Hat on Top, Coat Below


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Dear A.

July 27, 2006

(Note: I am pretty sure A. does not read this journal, so if you are reading this, you are almost certainly not A.)

I once believed we would be friends. Not best friends, since that slot is already filled on both sides and anyway it’s hard to find the time needed to really get that close to someone new. But we could be just regular friends; that would be nice. You liked books that I liked, and that seemed like a good place to start. So we started, and I was glad to find we had more in common than just the books we’d read and re-read.

I once believed I was welcome in your circle. Of course I did; you said you were happy to have me join in. I tried not to feel left out when you’d bust out the in-jokes. I knew everything was before my time but it wouldn’t always be so. Except now I’m not so sure.

I once believed we’d get beyond that normal getting to know you awkwardness. Or I’d get beyond it, I suppose I should say, since I don’t think you were feeling the same thing. Maybe I should have listened more to the little voice in my head that said we weren’t so much finding common ground as you were letting me occupy a corner of your territory and maybe I shouldn’t plan on settling in.

I once believed I could deal with the things you do that I don’t like. Lord knows I have enough bad habits of my own, so who am I to criticize. But when one of the things you did was make me feel stupid, I started to wonder. I know, I know, you can’t make me feel anything. You do what you do, and I feel how I feel, and you’re not responsible for how I react to what you do. It’s just hard for me to let things roll off my back. You may verbally slap me for crossing a line I didn’t understand was there and forget about it minutes later. But I worry over it. I wonder if I’ll recognize that line when I approach the next time. You could help by not brushing off my questions when I ask you to tell me more about what I did to upset you; I just want to understand so I don’t do it again. At the very least, you could come up with a better reason why you didn’t get back to me than “I was eating lunch away from the computer”. For five days? You were eating lunch for five days? Surely that was a joke; I had hoped I rated a more serious response.

I once believed we would be friends. Now I’m pretty sure we won’t be. I’m mostly okay with that. I have other friends. People who will tell me when I’m acting stupid without making me feel I am stupid. Maybe I can get them to like the books we like. Then I can talk about the next one with them instead of just regretting that I couldn’t get along better with you and yours. Or maybe by the time the next one comes out I’ll have grown a thicker more resilient skin and will be able to just enjoy the enjoyable bits of our relationship and let the rest go. Stranger things have happened.

(P.S.: Re-reading this, I realize I sound whiny and obtuse and annoying. I blame the headache I’ve had for two days that refuses to retreat even though I’ve deployed caffeine and a variety of over the counter drugs in an effort to defeat it.)

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