An indulgent lunch led to a reflective evening.
food, no alcoholic beverage for me, but camaraderie. Two rich courses
overshadowed by non-stop chatter and laughter. The past relived, the
recent present caught up on. The latest disasters averted, the
budding romances, the failed marriages, the trials of family life,
the job woes, and the new resolutions. A social circle that's
survived and shared many experiences, except age; all of us at a
different stage in our lives. Young, middling, wise.
appearing young are in reality old; the middling neither youthful or
mature, and somewhere in-between being quiet and forthright; whereas
those assumed wise are young at heart, the flirtatious go-getters of
the group. Not forgetting the couple that flit across all three
categories like migratory birds: diving here and there, swooping in
the air, whilst always being impeccably groomed. Quite simply, they
put the rest of us to shame due to their coiffured hair, colour
coordinated outfits and matching accessories.
fair to say that grouped together we resemble a smorgasbord: none of
us are exactly alike, and yet we expect each of us to stay the same.
To be the same each time we meet. No change. Events may have moved
on, but personality and outlook should remain unaffected. Marie will
moan and seek reassurance; Hannah will listen and interject when
appropriate in soft, comforting tones; Tricia will try to be the
centre of attention; Jan will be business-like; Catherine will
attempt to jolly everyone along and usually succeed; Kelly will
apologise for any slight she feels she may have caused in the run-up
to these proceedings; and Natasha will look anxious but will
nonetheless provide a sense of calm.
being the case, how could our catch-ups possibly be merry? But they
are. Only a bunch of women know how to meet each member's emotional
needs and still manage to joke.
where am I in this assortment of women folk?
back and watch, taking part when I'm required to. Soaking up the
setting like a sponge, absorb what's done, what's said, make mental
notes, or try to engineer a one-to-one. That's the role I always
play. I don't think they realise these days that my attendance is a
huge effort. An undertaking I continue because I value their
individual friendship, and yet there are times when I feel the bond
is tired. Frayed, like a cord that's been strained in the same spot
and which soon might snap from the repeated tension.
have been more occasions than I could count recently where I've felt
we're not on the same page or even in the same book. Not that I would
admit to that fact in a telephone chat, by email, or to their faces.
I have never sought confrontation and I do not wish to seek it now,
although I know in suppressing it my tone at times may seem a little
odd. Brusque or vague, and I'm sure regardless of what I do or don't
say my body language gives me away. Just little signs that all is not
well. As well as it used to be. That something about me is different.
do feel different; I'm surprised that nobody else does, unless like
me they're hiding that reality under the layer of personality we've
each come prepared to exhibit and to expect. I just find I don't want
to be included as much and I don't want to engage with their concerns
or share my own. I've always been a bit reserved, a bit private like
that, sat on the outside and looked in, but now I want to be left
alone and not needled. The group dynamic dies if a member feels
obliged to attend the proposed outing, lunch, or girls' holiday, or
has to come up with a not very believable feeble excuse. So why do I
go? Because it's easier than laying my new self bare. Because it's
hard to leave the old me behind.
All characters and events in the above are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental.