3.20.2009

What You Pass On (or Hopefully Don't . . .)


My sister Jan keeps in touch with everyone she has ever met. She isn't worried they'll judge her. She doesn't seem to care if they look at her and think, "You've gained a few pounds," or "You do what for a living?" She calls them up if she's in town and just starts talking.

I can't think of anything more intimidating. Consequently, there are tons of people I know that I will never, ever see again. I wish I could stop worrying what people think and just start calling people up. F*@k them if they judge me. They should be worried about what I think of them, right?

Yeah, right. I can't even call a friend I haven't seen for a year, even if she called me first. I just pick up, move on, and don't look back. I miss my old friends and there's a reason we were friends in the first place but I just can't make myself take a step. I can't even call a utility company when they get the billing incorrect.

I don't know how I survived as a realtor except it was fun to call other realtors. They love, love, love to talk. You barely finish entering in their phone numbers and they're already picking up the phone telling you about their car getting washed or something. If everyone was like that I wouldn't text so much.

Chey (yup, in the photo) calls me at midnight. "This better be good," I say. She's called me three or four times today already, even during her break at work. She's worried because one of her old swim team buddies, Jeli, is in Hawaii and wants to meet her. "I'm scared," Chey tells me. "I already made one excuse not to see her. I can't delay it again, can I?"

I didn't know she inherited this. She seems so much better with people than I am. Okay, that's not saying so much. Now that I think of it, everybody's better than me on the phone. Chey used to make me call her bank when she had an issue, but she was a kid so that's normal. She's so good with friends, and so good about keeping up with old friends. She could be my sister's daughter in these situations, or so I thought. Now she's acting just like me. Sorry 'bout the genes.

I tell her the things I tell myself. I say, "If she didn't want to see you, she wouldn't keep calling," and, "You can't lose and it might be fun." I've almost talked myself into calling someone I haven't seen for a while. "Okay," she says. "I'll meet her."

Even though Jeli is a wonderful, positive, gorgeous girl, her mom was my friend, too. Her mom and I weren't friends after whatever happened. I loved being friends with Jeli's mom. She was smart, interesting, and didn't care what people thought of her taste in music. She liked Bryan Adams and she only liked Bryan Adams. We carpooled to swim meets and I got to liking Bryan Adams, too. Every time I hear Bryan Adams, I think if Jeli's mom. She was such a good friend.

What happened was Chey went with Jeli's family to Guam. They were there for a month, helping Jeli's grandma die. That alone made the trip pretty tense, but what made it worse was that I left Chey's dad about three months before. It's hard to be with another family on vacation for a month when you're ten. It's harder when there's a catastrophe in their family. It's even harder when there's a catastrophe in your own. She came back and that was it until yesterday.

"I know it's late, but I had to call you," Chey says. "Jeli was great. She didn't make me feel like I had to apologize for the stupid way I acted when I was ten. There's a reason we were such good friends when we're kids. I feel like I missed out by not contacting her sooner. I miss her already."

There's hope: Chey might have been bequeathed* a few of my sister Jan's social genes. Maybe Chey can talk me into calling up one of my old friends.

Yeah, right. I can barely write that without laughing. Who am I kidding? I'm not calling anyone. I get nervous when the phone even rings. There's a reason email and texting was invented, and that reason is people like me.

*I took the "Which Writer are You?" test and ended up being Shakespeare. I figured I ought to use a Shakespearean word even though this test is just as stupid as the "Where Should You Live?" test which said a rain-hater like me should live in Seattle.