I had one of those experiences this afternoon that hasn’t happened in a long time. And it made me realize that as much as we grow and mature, and move past certain phases of our lives, that some things feel no less icky as accomplished, evolved 40-somethings as they did as insecure teenagers. At least that’s the case for me.
So, this afternoon, I bumped into an old friend from the next town over, who I hadn’t seen in probably 8 or 9 years. Why had I not seen her in so long, you may be wondering? Well, that’s the thing. I have absolutely no idea.
We met at one of those classes you take your toddler to, so they can learn to appreciate art or music, or something (and the classes are usually weekly, which usually ensures that you’ll find time to shower and make yourself presentable at least once a week if you happen to be staying home with the aforementioned toddler) . Matthew was probably about 2, and her daughter was a few months younger. We immediately hit it off, and would spend time together after these classes, and have playdates with the kids at other times. Eventually, we got together with our husbands, and they seemed to hit it off too. We had our second children (both boys) about six months apart.
And then, at some point before Michael turned one, about two years after we met, she stopped calling. Stopped returning my calls. I can take a hint pretty quickly, so after a few times, I gave up and stopped calling too. And didn’t see her again until today.
And while it’s not like I was sitting around waiting for a call from her, I can’t say it didn’t periodically cross my mind. Had I said something offensive? Did she find me annoying? Did she not like my kid or my husband?
When I bumped into her this afternoon, we immediately recognized each other, stared awkwardly for a second or two, and then chatted briefly. I didn’t have Matthew with me, so I showed her a picture. We talked for a few minutes, and then I left. And I wondered as I walked away, did I talk too much? Not ask her enough about how things were with her? Maybe that’s what she found bothersome about me in the first place. It took me to a place I don’t like to go.
I like to think that I’m one of those people who can tell myself, “It’s okay; not everyone is going to like me.” Because truthfully, when someone doesn’t like us, it means that there’s something about what we say, what we do, or who we surround ourselves with that this person just doesn’t enjoy. And frankly, that stings at least a little bit.
This is all probably a good reminder for me, as I raise children who will at some point need learn the tough lesson that no matter how fabulous I think they are, there will sometimes be people who don’t like them. And that hurts. But we move on, try not to look back, and surround ourselves with the people who embrace our personalities (and the quirks that come along with them), laugh along with us, and walk beside us on this journey.