Thursday, November 13, 2014

The new way to keep time

I have been trying to write my friend (okay, honestly, I've been trying to write about 7 friends) for a month. Like a real letter. Or I'd even accept an email. I got a new job, my schedule shifted, my brain shifted, my kid shifted and even my husband shifted.
I haven't been able to sit down and really focus and write a heartfelt letter in so long.
I remember the days fondly when I used to do that and I long for them now.

But I'm a parent now. A working parent. A working parent with a happy marriage.

So I don't have the same kind of time that I used to have. The same 24 hours exist, but they have shifted. We go to bed at 9p (yep!) so we can get up at 5a (yep!). Our child is in bed by 8:15p. That gives us an hour to sometimes eat, catch up, clean the kitchen, reconcile our expenses, coordinate our schedules, do laundry, prep lunches and "unwind."

*I've been writing for 3 minutes and now have to get up, because my family has just come home, just to give you an idea of how much time I actually have to write*

Mind you, I'm just talking about writing a letter. I didn't really want to even broach the subject of seeing the people I love in-person. Seems like more than a struggle.

A friend just texted me if this is what adult friendship looks like now. And I was stumped. Is it? Or is it just me? Another friend of mine has two kids and lives far away and the idea of either of us having time to truly talk on the phone and catch up (or really, more accurately, weigh in, support, share honestly about our lives, etc.) seems like a total pipe dream now.

But back to the title of this entry: The new way to keep time.

Here's what I'd like to try:

I don't talk to my close friends as much, but the closeness for me isn't lessened. It may *feel* that way or even look that way, but how can I possibly explain that their spirits just hang around me and when I walk down the street - alone-, I am actually talking to them, laughing with them, shoving them lovingly, giggling, pointing out outfits and hot people and generally "connecting" in a very different way now?

If I could text all my friends (I know, a really poor way of connecting for a lot of people, but for me, it works) when I thought of them, then I'd seem a bit insane. But I have 30 seconds for a text. What I hate is that the in-depth conversation I had with one of my friends the other day was while I drove to another city, and had to hang up abruptly because I needed to park and I hadn't even barely checked in. It was emotionally frustrating to leave the conversation in that kind of process lurch, but if I wanted to stop playing phone tag, I had to get a bluetooth hooked up (ugh) and call during my drive.

Okay, I realize this isn't an experiment, as much as it's a re-frame of time. It used to be that hours equaled the amount of love I had for a friend (not really, but it felt that way). That can't work anymore because I am constantly suffering from the idea that I am choosing one person over after day. It's not that way. Some friends I think of at 3am, after a bad dream. I imagine what they'd say and how they'd comfort me. Other times, I hear the echoes of my friend's voice telling me to slow down, be nicer to myself, and to appreciate how awesome I am. I'm confident it's her voice and not mine. So I take that as "connection" time.

Another several of my friends are new parents and if time spent with me equaled the state of our friendship then I suppose I'd have to consider the friendship in a coma, at best. But I don't want to think that. I want to reach them outside the bounds of time and space, so I can still connect with them.

Other friends don't have kids and I am struggling with the idea that I can't be with them like I used to be. And I know they have no problem with my kids coming over or hanging out, but honestly, I do! I don't want to take precious time with them and add my kid to that! I want alone time with them!

What about my husband? We have to wake up at 5am so that we can have alone time together. And that time is just so we can ground, check-in, appreciate each other, and make sure we know what's going on in the other's life. We're too beat to do it at night, and before K gets up is just the best time. But from 5-7a I want to cram in: time with hubby, writing time, art time, writing to my friends, showering, dressing, taking care of bills, and maybe a few facebook checks (which are lessening because I just don't have the mental space).

So how do adults with busy lives (kids, travel, atypical jobs, etc) stay friends? Do we need to restructure the conditions? Write more texts? Be satisfied with smaller hangout periods? Wake up earlier?
I don't know the answer.

In the meantime, I am trying to check-in with folks as much as I can, even if it's in between appointments or on the train to/from work. Sometimes I just write them quick poems and forward them along. I just have to keep reminding myself that I'm looking at a new way to keep time...


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