Tag Archives: age

Friendships Age Too

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Everyone always talks about romantic relationships and how difficult they are–the compromising, the settling, how hard it is to be single, how hard it is to be married, blah blah blah.

No one ever really spends too much time gabbing about how difficult friendships can be. Friendships are supposed to be easy, right? Comfortable, lasting longer than any romantic relationship you’ve ever had. I guess that used to be true.

Somewhere around Real Adult Life (not Fake Adult Life), you realize how tough friendships can actually be. Hangouts no longer consist of last minute happy hours that turn into long, carb-filled dinners that turn into late-night pillow talk and accidental sleepovers. Hangouts now have to be planned weeks in advance. Alcohol and carbs are out because someone is on an insane diet. Late nights and accidental sleepovers are out because someone has to wake up early for work or get home ASAP to a baby or a husband or a boyfriend. Suddenly, you’re not a priority in their life anymore–you’re third or fourth fiddle, at best.

At some point, jobs and men, raises and promotions and…men became more important than keeping up with what you’ve been cooking for dinner or watching on Netflix…GASP?! It’s normal, I know. But that doesn’t make it suck any less.

The worst part is, you want to be happy for them, you TRY your damnedest to be happy for them…but mostly, you just feel deflated. There was a time in my life when I talked to my friends every day (usually multiple times a day). Questions like, “Hey, did you wind up buying that necklace?” have turned into “Hey, how’ve you been?”

I’ve never been one of those 27 Dresses types–I’ve always had a close-knit pack of two or three women who were more like sisters to me. I’m currently down to…one. Insert the *eek!* emoji. Yeah. One bestie who keeps up with my woes pretty well–not like she used to, but still pretty well.

Is it because she and I are the only single ladies of the once-wolf-pack? Perhaps. But more likely, it’s because we’ve been best friends since we met in middle school, when she saw me bleeding from my knees and lip and asked if I was OK (ridiculous Spanish Dancing Club incident). Hopefully, she’ll be my person forevs, but let’s be real…she could turn into a Husband-Hungry villain at any moment… That, folks, will be the day I adopt a handful of pets and babies or move to an island and live out the rest of my days befriending only coconuts.

Anyway, I’m getting off track here, I apologize. I have a few acquaintance-types who are fun, but they’re seeking the same thing I am–people to fill in the gaps leftover by once upon a time best friends, sisters. It’s great to have people who you can share a meal with, but it’s crazy to feel like you don’t have anyone to tell the deep, dark stuff to.

It can be pretty lonely, here in adulthood. No wonder people kept getting married even after property promises and dowries weren’t a thing anymore–it’s the only way of ensuring that you won’t slip and die in the shower, your remains left rotting under an enormous water bill for weeks. I kid, I kid.

How do we keep friendships, even after X, Y, or Z? How do we balance other life obligations with these people who know way too much about us? How do we remain understanding, even after being shoved aside to make room for “more” or “different” or “better”?

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Growing Old

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        I wrote the following when I was staying with my grandmother in San Antonio last year. She’s one of the best people I’ve ever met–full of stories–my favorite kind of person is one who is full of stories. But she’s also probably the loneliest person I’ve ever met. I’ve realized that I’m not afraid of aging. I’m afraid of the combination of old and lonely and divorced and depressed and stuck in a place I despise, full of stories. My grandma is a writer; I am a writer. She and I both love books and judging people and Luby’s (almost as much as we love books, to be honest). I guess that’s the way it is with family. There are so many things (whether you realize them or not) that you’re already emulating or you want or wish you could emulate…but then, in other ways, you strive to be that person’s utter opposite. It has sadly become one of my life goals, to be yellow where she is black. But I know she would approve.
         I am learning about growing old. My grandma teaches me about it every Monday and Wednesday, when I spend the night to save a little gas. She lives right by my office, in the same house she’s been in since she was young and working, having babies, married, and happy from what I hear. Now it’s the same house, but empty and stale, just her and two snoring dogs and one annoying, chirping bird. It used to be filled with laughter and cooking. Now it’s filled with stuff…stuff that she stares at and then says, “I wonder who will ever want this once I’m gone…” Stuff like her teapot collection, her spoon collection, her stamp collection, and her Princess Diana doll.
          I always say, “Grandma, you don’t even need to be thinking about that, it’s too early,” even though I know it’s not. And now the only cooking she does is toast with blackberry jam. She drinks her tea, eats from a tin of English cookies, and always has a full bowl of fruit on the table ready to be a centerpiece for the guests who never come. I am learning about growing old.
          “I like your sunglasses,” she says in such an innocent voice, begging me to love her, listen to her, be her friend, pay attention to her, notice her. She laughs at all my jokes and tells me about things she read in the newspaper or saw on TV. She is so much like her youngest granddaughter, although they are 80 years apart.
          On love life, she’s bitter and cold. She tells me about her only true love, buried in England, never really knowing how she felt. Her pale blue eyes are lost in 60+ year-old memories, forgetting I’m there. At that moment, I wish with all my might that she’s right in believing that Heaven exists, just so she’ll get to tell him, to be with him. She believes in God but not love. I believe in love, but not God. I’m worried that time will switch these beliefs.
          She tells me things I shouldn’t know about my Papa. I’d rather have the facade of some people. She tells me about being alone for over 40 years now. “Who would’ve wanted someone like me anyway? Too old, too poor, and four kids. It was too much.” She scares me, she’s created a fear inside of me–of pining after a grave of I-wonders and what-ifs. I am learning about growing old.
          She criticizes the world without hesitation. “People just used to be nicer, better,” she says over breakfast, as she scans headlines. “Things just used to be so much simpler,” she says when I explain my marketing job. “You know, you used to be able to go to the store and find all the good brands. Now the stores all have their own brand and that’s all you can find,” she says, shaking her head sadly at a box of blueberry muffins. “But your generation doesn’t care about that kind of stuff, do you?” I shrug my shoulders and grin.
          What am I supposed to say to that? I want to say, “No, we don’t. It’s cheaper and it tastes the exact same.” But I don’t want to shatter any protective walls. She’s built them up around her for decades. You can almost see the cloud of pessimism and depression around her. She hates this country, she hates this time period, and she hates store brands. I am learning about growing old.

Happiness=Groceries(x) ?

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The grocery store seems to be the only place where one can feel completely alone, yet completely free at the same time.

I look at the boy, my age, carrying a bowl of poke in one hand and a 7-Up in the other. Two hands; two items. His skateboard is tucked under an arm like an afterthought. If he is a boy, I am undoubtedly a girl.

I look down into my basket, hoping to see something more respectable, anything that doesn’t scream, “I AM SINGLE AND POOR AND I AM GOING TO GO EAT THIS RAW FISH AND DRINK THIS 7-UP IN FRONT OF THE TV PLAYING VIDEO GAMES ALL NIGHT.” I see a gallon of milk, three apples, and a carton of eggs. I am no better. I am single, I am poor. These are the only items that ever seem to need refilling in my lonely, clean kitchen. It’s a big day when my cart holds slick chicken breasts, a rain stick of spaghetti noodles, or an icy bag of broccoli. It’s sad how big those days are.

Today I wheel toward the check-out line, mulling over the boy and his purchase. How amazing. To go into Foodland every single day maybe, just to buy that night’s dinner. Tomorrow, maybe he’ll go with bagel bites and a water. I could see that. The point is, it’s beautiful—to be careless, to be selfish.

I won’t always have this kind of choice (well, maybe I will, but most likely and hopefully no). There will be a day when grocery shopping means thinking of someone else’s wants, needs, and allergies ha! One day, cooking won’t mean leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. Maybe I won’t be able to avoid meatloaf, sauerkraut, or olives. Maybe I won’t be able to add mushrooms and tomatoes to every single dish I create. The truth is, it’s nice, cooking for someone—seeing a familiar smile after that first bite, feeling mischievous arms around your hips as you stir.

There will be a day in which my grocery cart may in fact hold another human being. Scary thought, makes me cringe currently. But it’s true.

However, at the moment, I am incredibly, undeniably free. If I wanted, for a month straight I could live off the year-old Ramen and oatmeal packages that are cowering in the corner of my pantry. This is a time in my life that I should soak up and photograph, rejoice in its liberty.

And yet…I see the family in front of me, their basket overflowing with oddities I’ve never given a glance (diapers, dinosaur shaped macaroni, formula). I see their teeth, their glow, their hands squeezing. I could reach out and touch the happiness if I wanted.

I can’t help but wonder: is bliss inversely related to the emptiness of a grocery cart?

I look again at my milk, sweating onto the green plastic bottom of my basket. Perhaps.

Then the baby starts wailing, simultaneously causing 20+ magazines to crash to the tiled floor with one sweep of her miniature leg. I head to the Express Checkout, biting my lip to keep from laughing in relief. Perhaps not.