I’ve lived over half a century. I’ve had eighteen years of formal education, dozens of jobs, lived in two countries, four cities, and sixteen different homes. I’ve made friends from school, from traveling, through other friends. Over the years I’ve formed friendships with neighbors, parents of my daughter’s friends, people I volunteer with, play sports with, and take workshops with. If I made a list of friends I’ve made over the years — and I’ve tried — it would be hard to capture everyone.
But I am out of touch with many of these friends from over the years. Where have they gone?
I am lucky that I have a partner who is present and engaged. We are often home alone together with the dog and that is a great comfort and security to me. I talk to my mom almost every day and I have a solid group of local friends who I see or talk to regularly.
But I feel out of touch, a little bit lonely. I am in sporadic touch with my four siblings and I miss them. There is no malice; everyone is just busy parenting and working. My sixteen-year-old daughter is off on her own adventure most of the time and when she is home she is aloof, our interactions cursory.
Sometimes when I have a free moment, often in the early morning by myself drinking coffee, I wonder where all of these people in my life have gone? I wonder if I have done something to make them distant. I feel like a tiny ant wandering in a patch of grass underneath the picnic table, trying to find my fellow ants who are feasting away above me. “What is everyone doing up there?” I wonder, “what’s going on?”
Last night a group of family friends got together to celebrate the departure of two college freshmen who are leaving the nest. It was a lovely gathering with four moms and seven kids, all celebrating the two young women who are flying off on a new college adventure. It was delightful and connecting. We were a bunch of ants all together, snacking on a big hunk of chocolate cake.
My daughter, always with other plans, made an effort to be there but I could feel that she had one foot out the door. I felt insulted. Why wasn’t she more engaged, more present for this celebration? I took it personally and I wondered if she was angry with me for making her come to this gathering. I felt myself feeling hurt by her lack of participation.
And I realized that this is often how I feel about my siblings or old friends with whom I am out of touch. I think I have done something to cause the space between us, that somehow I am to blame for the distance and lack of communication. But when I thought about where my daughter was mentally and emotionally I was able to find peace with how she was acting. She is sixteen. She was sitting on the edge of her seat halfway in because she had a party to go to, an outfit to plan, mascara to apply and friends to text to finalize plans.