Weather Helmed

an adventure in renewing the spirit and living the dream…on a sailboat

Weather Helmed

Cut Off

February 27th, 2010 · 4 Comments · Introspection, Life Lessons, On Fear, Thoughts on Family

For the last six months, I have said that I would be giving up my cell phone when we finally left California. I figured that it would be nice to have as we went down the coast, where I was sure I’d have good cell service the whole time (thank you Verizon!) Now, we are here in San Diego, our last stop before Mexico and the D-Day for my little LG is fast approaching.

And the thought of tossing my cell overboard makes my stomach twist up in fearful knots.

As my friends and family know, I am horrible at keeping in touch. Sure, I check my facebook page religiously, but I am slow to return phone calls and can never be relied upon to actually take a call (unless it is from my mother, in which case I’m incessantly worried about whether she is ok, or from my brother, who I’m always convinced is calling me to tell me something has happened to my mom). Most everyone has figured out that I would much prefer exchanging 20 text messages over an hour to actually having a five minute conversation. Similarly, I would rather send you a ten-paragraph email than pick up the phone, although I don’t really even communicate via email that often anymore. In fact, I rarely communicate with friends and family at all, unless you count blogging and facebook comments as “communicating.”

Part of me says that this distancing from my community is naturally part of growing up and focusing on my own life and heading off on crazy adventures with my husband. The other part of me says that I’m just making excuses for my selfishness and laziness. The thing is that I genuinely LOVE my friends and desperately care about what happens in their lives. When I think about things they are struggling with, I empathize to the point that I sometimes go to bed, tearfully wondering how they are doing. Yet, do I pick up the phone to call them and ask? Maybe, but not usually. Do I send them a card or an email to let them know I’m thinking of them? Not often enough. A huge fear of mine, though, now and even before we started this trip, is that I will return to “normal life” in a year or two and no one will be waiting for me. My friends will have moved on to those friends who were around when they needed someone, who were there with them to endure the ups and downs of life. I know that I can support and encourage friends from a distance, but I know that when they are sad and need a hug or when they are celebrating a wonderful event, an email or a phone call just can’t replace the fact that I am not THERE.

That said, for so many friends, I have not been THERE in person for a long time: I have a tendency to leave whatever community I have built up. I stayed in my hometown for college and established several great friendships, then I left all that behind and moved to a town where I didn’t know anyone. Over the two years I was there, I made a few new friends and had begun to make a way for myself, and then I moved – again – to a city where I knew no one. I spent the next two years attempting to create a community, finding great roommates, getting involved with a church, making friends at work, and then I decided to go to law school – 3,000 miles away – and uprooted myself a third time. My law school experience, when it comes to friendships, was beyond amazing. I could not have asked for a more spectacular group of people to spend three years with. When our time was up, the vast majority of my class, including most of my girlfriends, all stayed on the east coast, within a 500 mile or so range of each other. I moved back to California. One thing I always had a lot of trouble with, in all these moves, was maintaining the friendships with those I left behind.

The ebb and flow of friendships is something you encounter all throughout life. There are times when you clearly “need” each other for a short period and then each moves on, a mutual understanding that the love is still there, but you no longer depend on one another to the same extent. And, of course, some friendships are not meant to go beyond a certain event or a certain time, and then other friendships become more or less significant according to what is happening in the peoples’ lives. Some friendships, for whatever reason, fall apart, and others simply grow apart. Fortunately, I have been blessed to have unbelievably good friends. Not just close friends, but people who are really good at showing me that they care, who are really good at BEING a friend. I am not so good at being a friend, or maybe it’s that I’m not so good at reciprocating the same type of behavior that those great friends show to me.

Anyway, I don’t want to make this an entirely selfish post about how I’m a bad friend. It’s just that I already feel incredibly disconnected from my friends and family because my life has become so different from theirs, and the thought of giving up my cell phone (even when I don’t really use it to maintain those connections) feels sort of like falling off the edge of the earth.

Of course, we don’t HAVE to give up our cell phones, but it makes no sense to keep them. We’re throwing at least $150 a month at them and once we head into foreign waters, service will be rare and, if we have it, the costs will just increase. And, even then, giving up the cell phone isn’t the REAL issue, it just symbolizes the lack of connection I feel, the lack of community around me, and, primarily, my insecurities and fears about the choices I’ve made to distance myself, once again, from the people I love and who love me (not including Matt of course!!)

I feel confident that my true friends will not abandon me and I hope some will even spend their vacations with us! But, I still feel strangely guilty about leaving, and not having a way for people to instantly contact me or me them… I think that my guilt over all those years of leaving friends behind and not keeping in better touch with them has finally caught up with me. I think, before, I didn’t realize or appreciate the value of a community and the value of maintaining that community. Of course, selfishly, now that *I* feel very removed from the “norm” and feel, in some ways, that *I’m* the one being left behind (even though I’m the one “leaving”), I fear that any community I may have left will not be there when I return.

I know I’m being completely overdramatic about the whole thing – it’s not as though Skype, the internet, calling cards, and stamps don’t exist! It’s not as though I couldn’t, at just about any moment, get some sort of access and communicate with someone. It’s not as though I really am falling off the edge of the earth.  But, today is one of those days when I regret that I won’t be THERE when my friend welcomes her second son, or when another friend hears her baby’s heartbeat for the first time, or when a friend needs help moving to a new apartment…  Today is one of those days when I regret that I won’t be there, and when I take a good hard look at myself and wonder if I would have been there anyway.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Livia

    That was a very interesting post. Last year I took a one month hiatus from all social networking sites including blogging and instead wrote at least one email a day to someone I was overdue to connect with. It was great and I’ve continued an abbreviated version of that now that I’ve let myself back onto FB etc.

  • Sandy

    I’d much rather SEE and hear you and Matt on skype than to just hear your voice on the cell phone. I’m a visual person and seeing that you are both enjoying the trip and healthy makes the connection stronger. So I am expecting you (or Matt) to skype me as part of our new friendship!

  • Leen

    I’ve gotten lucky in terms of having friends that, even though we don’t see each other for months on end, we still stay super close and just pick up where we left off. And although having a cell phone or facebook would easily be a great way to keeping in touch, I don’t really use either for that purpose. I’ve found that emails every two weeks has really helped me and my friends stay in touch. I know more about their daily lives that I ever did just browsing through their facebook!

  • Nikki

    It’s been HOW many years!?!@#$%&*!!! and you’re still stuck with me … my friend.

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