When My Health-Conscious Friend Orders Extra Crackers

soups at the deli
“I’LL HAVE the chowder,” she says.
“Me, too.”
“Extra crackers, please,” she says.

I look at her,
my friend who keeps me on the straight-and-narrow,
texting in warm weather
to ask if I want to go for a bike ride,
packing picnic lunches for us
with pita to take to the park.
Fruit, a little hummus and a carrot stick.
So much better than a fat sandwich and chips, she always says.
She’s right. She’s right. I know she’s right.

I have a cadre of friends like this,
hopeful of pulling me back from the edge of self-destruction.
I keep them on because I love them, pure and simple
(but the year they went Paleo was almost the end for me,
a person who bakes bread and pie as gifts.)

I digress….

Extra crackers?
Things must be bad.

I look at her.
She looks at me, eyebrows up.
“Sure, yeah,” I say. “Me, too. Extra crackers.”
I feel the world has just tilted on its axis in a different direction.

* * *

I HAVE A HABIT,
started last year.
I make it my goal
on my day off each week,
to get together with one of my friends,
to touch base,
face-to-face
.
Not the same person every time.

Coffee, brunch, lunch, whatever.
My house, her house, someplace in town.
60 minutes perhaps, or 30 or 90.
That’s it. And then we go our separate ways.

Here’s why:
In times of crisis, I withdraw,
as all card-carrying hermits do,
but before long I am so isolated
things are worse than they need to be.
I have no thoughts beyond those in my own head.
I have no sense of the lives others are living.

* * *

FIVE YEARS AGO
when Wally was diagnosed with CLL,
I fell into one of these withdrawal modes.
Just trying to meet the demands of appointments and keep the house running
can pull a person out of circulation.

“I feel so out-of-touch with people,” I told a friend.
“You need to get on Facebook,” she said.
But you know what? Facebook didn’t help.
It didn’t address the isolation, the disconnectedness.
In fact, it increased it.

So I have this practice, the once-a-week face-to-face.
File it under “Mental Health Initiatives.”
It works well.

And though I started it
because I had a crisis that threatened to consume me,
if I was not careful and intentional,
my crisis has fallen off the headlines of our conversations.
It’s not the top topic anymore.
And now my friend is ordering extra crackers,
count me in,
and I am already in place to hear her out.

This is the second post in a week I’ve written about intentionally being around people. Hmmm.
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About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in busy schedules, cancer, community, friendship, goals, habit, intentional relating, people, relationship. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When My Health-Conscious Friend Orders Extra Crackers

  1. “…a card-carrying hermit…” Yup. Me too. Just got lovingly called out on it by a sweet friend at church this morning. I hadn’t been there for a few weeks for a whole variety of reasons (and possibly some excuses), and didn’t want to go this morning, because, I discovered, I didn’t actually want to talk…to anyone…about anything. But I knew I needed to be there. And my friend did too. Somehow, she always does.

    Blessings to you, my Friend! Wishing we lived close enough to share a little conversation over tea…perhaps one day we’ll meet again in the Canyon, mugs in hand, tucked into the quiet of two corner chairs circled in light.

    Like

  2. Belinda says:

    Yes, count me in as a bona fide member of the Hermit Club too! The complaint I have received from friends closest to me all my life is that we never talk unless they initiate the phone call or that I don’t give enough of my “self” in conversation. I often feel that I dominate the conversation but only when I have something to say. What’s wrong with that? 🙂 I love to listen and love my extrovert talkative friends.But how great your idea is–to invest in relationship so intentionally. Inspiring!

    Like

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