why I still haven't gone to a blogging conference. Because I remember the emails I have sent that have never been responded to and I will do anything to avoid introducing myself to someone and having their eyes flash with recognition when they hear my name: "Oh" they'll think "that's the weird one who sent my that email asking to meet and go rollerskating in San Francisco! Oh dear lord, no sudden moves, just back away slowly. Sloooowly, now. And find security."

The fear of rejection is all-encompassing. And sometimes I miss out because of that hesitation. And not just in the theoretical, hypothetical situations that I have thusfar avoided.

A mom and I talked about getting together for a playdate during vacation. This is one of those glamorous moms with a career and a life and I stood there in my dirty jeans, barefoot, with a hat on because I hadn't shampooed that day, and I gave her my number and took down hers, but then I didn't text her. Because I didn't want to bother her, didn't want to be overbearing or needy or pushy. And she, of course didn't call me. Because, I reasoned, she was just being polite when we were talking about the playdate. She has much better things to do and more glamorous places to be then sitting in my tiny livingroom in my ghetto neighborhood sipping tea. Right? Just let her edge away, Daffodil. Don't make it weird at school by calling and texting and forcing her to find an excuse not to hang out.

I am absolutely 100% shocked every time someone contacts me and asks me to do something with them. It's as though I am forever going to be that 14 year old girl out in the wind and the rain, picking my underwear out of the tree while my classmates stand inside and watch me, laughing hysterically.

But this morning I steeled myself, and texted her, inviting her kid over for a playdate. She responded, and actually said she didn't text because she didn't want to seem pushy. And I stood there with my stupid Blackberry and my mother and my kids in my ghetto house and I laughed. I laughed because I was relieved that she wasn't just being polite when she took my number last week. And I laughed that anyone could ever be afraid to bother the girl who's underwear is hanging on the shrub outside.

I think that as adults, many of us still feel the outsider. And I wonder how many of us are missing out on wonderful things because we are too nervous to try, or make excuses because we are too busy to make time. I wonder how many of us are just sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, for the invitation in the mail, for the mother on the next bench at the playground who looks really nice to come and sit by you and stick out her hand and say "Hello. Let's be friends."


STATJR said...

O... M... G... I understand completely! I have commented on a few of your posts but often I don't because I don't want you to think I am some "internet werido" or pushy.

I ALWAYS tell my friends if you want me there, you have to invite me because I do not ever feel right just showing up!


Zach Oat said...

Did I ever thank you for coming and pulling me off of the floor of the cafeteria on my first day of high school and sitting me at an actual table with actual people? I eventually made my own friends, but you gave me a crutch to get through those first couple of months. Because I was the weird one You weren't weird, you were awesome, and anybody who treated you as weird obviously felt threatened by you. But that didn't stop every one of my weird new friends from crushing on you.

And I love your house. I want your awesome house. And not just because it's in Maui. I haven't been there in a while, but I loved how you kept it, and the location, and it was beautiful. Also, I just want your husband to move in with us, and make our house awesome. We still have some outlets that don't work.

And a career's not everything. You don't think every boring workaholic doesn't want to be the cool mom that you are? Screw that noise.

Hobocamp Crafts said...

I agree with my husband! and besides you are a roller girl who the hell in their right mind wouldn't want to be that?! Aside from that you are an awesome mom and if we lived closer- I would be at your house everyday with Hazel and we could wreak havoc. I was made fun of from middle school till probably currently as we speak, but to hell with it! I say go for it- if that fabulous person thinks you're weird it is prob b/c they are some damn puritan who has never made a 1st move themselves. You are awesome, so just move to NY already!

smiles :) said...

I totally, totally can relate, especially getting all excited about some new project and then someone brings you down with their logic and rational thinking! I'm 31, and I thought by now that I would have grown out of my socially awkward, nervous what other people are thinking about me phase... Might never happen! Though I am learning to embrace my oddities, embarrassments and all.. gradually :) Fabulous post!

Anonymous said...

V. Listen to your sibling & sibling-in-law. They know.