Here’s a fact about me (I know you were dying to read one): I’ve never had many close friends. Let me explain. I always have a few people I can talk to and do stuff with. But I think I always wanted to have a group of close friends who could get together and talk, travel, and share experiences. The couple of times I’ve tried that have made it clear in no uncertain terms that I’m not cut out to do that and will end up being “that member” that everyone talks about behind their back and wishes would stop showing up (hello, yarn store clique; I still like many of you as individuals). No wonder I have so much sympathy for the pariahs in my social circle and keep doing my best to be kind to them.
Why is this relevant?
Well, over the past weekend, I watched as a couple of groups of people from work went on fabulous trips and had fabulous times together. I found myself wishing I could go along. These are friend groups I tried to be in, but didn’t fit in. Yep, I had a bit o’ jealousy. I’ve always wanted to be a member of a close group of friends that were drawn together because of shared bonds, not because they are members of the same club or somehow paid to be together.
Maybe this all stemmed from when I was a kid growing up, when our neighborhood was a merry band of young folks who did everything together, regardless of our differences and actually cared about each other (I feel warm when I remember how the autistic child, Gay, came along with us wherever she could, and stood on the sidelines, rocking back and forth, but a part of the group; of course we had never heard of autism).
I’m mulling over some thoughts right now, but am in an uncharacteristically frazzled state. It’s been that way all day!
Every errand and small work task I did got wonky. At least I retrieved my remotes I’d left in my rental car before vacation. But I set the GPS to go to the wrong Enterprise office.
I tried to save time and money and make some special gifts for Christmas, but it turned out the woman at the store had not put them together. And didn’t know how. After ruining two presents, I brought all the parts home. Now I’m not saving much time. But they will be done right.
Earlier in the week, a series of events unfolded in a group, the details of which are irrelevant. The outcome is where I’m focusing today. As people interacted, the scene became more and more like ones I went through very frequently when the organization I was working for was undergoing a crisis. And it was hard on the participants.
I needed to provide input, redirect the conversation, or in some way diffuse the situation, but I could not. I mentally froze up, as I retreated into a way of feeling and acting from over a decade ago. I didn’t get memory flashbacks, but my emotions went into overdrive and I could FEEL the atmosphere at my old job when volunteers I directed and others at the organization were engaged in unpleasant and unproductive exchanges.
I was triggered, I guess. My current set of coping mechanisms helped me, at least a little. I didn’t burst into tears or run out of the room, like I might have over a decade ago. Instead, I played a word game on my phone, since all my life I’ve coped with being overwhelmed by doing something with my hands (hence all that knitting and playing of Bejeweled). I find that when a good chunk of my brain is busy on a soothing task, I can make better use of the rest of the ole noggin.
Yesterday was Kindness Day, in honor of Fred Rogers. While I didn’t wear a cardigan, I thought of him and of my efforts to be kind throughout the years. Sometimes it isn’t easy, as I have painfully discovered over the past few days, but it’s worth it. Please, friends, even when you are displeased with someone, let them know with kindness and empathy.
Yes! One of my long-time (and I mean long…at least 25 years) email friends was in Austin, and Anita and I went to have dinner with her. Andi has always been a great participant in a group of women who started out as feminists who chose to stay home to raise their children. We’ve been together through ups and downs, starting and restarting careers, divorces, and triumphs. So, it was great to see her in person.
We went to a new place right across from the JW Marriott in Austin, called Fareground, where a number of nice restaurants have places you can order food, and then take them to tables to eat. A bar server wanders around to see if you want wine or anything. The setting is really pretty, and it must be a lot of fun when you can sit outdoors.
Kathy P., one of my roommates on the trip, and I were up bright and early on our last day in New Orleans, because the pharmacy museum she really wanted to see would finally be open (she’s a lactation consultant and wanted to see the birth-related stuff). It was mighty cold but off we went through the freezing streets of a city just waking up (many food delivery trucks for all those restaurants). Brr, it was cold and windy.
Many of the French Quarter houses have beautiful hidden courtyards. I’m glad to have seen this one.
We then discovered the museum opened at 10, not 9, so we found a coffee shop and warmed up. It was a PJ’s. Their theme is that they invented the locally roasted beans and pastries idea long before Starbucks. It was good coffee, anyway.
This is the “sick bed” display. To the right are ancient urinals, shown in detail below.
I made a quick stop at the yarn shop to get a printed copy of the complicated pattern I bought (PDF on phone was not cutting it). The lady was great about it, and we had a nice chat. Then I joined Kathy at the cool 1825 house where the pharmacy museum was.
There was display after display of some awful things they used to do to people, like amputation saws and HUGE things they stuck in your nose for reasons I don’t know. And a lot of poisons in jars, which you can see below.
Even if you aren’t interested in drugs and potions, this place is cool. The display cabinets were gorgeous, and there were amazing windows in the stairway going to the second floor.
The windows looked out on one of those typical New Orleans courtyards, which is apparently maintained by some courtyard maintenance group.
Yesterday was a beautiful day in New Orleans. It was mostly sunny and in the 70s outside. Too bad I did not step outside the hotel until after dark, and then it was just to go across the street to eat dinner. Guess what I had?
The reason I stayed in the hotel all day is that the fun trip was over, and it was time for our annual Board meeting. In the morning, trip attendees joined us to give us input on how the trip went and suggest places to go next. It was great to hear how much fun people had and how smoothly everything went. It was a HARD slog planning this trip, but in the end, the trip planners (with a lot of help by the Board President) got it done.
I’m very glad I am not a professional trip planner, and tip my hat to my friends who are!
Yes, yes, I’m still in New Orleans with the Friends of La Leche League on their bonding trip. Today was the day of less history and more typical tourist stuff. However, I managed to have fun.
In the morning, people mingled and bonded until time to walk (if you were fit) to the Steamboat Natchez, which is the only steam-powered paddle-wheeler in use in New Orleans.
There, we were treated/blasted to an actual steam calliope concert. It was fun to watch the steam coming out for each note.
On the boat, we had a brunch, which was adequate, and good jazz music (though one DOES weary of “When the Saints Go Marching In” around here). Since you couldn’t see a dang thing during the meal, I got out of the dining room as fast as I could to see the river.
When I was a teenager in a tourist destination (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida area), I sure didn’t like tourists. They showed up and drove strangely, got horrible sunburns, and asked ignorant questions. Grr. They filled “our” restaurants.
I currently spent half my time in another tourist destination, where natives carefully avoid downtown or our beautiful parks during certain times of the year, since so many people show up to party and have fun at festivals. We grumble, but know the economy needs it.
Right now I’m the tourist in New Orleans. I have done tourist activities like bus tours that crowd the streets, and walking tours that crowd the sidewalks. I sure wouldn’t want to live where my house is photographed by people like Suna all day long. Certainly living in the French Quarter would require a special patience.
I see tourists wandering around getting blitzed and screeching about things, and they are contributing to the economy, I guess.
Then I see our group asking question after question to learn more about the area. I see us making connections in local shops (I bought yarn!). This is good tourism, as far as I’m concerned.
Getting in touch with your emotional truth, by processing feelings to improve the human condition in the 21st century. Living out loud by my motto,"Triumphing over Trauma" 🌈
In light and in shadow, always with ❤