Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lesson to Learn - 3

Another friend in Toronto that I got to see, albeit briefly, made me dinner my first night there. He was so kind and thoughtful. He's been on a naturopathic diet, you know the kind where you eliminate certain foods and then try them again to see how you react. He made me a beautiful healthy dinner and it was like being at a restaurant. Serving and sharing good food to someone can be such a loving act. We talked and talked and made some tentative plans to hook up later in the week. Which didn't happen through one miscommunication or another. He also doesn't have a cell phone which doesn't help matters. As my plans changed, I couldn't reach him when he was out. Yes, I know, what a nerve I have of expecting people to rearrange their lives to suit my brief visit. How many friends do you have that have known you for years and still like you anyway? They become like family. But not family in the obligation sort of way, but the "you're a part of me" kind of way. When you live thousands of miles away from them, you just crave being with them. You want to soak them in and blab with them so you can soak in the experience and live with that until you see them again.

He's been dealing with a chronic disease for years, consequently staying healthy is a full time job. He has energy to go out during the day, but often stays at home in the evenings. He admitted to becoming quite the hermit, which I found disturbing because he's a natural extrovert who over the years has taught me to just go out and have fun and meet people and be a part of the world. Maybe it's a natural consequence of becoming older and wiser, you've been there and done that, and there's no place like your own cubby-hole. I also know that money is often an issue and if you can't afford cab fare or bus fare to someplace, you just learn to live within your own few blocks. So not having a surplus of energy or money (or control over either) can chip away at your world. I am grateful for my good health.

Which brings me to another lesson I learned. Let people love you. Let your friends hold your head when you throw up and pay your cab fare when they want to see you. Your real friends are the ones who will do this for you. Some will walk your dog and others will take you on vacation. Some will spend what little they have on really good food or champagne to treat you, some will let their husbands get them trips and spending money when they can't afford to do that for themselves. It can be seen as not being dependent or needy or just taking care of yourself on your own terms. Or it can be seen as denying people the opportunity to gain good karma by doing good deeds, repaying debts of gratitude, or get brownie points with God, however you want to put it. It can be seen as denying someone the opportunity to be a good friend. And that hurts.

I wanted to see my friends and get my hair done... which frankly cost me more time than I could afford. Another lesson. I spent 2 1/2 hours travelling to and from a place to get hair (which by the way was a very interesting adventure), waited over an hour with the hair dresser who forgot her key(!) to the salon. (By the time I got back to the hotel, I had missed my nieces and nephew. Don't ask why they didn't wait 20 minutes when they knew I was doing my hair.) But I'm a black woman who has not gained freedom from her hair. Yet. If you don't get this, ask a black woman how much time and money she has spent on her hair. (Do not, I repeat, do not touch her hair.) And if you don't know any, look at Oprah. She's had a full time stylist for years. I will have my East LA/Jane & Finch do for about a month after which I will have to jump into the tiny wading pool of stylists they have here. Leaving town to get your hair done is not unheard of.

Anyways, the dog awaits, my hair looks good and I love and miss my friends.


Guera! said...

I was told a long time ago by a friend that I wouldn't let people love me. At the time I had no idea what he meant but now I do. I am such a fiercly private person outside of blogdom that sometimes I have to tell myself to let people in sometimes...let people care about me.
Another great post. Thanks for the peek into your life.

luna said...

sounds like you had a wonderful visit.

it's true sometimes we don't let people do for us because of our own issues. excellent lesson. haven't had that problem lately. not many offers for support IRL. sigh.

Wordgirl said...

Let people love you.


This post resonated with me -- I'm not a natural extrovert -- and so often am with my dog and my own company...but there is something so powerful about that connection -- being in the world -- and sometimes it takes someone's friendship to teach us. G has an issue with this -- he doesn't let people do things for him...and I keep trying to tell him that to refuse their kindnesses because you think its putting them out -- is really refusing their open heart.

Did you ever see the Oprah show about finances and the woman who was telling that skinny Jean Whathername that clearly she didn't understand black women and their hair if she didn't get the budget allowance for getting her hair done?

My students taught me so much -- and part of our discussions would often arise over images of beauty and hair.

I'm certain your hair looks fabulous -- and me? I will go pay outrageous money for a good hair cut and color.

dmarie said...

Wonderful post! Why is it sometimes tougher to let love in than it is to give it?

I totally get the hair issue. I too have not gained freedom from I don't even think it's possible.

Pamela T. said...

I just bookmarked this post so I can come back to it -- as I have other posts you've written with valuable lessons.

I think the reason I've held quite people at arms length or not let them help me is that to do so would admit how vulnerable and helpless I became through dealing with infertility. It was ironically enough out of emotional self protection.

It's taking longer than I expected but I'm starting to get closer to some (mostly friends with kids) that I've pushed away because sometimes it just hurts too much to be in their presence with their children.