Several years ago my mother told me that when I was a one-year-old, she trained me to go to bed late and sleep in until noon because it made mornings easier on her once my baby sister was born.
Wasn’t that nice of me to be so cooperative at the age of one?
Actually, my mother just got lucky. It turns out, I am a night owl by nature. I kind of suspected it off and on over the years. This year though, the year of not having a job and maybe never having a job again, I put my theory to the test by pretty much heading to bed or laying down whenever the hell I want and also not getting up again unless I WANT to. And sure enough, I am pretty energetic in the middle of the night and pretty sluggish until very late in the a. m. That’s the pattern when I feel completely lousy in every way and it is the pattern when I feel mellow and okay.
Today I’m up early because I had a weird dream. My late cousin’s daughter came into my old workplace crying because she missed her mother. All her friends were there with her and my friends were there with me. The daughter’s friends told me that they were taking me with them on a special outing they had planned for her to cheer her up. Of course I didn’t know what the outing was because they are a younger generation and not my friends. I felt like I had no choice but to accompany them. But I had left my purse at a different office. One of my friends said I could use her purse and credit card and phone. But I felt very uncomfortable about doing that.
Eventually I thought to take one of the younger women aside and beg her to tell me where we were going because I didn’t have my purse with me and needed to know what my friend would be lending me. In my mind, $45 seemed to be the upper limit of what I was willing to borrow from my friend.
She told me they were taking us to see Les Miserable on Broadway as that was the daughter’s favorite ladies’ night out. Then I knew I had to either get someone to take me and find my own purse or back-out from the outing because there was no way I would borrow that kind of money from my friend who probably didn’t want to be out hundreds of dollars in one evening.
It disappoints me that my dreams are still so stupid when it comes to people smarts and boundaries and knowing what to do before things get out of hand. I will wake up from each messy puzzle that my dreams come up with and say to myself, for crying out loud, it’s a DREAM. You can be assertive, mouthy, rude, whatever, in a freaking dream. But no. I still fall back on being cooperative and tactful and nervous.
Now this morning, I am up way too early and what is going on that I would normally have missed? My idiot neighbors are outside vacuuming and hooting and hollering and generally making my skin crawl.
I dislike my idiot neighbors enormously. When they first bought the house next door, we ran into them at the grocery store. My husband had already met them and stopped to talk and introduce me. Right there in the frozen food aisle they both began regaling us with their life stories in a huge noisy rush. I made a mental note to establish some kind of boundary with them but still let them talk and talk and talk while my mouth stayed in a polite smile.
When they finally ran out of steam and went on their way, I asked my husband if my hair was blown straight back from my face as it felt like I had just walked out of a hurricane or tornado.
I still applaud myself for being able to recognize a bad dynamic right away for probably the very first time in my life. But, alas, recognition was not enough to prevent the bad dynamic from becoming my own personal hell anyway. I had zero clue what to actually do to set a firm boundary with people whose driveway actually butts up against ours. People who have zero boundaries themselves and see no need for them.
Over a decade later…. I still think the best solution to that one will be to sell our house and move to a place on a wooded lot with no neighbors at all.
So, yesterday I spent the afternoon with my mother and it was a typical visit. We talked about what she wanted to talk about for as long as she wanted to talk about it. Much, much later I realized I had forgotten to tell her that I found out what my cousin’s family had done with her body after she passed away a few weeks ago. My mother was very distracted at the funeral because there was no casket or urn present at the services. It didn’t bother me all that much. I didn’t really think it was my business. But she kept asking me if I knew what was done.
I found out by accident that in fact they donated her body to a local school of medicine and would be receiving her cremains at some point in the future when the students are done studying her. Not what I would have picked, but again, not my business or my decision. Many people do this and feel good about contributing to medical science.
At first I wasn’t going to tell my mother because the fact that she was even wondering about it seemed to make it gossipy and tacky. Then I wavered. What would be so different about this conversation from any other I have had with my mother all my life? If I have information she is actually interested in maybe it will even be kind of enjoyable to talk about. Kind of a female bonding experience.
But my mother had so many bits of her own news to tell about that I forgot all about my “news”. I spent the visit responding rather than offering. I will spend the next few days decompressing. And napping.