just hand me down, give me a place to be
Somehow, another Thanksgiving week is over. The last few of my friends visiting from out of town left today. It's been fun breaking bread with familiar faces again, but to be honest with you I am also quite looking forward to the peace and tranquility of my normal schedule. I love spending time with my friends and wish they could all live here permanently, but the craze of trying to see ten different people (with their own conflicting schedules) in the span of a week is something I could do without. (It's funny, yesterday my friend was telling me that he would miss the quiet tranquility of the past week in suburbia. Quiet? The last week was the most busy I'd been in months!)
As the years go by I find myself on the receiving end of less and less intentioned effort to hang out from some of my friends (in general, but it's significantly more noticeable when they are less than five miles from me). This lack of (perceived) effort makes me swing between sad disappointment and quiet acceptance. One of my friends told me she thought this was an issue of problem solving, and that I should try to bring it up to be solved collaboratively. I'm not sure I agree. What good is it to keep agitating for more after I've already brought it up before? These are thorny conversations to have, ripe for potential misunderstanding and discomfort, and I don't want to force people to hang out with me more than they want to if they're not about to initiate it themselves. I've resigned myself to accepting that I can often expect more from people than they're willing to give.
A few days ago one of my friends here invited me to go on a ski trip in mid-December with his friend group, who have sort of adopted me by gradually inviting me their board game, bowling, and pickleball nights over the past few months. While they've all been very nice to me, I feel a little apprehensive about going: I know this is the perfect opportunity to strengthen some in-person friendships that my therapist & friends have urged me to seek out, but I'm worried about feeling left out. I'm the youngest member of the group by far and easily the odd one out, and my brain can already draw up so many hypothetical disaster scenarios. What if I get hurt skiing and put a damper on the trip? What if they want to drink and party at night when all I want to do is read and sleep early? One of my friends told me, "you don't have anything better to do anyway," and while he probably isn't wrong, I'm not sure that's a good reason to go.
Some of my most terrible childhood memories come from being ridiculed and mocked by classmates and (people I thought were) 'friends' I'd been grouped with. As a result, I have developed whatever the opposite of FOMO (fear of missing out) is; I'd much rather miss out than risk joining a group and feeling made fun of or left out. When I was in middle school I opted (in a heartbeat) to go stand in front of a diorama for two days at the state science fair rather than go on the class trip to the beach. I don't even like science. I just wanted to get as far away as I could from the possibility of bad memories recurring. I'm fortunate to be able to say that I've had many better experiences among friend groups since then, but trauma never fully lets you go, in the same way I still flinch around my mom sometimes, even if it's been years since she's actually hit me.
I was thinking about all this yesterday when deciding whether or not to go to this ski trip when I realized I was missing some necessary equipment (notably snow goggles), which led me to do some math on how much the whole trip would cost. I shouldn't have worried so much; skiing is so expensive it doesn't really matter what I feel. This is simply way too much money to fork over for something I'm not sure I'll even enjoy.
The title of this post is from Nick Drake's Place to Be, a song (and artist) I've been enamored with lately. I don't think it augurs well for my longevity that I find so much to relate to in the music of an artist who was notoriously depressed and died from overdosing on antidepressants in his mid-twenties, but I'd rather not think about that for now.
When I was young, younger than before
I never saw the truth hanging from the door
And now I'm older, see it face to face
And now I'm older, gotta get up, clean the place
And I was green, greener than the hill
Where flowers grew and the sun shone still
Now I'm darker than the deepest sea
Just hand me down, give me a place to be
And I was strong, strong in the sun
I thought I'd see when day was done
Now I'm weaker than the palest blue
Oh so weak in this need for you