The Hours

2,541.8 miles. Those are the combined miles from my house to the homes of my best friends. My skulk if you will. So, supposing that I drove 60 miles an hour (which we know is a lie), it would take me 42.36 hours to reach all of them. I don’t really know if that’s in any way correct. I do English, not math. But I would do it. If any of them needed me, wanted me, just had to see me. I would do it. Barring some complication like illness or impairment, I would be there. So why, I ask myself so often, has one hour become a road block for so many others?

I live a good hour away from most of my friends. And the ones in the skulk never use that as an excuse not to see me, but in recent years, I’ve heard these phrases quite often from other people, who I call the “hours”. The ones that complain that I live an hour from them and use it in one of the following ways to exclude me from their lives.

“You live too far away”

“You need to move to {insert city of said speaker’s residence}”

“I get lost going up there”

“Your roads are scary”(as I had some sort of Harry Potter like control over the planning of Lapeer County’s roads ?)

If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that those are excuses. They are the little fallback lines that people use for things that they don’t really want to do. At home, how many times have I not worn what I want to wear because the clean shirt I was thinking about is in the basement?! For surely if it is not right in front of me I cannot wear it! How many times have I not gotten water, tea, coffee, pop, because the walk from my office to the kitchen was “too far”? How many times have I contemplated rolling my chair down the narrow hallway? Too many to count. But I don’t. It’s just “too far”.

I can see the kitchen from the threshold to my office.

See? Excuses.

Some other famous ones are the ones that are left unspoken.

“You’re married. You wouldn’t want to go.” As if my being married has any impact on the things that I would or would not enjoy.

“You’re just closer to {insert the name of a mutual friend}, so I/we figured you were doing something together.”

These are the ones that directly impact me.

The other irksome unspokens  involve my friends’ children. Now, from a woman that doesn’t have children, I don’t know all of the logistics of taking kids on excursions out and about, but I do know that I’ve watched more than one of my skulkettes do it. They’ve done it in rain, wind, snow, excessive heat, and even on unbearable Michigan allergy alert days. So why? Why are my friends’ children such an inconvenience? Better though, when did the fact that my friends even have children become a friendship barrier?

Maybe we need applications with check boxes. Sample question: “do you plan on having children while we are friends: yes or no?” Then there needs to be a hiring board that automatically throws out the yeses and unites those people as friends. See? This is a whole employment system I have worked out here.

You’d think that as I age that being deliberately left out of things wouldn’t affect me anymore. Well, I’ve learned another thing in the last few years. In each of us, there is a nine year old. There is a fourth grader in there. Deep in the psyche. That nine year old doesn’t have the “everyone is my friend” mentality of kindergarten aged children, but he or she doesn’t yet have the cynicism of a “tween”. That nine year old just wants to have fun and be part of it all. And above all, once you reach your late twenties and edge into your thirties, you damn well better listen to that nine year old. Because she’s been nine a long freaking time. She knows how to be nine.

My nine year old wants to come out when people that I know don’t listen to me or don’t seem to care at all about anything that is going on in my life. Yet, somehow, I am looked upon to care when something happens…to them.

These are the instances in which throat punching people is not an option. You need to tell the nine year old that it’s time for a time out.

I was recently engaged in a conversation that went something like this:

Person A to Person B (I am Person C in this scenario): “hey, what about the last weekend in April… (additional conversational chatter)?”

Person B: “I think that will work…(additional blah, blah, blah).

Person A and B look at me, as I was just standing there thinking “how do I escape from this?”

Now, I don’t expect Person A to know any of the details of my life, as we are not friends. Person A is someone that I know in aquaintance form.

Person B…. Person B is one of the “hours”.  Although knowing nothing about my current life news, I would be expected to know Person B’s if pressed.

I explain that I have an important event on the day in question. And Person B acknowledges that fact was somewhere in the knowledge bank. Now, I didn’t go out of my way to explain the great details of this event because I am used to their treatment of me as an afterthought.

When you ignore good people enough they just don’t care anymore.

I know that Person B doesn’t care about the event in my life because not once, but twice, has Person B brought up said alternate plans directly in front of me.

The second time this happened, I realized that the nine year old has shut up. She’s stopped talking and stopped reacting.

Using an hour as an excuse to not include me has driven a wedge so far into the relationship that I have stopped reacting when I’m no longer included. I am also non-reactionary when “the hours” don’t seem to care at all about anything that is important to me.

I would drive 2,541.8 miles. And there are people that won’t take an hour.

Sometimes, it’s hard to evaluate who to spend the time worrying about and which relationships to pour effort into.

I’ve learned to worry about the ones that spend 40.1 miles, 60.1 miles, 50.1 miles, and 2,385 miles. Just like me. Because roads travel two ways.

As do friendships.

The hours spent driving here and there don’t really matter much when the payoff is something much more valuable. In the end, it’s all time. It just depends on how you want to spend it.

 

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