The scene is familiar to every mother.
Probably you something you have experienced more than once.
You have been graciously invited to someones house whom you are not particularly close with. The reason, of course, being, to get to know this hospitable couple and their charming children, all the better.
After nine minutes of small talk: something happens.
Usually involving a hurt child, a child dispute, or a hungry/cranky/messy baby.
"So much for adult interaction", Mama grumbles inside her head, with a painted smile on the outside of her head, as she is shuffled off to some tucked away room.
Once the Mama Duties have been efficiently performed, she suddenly find herself alone in a stranger's home. Their picture frames, nick knack's, housekeeping skills, or lack there of, peering out, taunting her to inspect more closely (note: "inspect more closely " is not the same as being nosey, or invading privacy, because that would be just plain rude).
I don't know about you, but right after the pictures and medicine cabinet(kidding) I go straight for the book shelves.
What a person reads says a lot about them.
You will glean much more about your host and hostess this way than you will ever discover over several dinner invitations (at least that is my theory: we have never been invited anyplace more than once).
The reason for this little story is not to illustrate how anti-social we all are.
I tell it because I've always know that I am the type of girl who (not always) but for the most part, prefers to be alone. And when I "have had enough" I loose myself among books and my thoughts, not calling a girlfriend for a good cry, or rant.
Maybe, just maybe I think: It is not as "loser-ish" as it may seem. Nor is it an obvious glaring social problem, stemming from childhood:
"she never learned to show emotion"
"she has social anxiety"
"she has trouble expressing herself"
Anyone who has ever been in the room more than 15 minutes with me knows that is not true of me.
The Barnes and Noble Factor:
When I am stressed, having a rotten day, or want to do harm to members of my family I escape to Barnes and Noble. It's my Cheers (as in the Ted Danson show from the 1980s, not my signature farewell phrase, but that was really cool how that just tied in).
OK, OK, I will be honest: there have been times, when really down or feeling hopeless I find myself thinking: "it would be nice to meet and talk with a friend, instead of going by myself again.
And yet, I am not completely friendless, have gone and talked, and talked, with friends. I always do feel better. Never because they enlightened me as to what my real problems and solutions are. They simply distracted me from my problems; problems that became blacker and bleaker in my mind than they truly were. Truthfully, almost all conversations end up revolving around things others than the issues plaguing my heart. The conversation will flit, and lightly land on those tender issues, but like a delicate butterfly, it soon follows another, more promising, direction.
I have always know, that even my close friends, can't really help any serious problems. Will never have the capacity to do so, because it is happening to ME. It is not that spending time with friends, laughing and sharing is a waste of time. Quite the contrary: its a vital part of being human. But "girlfriend power" has never been my mainstay.
But back to last night:
I stopped by a table spread with promising stacks of "New in Paperback" books; their pristine covers gleaming in neat rows. The table was placed within whiffing distance of brewing starbucks and baking desserts.
I picked up a book titled A Brief History on Thought
Written my Luc Ferry a modern French philosopher.
Yes, this does sound as boring as dry paint, but something I like to do is read what "best selling authors and minds" have to say about Christianity. You see, who Christ is, and what He did is the most important thing in the world to me. This is not the case for a large part of the population, and so I am immensely interested to see what other people pin their hopes on, since we all believe in something. Not so I can debate, and judge everyone as stupid sinners, but to understand. Along the way I have learned that so many religions and higher ideas of thoughts do have many parallel ideas.
(Sometimes, to get my mind off myself and purge myself of my intense feelings I loose myself in some fiction. That night I decided to make my brain work).
So in this book the major five world philosophies were outlined. I went straight to the chapter called "Christianity's Victory over Greek Philosophy".
I will not bore you with all the history and theories. But I will say that this Luc fellow gave the most honest, and insightful account of the relevance of the birth of Christianity, and how it changed the world, and for better, that I have ever read before by a non-Christian.
For that he gets my full respect.
And if this post has not put you to sleep, try to focus, maybe get a piece or two of chocolate and read this passage that Mr. Ferry included, writing on the characteristics of this "New" Christian philosophy. He is quoting the 15th century theologian Pascal in his work titled: Pensees (C'mon you know you love this one…read it all the time)
It is unjust that man should attach themselves to me,
even though they do it with pleasure. I should deceive
those is whom I envice this desire; for I am an end for no
person, and have not the wherewithal to satisfy them.
Am I not about to die? And therefore their attachment
will die…they should be spending their life and their
efforts in pleasing God, or in seeking Him"
Go ahead, read it a couple times, I had to.
Those words, read in a book written by probably a French agnostic, quoting a 15th century author put into words (once I figured out what he meant) that alienated feeling I always felt when others and society sing the importance of us woman, having a bosom friend, a bff, that girlfriend you can call at any time, any day and have a good cry with.
I never had that.
Have always felt to have to need another human being so much, that, that attachment, became the difference of you being a happy person, or a mess, was an unfair demand to put on any one person.The vastness of the power and wisdom of God, channeled to me by His Spirit, surely should suffice.
Having never really experiencing that "bff" bond, it seems more of a Hollywood-driven ideal. A little too "Steel Magnolias" for me.
Now, maybe its just me.
Maybe lots of you have that call-any-time-day-or-night-bff-Julia Roberts-film-kinda friend.
I will say: I don't count husbands in this equation;you and your husband are "one flesh", the human you are to "leave and cleave" with.
And children are a part of you, and your responsibility. The older my girls get, the more I learn from them, enjoy, and need them.
Alright, this is getting a wee bit lengthy.
But all this is to say:
Three hours at Barnes and Noble, with reading, recording of passages, and some of my own writing, reminded me that if I am truly going to commit to be one of "those people", then it ought to be for some reason. (and drinking expensive coffee and baked goods with a good book alone is not good enough).
It validated that I am not only one of those introverts, but a lover of the written word, like, and can write.
My coffee table non-fiction reading.
(The non-fiction material piled up on a person's coffee table, really reveals a person's passions and pursuits, in case you have a dinner party coming up).
What mine say about me:
1. I have always wanted to write a memoir on my experience of being a mother
2. Me and Mr.MS want to be hobby farmers one day, maybe as soon as next summer.
3. I think I can get published, but its gonna take lots of homework and time.
4. Sommerset Life Magazine and Writer's Digest are periodicals that offer lots of minor but ample opportunities to see something I have written in print. (manyslices doesn't count)
So getting this stack of information in my head, to something tangible is going to take a) moving to a farm house in the country and buying some ducks and goats. And b) taking ideas and scrawling words scribbled in various notebooks like this and put them in our mac.
Once again , it's just gonna take some work, and plain old time in this old wrought iron ice cream parlor chair with a cup of coffee and a moment or two of stolen quiet.
Here's to being anti-social.