And When I Was No Longer A Child, I Put Away Childish Things (paraphrased)

The season of summer is a very busy time for most people. As it should be. The weather turns to such a degree that a person is almost required to jump into a vehicle, crank all the windows down (you know, back when windows still cranked) and jam the radio to the highest decibel level one’s ears would allow. It is a time ripe for road trips, camping, canoeing and the various other things a person just can not do in the winter time. Duh. Winter is the opposite. It seems like that should go without saying but in this day and age one never knows.

Like most people, those of us here in the offices of three o’clock java took some time off. Friends, family and followers of the blog may have picked up on the fact that posts have been slightly sporadic. Perhaps summertime wasn’t the most ideal time to begin a new blog but it is what it is.

I had the opportunity to fly back to Michigan and visit with family and friends and my priorities dictated I give them my full concentration as it will be a couple of months until I see them again for another whirlwind visit. For informational purposes I went over 4000 miles via air and car over 8 days. Crazy, right? When people tell me they know the state of Michigan like the back of their hands I want to laugh. I could practically drive that state with my eyes closed at this point. Someday I’ll be able to when we have cars that drive themselves but that’s a post for another day.

While I was gone, and I believe I posted something about this before I left, I had the typical questions. “What’s it like in Florida?” “What do you do all day?” “What’s different down there than up here?”. I believe you get the gist.

The answer to that last question is me. Don’t you love that? In the six months since I have been in Florida I have changed. Perhaps it wasn’t dramatic but there is a difference there. And that was brought to my attention in one of the, perhaps literally, craziest ways I could imagine. I take that back. I couldn’t have imagined what happened while I was gone. Even as a writer of fiction I could not have predicted the ridiculous twist.

Traditionally I tend to hang out with people who are slightly (or more) older than myself. There’s a maturity thing there. I’ve lived a lot of life in my 36 years and I’ve discovered that talking to a nineteen year old can be an exercise in frustration and futility. Technically that’s how it should be.

One of my closest friends turned 50 this year. This is a woman I had great respect for. She raised two boys into men who are now having children of their own. She’s bought her own homes in multiple states and was able to accomplish that on jobs that weren’t worth much more than minimum wage. When she decided it was time to change her life she did exactly that. She rented out her home in Michigan and moved to a new state. She technically reinvented herself. Until she didn’t.

I owe great gratitude to this person. She was lonely and missing family and friends down here. It’s hard when you are 1800 miles away. I can attest to that from previous incarnations of me. When I was ready for a change in my life she was the catalyst that brought me to the Sunshine State. Now it’s my turn to have a hard time being away from family and friends but that’s what I signed up for. There was no fine print at the bottom of the “Change of Life” contract I spiritually signed that said this would be easy. I don’t shy away from a challenge and I believe I’ve embraced the change.

I’ve put away childish things. It’s not anyone’s fault but my own if I’m not happy in my life. It’s my job to make the changes necessary to feel like a healthy human being. I feel like I should say that again.

It is not anyone’s fault but my own if I’m not happy in my life.

The happy side of that is I get all the credit when I am happy with a shout out for the people that assisted me to my goal. The sentence above indicates I am no longer a child and it was time to put away childish things. I’ll end up repeating this ad nauseum (spelling?) throughout this post, I’m sure. I woke up with that phrase bouncing around in my head and I’m going to use it until it goes away.

When I came down here I met someone almost immediately. That’s just the way of things. I’m a friendly person who likes to have fun in every activity. Even working at an insanely busy seafood restaurant where I’m sweating my tuchus off (see previous post on Poise) I’ll be singing a song or bust out into random dance moves. It’s a well known fact about me and anyone who’s worked with me would probably recognize it even if they hadn’t seen me in years.

When I go out to see bands play, or to play the video games at bars or even for the simple task of walking down the street I tend to have a smile and, apparently, an engaging personality. I can talk to anyone. I want to talk to pretty much anyone as I consider it all research. How can I write dialogue if it all sounds the same? I don’t want to write vanilla, I want to write Rocky Road.

So, within two weeks of moving down here I met someone. I am now making a life with that person. That person had also been having a rough go of life lately. He deserved to find a touch of happiness in his life. As did I. I refuse to apologize.

My friend that had brought me here had not been able to find that within herself. The ability to talk to strangers and give them the chance to have an impact on her life. We’re all judgmental, the question is do we let the snap judgments run our lives? For some people, that answer is yes.

My companion loves me. He loves me for what I do right and wrong. The things that annoy him the most are the things he also loves the most. He’s supportive of every thought I chase down the rabbit hole, every sentence that I write, every idea that I have. I didn’t say he agreed with them; he supports them. That’s a huge distinction and very important. I learn from him, he learns from me. It’s a partnership in the truest sense of the word. I’m not saying this to brag though it can seem that way. I’ve never had this in my life outside of family so I’m going to revel in the feeling. A friend is supportive of that and wants to see us happy, yes?

I forgot that I’ve known this person for years. I forgot that they tend to be judgmental and unwilling to learn and that their pettiness can be an art form. I forgot that even people who’ve reached 50 years of age can revert back to high school rumors and innuendo and see absolutely nothing wrong with that.

My friend and I had a misunderstanding. She misunderstood that I do not want people who are not related to me contacting my relatives and asking them to loan her money they do not have. She misunderstood that I do not intend to beggar myself and my companion and not have groceries because she did not plan for something appropriately. She misunderstood that I do not want people contacting my family for favors. If my family can perform a favor for one of my friends, and I think it’s something that is appropriate, I will ask my family for them. I’ll smooth the way. That’s my job. Their job as a friend is to listen to my answers and not go behind my back.

The further misunderstanding occurred when I spent 2 hours typing out a missive that explained my exact feelings on the matter and discontinued the friendship. Loyalty has it boundaries and mine were shattered. I’m sorry, 36 years of family trumps 7 years of friendship. Every time.

So, we had a nice little conversation back and forth and I was left with the impression that, though we would not be friends any longer we would not be ugly towards each other either. Maturity, thy name is age. I wish her the best in life, she does the same for me. That’s the way it is supposed to go, correct?

Instead I am mystified when I return to Florida to discover that someone is spreading rumors about me and my companion. SMH (Smack my head), FP (face meet palm) and we’ll even throw in an OMFG and WTF (Oh my Freaking Goodness and What the Fridge). When I was in high school this was an average Monday morning. You know, back when people still couldn’t believe that she would wear THOSE pants with THOSE shoes?!?

I have a phrase for this. I call it Drama Trauma. When your life is so boring you must create drama to entertain yourself – when you hate your life so much you must bring other people down to your level of self displeasure – it is sad and, I believe, it hurts the discourse human beings should have amongst themselves in order to avoid pointless bloodshed. Or perhaps I’m putting too much into this.

There comes a time when we must realize that we’re beyond the childish things. Do I still have a teddy bear from childhood that has traveled the country with me? Yes. Do I actually carry that thing around with me on a daily basis? No. Mr. Bear remains on a shelf where childish things belong. I can look at him and remember the past but I don’t have to lug that baggage around with me every single day.

I can’t look back and pinpoint the exact day when this changed. I can’t remember when I decided that ending a person’s existence in my mind would accomplish more than letting my brain and mouth go on whatever tangent sounds good at the time.

I can say, with great certainty, that those times are behind me and that a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I will not technically give this person the satisfaction of mirroring their behavior and, thusly, dragging out something that should die a relatively easy death. Notice I don’t say painless. She was a close friend and I’m sad I’ll no longer have that closeness in my life. But does a real friend take what you’ve told them and twist it to damage you? Does an adult?

So yes, as a child I used childish reasoning and believed in childish things. And when I was no longer a child I put away those childish things. But what happens when we’re still children at 50?

Is this what it means to have a society that believes they are victims?

Are the people who can’t take responsibility for their own choices, the people who don’t know how to take that first step away from personal misery, the people who don’t want to learn how to take those steps, are they the ones who are driving the personal image problem people of my generation are having?

Do we need a better marketing plan?

Or do we need to put away childish things?

 

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