It's Homecoming in Mascoutah. No, I don't mean the local high school's homecoming. I mean the town's. The first weekend in August. They set up a fair in the park and everybody and their brother goes...and mother for that matter. It's a big reunion fest. Mascoutah graduates fly home for it. It's a big deal. That is if you are from Mascoutah.
I'm not. So it's usually me just standing there watching. I don't get the excitement because I didn't go to school there, I don't know the person my Mascoutah grad friend is talking to. So I watch and smile as they stand around talking until midnight.
But tonight is different. Tonight I'm in deep conversation with one of my Mascoutah friend's. We're having what could be a life changing conversation. It's about friends..the good, the bad and the ugly. At one point I'm assuming I'm in the "bad" catagory. Because. Well because I am. A not so great friend, I'll call it. Not just to her. To every friend I've had in my life. But it wasn't until now. Until this conversation that I begin to see it. To see the big picture.
She's telling me she's learned not to take it personally when friends don't put the time into the relationship..when they're takers and not givers. She says she's realized that everyone has stuff..junk..history. We never know what's happening in their minds and in their lives. She refuses to get her feelings hurt when they don't return calls, or make the effort to hang out. At this point, I'm pretty sure she's talking about me...If not, she might as well be.
So I bite. I tell her I might understand that "bad" friend. And how I was actually stunned when I lworked in Montana and my roommate told me I was hard to get to know and distant...and all the girls at the station agree. I always thought I was polite..open and honest...how could this be? But the accusation surfaced again when I moved to St Louis. Again..I was confused.
And then my own husband told me. the. same. thing. "You are anti social. Why don't you ever want to have people over? How can you stay at home without talking to people all weekend?"
But it's not until this moment in front of the draft beer stand with the class of 88 grads in ear shot trying to figure out if I'm some girl they graduated with..
It's not until now that all those accusations become clear. I've been living under a dome since high school. A comfort dome.
I didn't grow up inviting people to my house..neither did my parents. I was too busy trying to keep our disfunctional family hidden. My sister did the same thing. We each had a best friend. And that friend and only that friend was invited to the house. The best friend that seemed oblivious to the mental illness in the family..and just accepted us.
I never threw a party. An organized, invitation, decorating, you prepare the food party until my son't first birthday. He'll be three in October. I didn't know how.
We just didn't do that at my house. Instead I live inside my comfort dome. Inside sits me and my home entertained by one of the Real Housewives of La La Land. They can't see me. I don't have to impress them or watch what I say. It's easy.
"Being social isn't for everyone." I tell myself. "I have my family to talk to. Besides I'm around people all week. I need a break."
But under that dome, no one can get to you. They try. But you're shut off from the world. They try to break through until it gets too tiresome and give up. So it's just you and the few you've allowed in. It's all you know. Eventually you become shut off from them, too. That's not living. That's dying. Alone.
These aren't excuses. These are explanations. Now that I’m aware, I'm responsible. It has to change. Breaking the dome and reaching out. Even if it feels foreign and unsettling. I am saying yes to invitations, saying yes to hosting, saying yes to phone calls. Saying. Yes. To. Life.
God didn't intend for us to be alone. He can't use us to help others if we don't build relationships. Living under a comfort zone stunts more that your social growth..It stunts you spiritual growth. Pick up the phone. Call an old friend. Say yes to the next invitation. Say yes to life.
Thank you, my Mascoutah friend.