I thought I had temporary arrested development a year or so ago. I'm concerned it's not so temporary.
When I was kid, making friends was easy. Whoever I sat next to in class was my friend. Whoever lived on my street was my friend. It didn't matter if we had opposing interests. Other than the joy and exhilaration we both received while playing with matches, my childhood friend, Samantha, and I had very little in common. The story is similar for the friends I made in junior high, high school and college. Different sports, different boy or girl attractions, different styles and different quirks. We were simply friends.
Of all of those friends, I remain very close to a handful, and even fewer allow me full range of motion. I feel thankful for those important relationships, but I enjoy meeting people and making new friends.
For many reasons, the past 12-15 years have afforded me few opportunities to cultivate new relationships. We've lived in four states, have had to help our sons through some challenges [everyone's doing great now], and priorities have made themselves clear to Chris and me. I've met several people, it's the nurturing and cultivating of the new relationships where I seem to fail.
Like learning to drive a stick shift.
I get excited and rev the engine, a little too much gas, then I pop the clutch and take off with a giant jerking motion, followed by several smaller jerking motions. Then I slow down, because I came on too strong, but I don't get the clutch, the brake and the release from the gas just right, so I kill the engine. Not enough. Then I try again, still too much gas, I jerk and lunge, apologize for the whiplash and make promises of a smoother ride in the future, I pull back on the gas and kill the engine... again.
I assume a level of intimacy too soon, then I recoil and appear aloof. My throttle's messed up. I've noticed this as I've reconnected with old friends, and as I've made new friends in person or on the internet. As a kid, I didn't put any thought into approaching others with a genuine enthusiasm for making new friends. As an adult, I think it freaks people out.
Often, I truly don't have the time to cultivate relationships at a moderate pace. It's speed dating for me, baby. When I have the time, I'm all your's and I try to pour a month [or more] of "dates" into a brief conversation or email exchange. Then, I fall off radar. Other times, I'm overly-aware of my arrested development because it feels like it's been so long since I've had a consistent and moderate pace in life, so I disappear out of insecurity and embarrassment. Paralyzed by what to say or not say.
I'm thankful for my tent-post-friends, the ones who afford me full range of motion. With them, my tarp is large and strong. They all live states away, so If it wasn't for the telephone and email, I'd be permanently, socially disabled. I've gotten good at having an intense five-minute relationship with the grocery store cashier, the girls and boys who work at various cosmetic and fragrance counters, as well as anyone who's trying to sell me ANYTHING. One of my tent-post-friends admits to doing the same thing, because she too is isolated and busy.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is, if you see me jerking spastically towards you, make some room and I'll do the best I can to not hit you too hard, shift smoother and not kill the engine. Thank you.