Old friends

This is perhaps the busiest christmas season I’ve had in a long time.  Party at my brother’s work (BATH research group), party at work, party last night, and party tonight at my boss’s house.  The first one didn’t go so well.  It was smack in the middle of the week and after a long day of work.  I’d already been sick on the weekend with a god awful round of stomach cramps.  And I forgot to premedicate prior to the party, so I had to leave the party early and get sick at home.  😦

I took it easier on Thursday, and I took Friday off/worked from home – which was great since Friday night was the getting together with old friends night.  I didn’t feel good all day, and gave my husband the head’s up that it would probably be a “hi/bye” kind of event.  I managed to last about 2 hours before I was swaying and dealing less than gracefully with the whole autonomic screwery.  Some highlights from last night included the bar tender telling me that my drink order (ginger ale) was “boring”.  Well fuck you too missy.  Enjoy that nickel tip.  Explaining to my friends (thankfully, a small group at that point) that I don’t drink because alcohol and me don’t agree.  They were gracious about it, only one follow up question and it seemed to be asked out of genuine concern and not some kind of puerile interrogation type of inquiry.

Then there were references to my not driving when we all knew each other in my late teens and early twenties.  “I wasn’t allowed to get a driver’s license until I could go 6 months without passing out – I passed out a lot” I explained.  “What?  You did?  When?”  a group asked.  “Jesus, all the time.  The time at lunch in 11th grade, the time I passed out on the field trip to Paul Revere’s house, the time I passed out on the plane trip to Italy….”  “What was wrong?”  I explained that I was hypoglycemic and didn’t know it.  I think I did a decent job of not over explaining or offering too much gory, eye-roll inducing detail but still managing to convey the important bits of info (i.e. “why I always mooched rides off everyone”).

And then there was the talk about taking public transit and walking around in the city, and how people get in your way and crowd you, even when you walk with a cane.  “You have a cane?” one person asked with some evident shock.  “yeah, I only use it sometimes” “why?”  “I have a connective tissue thing, it’s painful.  I’ve always been very flexible, but before I could bend and pop things out of joint and it didn’t hurt.  Now, it does.”  Head nods all around.  I’m one of the younger in this set of people, and I’m 41.  Everyone is becoming familiar with the rotten tricks their bodies can play on them.

I think it helps that one of the old friends who has kids has a kid who was born with a heart defect.  The kid is doing great, and is now verging on adolescence.  This friend is not a stranger to hospitals, his son has had multiple surgeries and still needs to go in routinely for moderately invasive check ups.  People with that kind of experience do not tend to look at you like a freak for having medical problems.  It’s a very welcome change from how my disclosures are sometimes greeted.  I think it helps that they knew me when I was young and spry and they knew that although I never was known for my amazing feats of strength, I was definitely not a shrinking violet who needed to be treated with kid gloves.  Miles long walks through the city, running and jumping around on the beach wall and climbing lifeguard chairs at night, dancing in mosh pits and spending the night hanging out on the Boston Common because we missed the last train out.  Actually now that I think of it, one of them was with me when I fell once.  We’d been out at a dance, his car had been towed, we ended up in a bad part of town getting it out, and at one point I had to haul ass across a busy street in my way too high heels. I wiped out and came down on my knee, hard, but other than some serious swearing, I got up and soldiered on.  I think the fall and post fall experience made it clear that I’m not a wimp.  He tried to help me scrub the glass and gravel out of it later at his apartment but he was being too delicate.  “Give me that” I said and took the washcoth, then proceeded to scrub with a vigor that made him turn a rather green shade of pale.  Contrast that to the people who only know me now, as a “sick person”.  The judgment I get from them is pretty severe.  Not all of them, but for example, at my last job I was treated to frequent conversations about how to will one’s way out of being sick, or to the 100 stupid questions about what was wrong with me.

So overall, despite it being a short event, it was nice to see folks.  A few of them live quite near me it turns out, and we’re planning to get together again a dive bar in my old neighborhood (they live in the part of town where I grew up).  There’s a comfort to staying close to home, to familiar places.  If I get in trouble, health-wise, I know where to go, I know the taxi phone numbers, I know what hospitals are good and what aren’t.  I know how to drive home even feeling bad, without getting turned around or lost.  On my way out last night, one of them said “Ok, we’ll definitely do a bar night!” and I said “Absolutely, but earlier…I can hang out longer if it doesn’t start at 8:00 PM”  “Not a problem!” he said – and boy doesn’t that make a difference.

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  1. the slippery slope | Final Trick

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