html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: I blew it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I blew it.

I got an email from a good friend last night, saying that she takes my very long email silence as a sign that I am no longer interested in our friendship. She is sorry for whatever it was and thought we were close and her door is always open to me. Crap. I am so sorry. I didn't mean it. I wasn't breaking up with her. I just cannot manage all the friends and family that are far away.

It is like this for me all the time and if I think much about it, it kills me. You know who else I don't talk to nearly enough? My baby sister. My baby brother. My mom. My dad. My grandfather, who was just put in a dementia ward. His wife. You know who else wants my attention? The perfect nephews, who have recently started crying when I leave. Oh god. Babies, I would stay and cuddle you forever, except I can't. If I did, I would still be neglecting my friends in Sacramento. And my friends in L.A. My aunt and cousin in Paris have mentioned that I should write more. I love them all so much. I want to. But oh god. Each mention just tugs on the whole chain of people I should write to even more and I can't start on all that.

For someone who writes as much as I do, and has sought out a whole bunch of imaginary friends, I don't know why I don't contact the people I already have. But their correspondences are hard! They should be good letters*, and have to be within some reasonable time. Why can't they just read this and leave me short quips? Then I could still feel close with them (Claudia and Alysia and eDubin! and Amanda and all y'all who were real first! Represent!).

Anyway, I feel guilty all the time anyway. The real solution is for everyone I love to move very close. Then they should come by all the time without waiting for invitations. That is the real solution. Honestly, that is mostly who I see now. People think that there are secret coded messages in the frequency of my contact, but the real truth is that I see the people who are close to me. Then, having seen them, we make more plans and the cycle is reinforced.

I am sorry, far away friend who took it personally. I did it wrong. I am sorry, family that I am still doing it wrong for. Why did we move apart? How come I must necessarily leave some of you to see the others? I want to give you my attention. I love you. But you are far and it is hard and there are close people I love. I'm doing it wrong, but I can't get it right either. It is broken.

*Even crappy letters are hard. "Well, I sortof moved. [long explanation] Sortof doing new things at work. [long explanation] No, no boys. ['cause I'm still a loser] Factual recounting of things. [boring] Cute story. [why don't they just read the blog for that?]


Blogger Tom said...

I feel like this a lot, myself.

Worst thing is that I feel bad about not being in contact... which makes me not want to talk to people 'cause I feel bad about not talking to people which makes me...

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's interesting how this post so nicely illustrates the modern dilemma of relationships changing from a small number of very fat pipes to a huge number of very narrow ones. I imagine for people like you it's especially difficult: if you're thoughtful, articulate, and value connection, then the ability to achieve easy connection ramps up the number of those connections.

The internet, and the collection of technologies layered on it, essentially drives you to the point where you can't do "justice" to all the relationships you've created. Sort of like a buffet, whose very existence guarantees that I will leave the restaurant feeling worse, through the mechanism of giving me an abundance of things that I really like.

Anyway, I feel your pain. The answer I've arrived at is to value the weak connections, since I don't do a good job of limiting them. Weak connections can be nice *as* weak connections, and should not be viewed merely as developmentally-stunted strong connections. Probably you won't find that satisfying, but it's the best I've got.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realize you are not asking for advice or problem-solving, so I will just say that I sympathize, and that one of the ways I keep in touch is by bringing notecards with me on the train. My train commute is about 20 minutes long, and there is a mailbox at the end of it. It's pretty easy to dash off a brief note. You run out of room on the notecard about the same time as the train pulls into the station. So then you have to mail it -- no waiting to make it perfect, or longer, or include every detail. It's bite-sized correspondence. And people love getting real mail.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I mostly do value the weak connections, or the strong connections that are refreshed when we see each other. I have no problem not talking to Teddy much between visits.

But the kids in my family (and my parents) could take all the love and time I could give them, but they are in separate places. It makes me want to gather them in. Or cry when I keep leaving them.


Witt, that is so awesome. I would LOVE to be sending real mail. But there's no way I could handle escalating to real mail. If I can't even email, and I am on the internets all day...

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't let it defeat you kid... some of this is in your mind [and Tom's and Mine] The mind spirals out of control at the sheer magnitude of the problem, and shuts down. Your friends and relations love you, and you love them. Don't let that stop because the magnitude is so great. Don't allow something small like a lack of a perfect moment deter you. Witt's idea is fabu! But you don't even need to say much. Write the word love on 50 different cards and send them...

Each and every person will know that you are thinking about them, in that very moment.

It is better to say too little, but say something, than to have too much to say, but suffer in silence... at least it seems to me.

Shall we mix our metaphors with heavy lifting? When it gets harder, don't you try harder? The theoretical limit is out there, and when you hit the wall you are done. Does that make you stop lifting forever?

You are just trying to solve for too many variables at the same time, while keeping what must change as a constant. People who you matter to, will understand if you cant talk to them all the time. People who matter to you will get the picture...

Sometimes even the hostess with the mostess, needs to let someone else cook...


7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is distance so important in terms of how it shapes relationships? This isn't a trick question - for you it clearly is, but for other people it is far less so. What is it about distance?

Is it the medium of email? But you don't much like phone either? Why the super strong preference for face-to-face?

8:23 PM  
Blogger billoo said...

Why "solution"? Maybe there isn't always one (which doesn't lessen the pain any). Isn't that always part of what life is-that the heart will be pulled in many different directions?

8:26 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

"I just cannot manage all the friends and family that are far away."

This is why I started blogging, and told everyone to just read the blog.

Now I don't even have time for that anymore....

9:16 PM  
Blogger A. Marigold said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

Oh, there you go. Facebook! Be "friends" with everyone on Facebook, MySpace, etc. -- it totally will help you save on the time and trouble of being friends with them in real life. Just broadcast the same cute LOLcat or other meme to everyone's comments once in a while to let them know that you're alive and thinking of them.

Or, if you want to take a more old-fashioned approach, occasionally forward everyone you know stupid joke emails or dire chain letter warnings about getting waterproof sunscreen in their eyes. That'll let them know you still care.

See! The internets can solve everything!

More seriously, now that you have a cellphone, program everyone's number into it and then whenever you have a couple of minutes of free time (bank line, etc.) call someone and say "hi". Work your way down the list, then start over again at the top. These periodic 5 minute phone calls to check in take significantly less time than being email pen-pals yet often win you as many friend points. Just warn them at the beginning, "I only have a few minutes, but I wanted to check in and see how you're doing." Let them talk about themselves during these calls. If they want to know about you, they can just read your blog, right?

2:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I got an email from a good friend last night, saying that she takes my very long email silence as a sign that I am no longer interested in our friendship."

A little high-maintenance, are we? I notice that she doesn't seem to have written/visited/whatever you in all this time. I believe the psychological term here is "projection."

6:49 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

No no. She did, t_n. I was a flake.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's been a hard part of grad school. People routinely disappear for 1-3 weeks when work calls. I've already lost one friend when I had to go cram for 10 days immediately after we'd had a tiff. Kinda sucks.

8:11 AM  
Blogger bobvis said...

I have a policy of requiring people who want to stop being my friend to tell me explicitly. I don't think I have a whole lot of friends, but I have this same problem of keeping up and I have a ton of e-mails I haven't responded to that I need to...someday. So, it takes a lot more than several e-mails without a response to shut me up. I think we should all adopt this policy. Why infer someone doesn't like you when they don't talk to you when a lack of time is a ready explanation?

5:48 PM  

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