8:30 p.m. - February 20, 2008
Latest case in point:
Sunday, my flight from Jacksonville to Chicago was cancelled due to storms. Due to NASCAR, all seats on all airlines were booked. Agent said I could wait until Tuesday evening to return to San Francisco.
get myself to Orlando, where he booked me a seat on a non-stop. I figured I could rent a vehicle and voila! all would be well.
All rental cars were sold out, since NASCAR renters hadn't returned them or the many other people in my situation had rented vehicles with the same intention, leaving none in inventory.
I sat and thought and was angry for a minute, thought about taking the train to Boston where I am now direct from Jacksonville, about holing up in a hotel and finding a mall where I could get the right kind of clothes for Boston, felt stuck, stranded, and worst of all, not in control. Nothing gets me worse than that.
And then I had a thought: Call A., someone who is on the outer fringes of the outer fringe, someone I share hotel rooms with when we're at the same conferences, someone who piloted my first textbook, someone who is also a linguist and a good person to talk about the intricacies of Urdu grammar. She had attended the Jacksonville training and lives in Orlando, so perhaps I could get a ride with her.
So I called her. She had already left Jacksonville about an hour previous. I said oh, okay, and made small talk before rushing off the phone so as not to look like a complete idiot for calling her up. Funny thing is, she says You'd never call me up out of the blue like this - what gives? and I told her of my dilemma. She turned around immediately and I stayed overnight at her (beautiful-house-on-a-lake) home, and then dropped me off at the Orlando airport.
Things like this are difficult for me to interpret and make sense of. I mean, I understand it on one level - she obviously _____ something enough to go completely out of her way and backtrack to Jacksonville, but what is that ____ ? What do people expect from friendship, or maybe I should ask what are the parameters of friendship, because in my world asking someone to backtrack an hour, pick me up, house me, and go to the trouble of having me intrude on their life seems too much to ask. And yet I did, and I wasn't denied. What does that mean exactly? What is the word for it?
I treat people poorly, feel safe when they're distant, so I can't be hurt. And yet I yearn for them to be close, to impose on me, to let me impose on them, to let the guard dogs sleep, to feel comfortable enough to put straws in my nose if I felt like it and not be judged as an asinine, immature loser, just laugh and move on, enjoying the pleasure of the moment in which our breath is commingled and our laughter loud.
I do not know how to reciprocate A.'s generosity other than to be generous when someone, whether A. or not, needs generosity. Maybe that's what friendship is, or that unknown ____ I struggle to define. A challenge, since nobody asks anything of me on a personal level.
Ask me, I beg of you.