Short Conversation In The Paint Aisle

Do not be too often in your neighbors house, or he will hate you….”  Proverbs

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I still get a tightening in my stomach when I think about you stopping by our house Sunday afternoons to visit.  You were in town visiting your mom at the care facility, so it only made sense to stop by our place once in a while…Once in a while…not every three or four weeks.

This morning when I encountered you in the paint aisle at True Value, I hadn’t seen or talked with you in  three  years.

Just last week I mentioned to my wife I am still thankful you no longer stop…

I know that probably sounds harsh and unloving, but I always felt like you’d sucked the life force out of me after you left.

One of the last times you stopped, we were  getting ready to leave for a wedding reception.  I still had to get cleaned up and dress with less than 30 minutes to spare.   Not wanting to hurt your feelings I mentioned now was not a good time to talk.

You just stood there and said, “Go ahead and get ready…”  No indication you were going to leave. That was probably the tipping point in my mind when I decided I’d had enough.

I told you, you had to go…

So this morning when I spotted you in the paint aisle and called out your name you  definitely did not seem happy to see me.

Me, well, I felt a little conflicted.

There is a real part of me that enjoyed our visits over the years when we talked about current events, history, whatever…  The fact that you do not see the world as I see it, made the visits all the more refreshing and engaging for me.

I love having my sense of perspective challenged.

But like I said,  our  encounter in the paint aisle  left me feeling conflicted

Perplexed at my own reaction.

A part of me misses our bantering and a bigger part of me is thankful that chapter in my life is over.

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13 thoughts on “Short Conversation In The Paint Aisle

  1. It’s interesting that you were the one who initiated contact. If you wanted the person out of your life, why go out of your way to say hello? I supopse it was that lingering ambivalence you talked about.

    Your “once in a while” must be longer than mine, too. Three or four weeks sounds pretty once-in-a-while-ish to me, but I suppose it would have been different if it had been someone you really wanted to see. There are people I’ve met who could show up once and it would be too often. 🙂

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    • I came around the corner and there he was 15 feet away. In my mind, my first thought was, when he turns around, this may be awkward, and my first thought was rather than passively wait to see what his first response would be was to take the bull by the horns and at least be cordial. Believe me, every three or four weeks was way too often. While there was a part of me that enjoyed our times..they went on and on and on and on…one of those people that either lacks or ignores the non-verbals that signal it’s time to wrap things up. like I said in the post, the interactions left me drained. 3 hours of active listening will do that to me. Now if there was a healthy ebb and flow of a good conversation, 3 hours can be sweet. These were not sweet, they were work.,…

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  2. I am so curious why every three or four weeks was too often. Why you called out to him/her in the paint aisle. Why you were conflicted. What did they do (or not do). You said you enjoyed the bantering. What didn’t you enjoy?

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  3. Your anecdote is comforting to me. There is someone I’ve known for 27 years. Our husbands worked together at one point. She and I did not have the same work ethic, spiritual beliefs, hobbies… there are several differences.
    But she occasionally visits, like once a month. Each visit involves her going to the porch to have a smoke. I do not follow. I have a heart condition. Will not sit around smoke. She has a habit of walking back in, getting a second cigarette, and asking me to join her. So determined to chat with me, she stands outside the screened porch, smokes, and asks more about what I am doing rather than having anything new to share.
    I’m not the same person I was when I met her. I may be wrong, but I think she is the same person she was 27 years ago.
    I’m tired of trying to find a connection to keep the “friendship” going.
    She is moving to St.Pete, has encouraged me to visit.
    I’m conflicted about this. I don’t want to, but I don’t want to say “No, not happening, nice knowing you.”
    I think the season of the friendship is over. Maybe yours is too, with this person.

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    • I’m glad it’s comforting Susan…:-) All I knew when I decided to write that blog post was there was definitely some stuff going on in my head from this past friendship, and I thought if I started writing it out, maybe I could unpack some of the conflicted thoughts I had and make better sense out of it.

      In your case I can very much see why it feels like a season coming to a close. In my case it has already….this is the first time in my life where I have been thankful dozens of times on a Sunday afternoon, there was no “danger” of so and so, showing up, unannounced with the intention of an extended visit. the thing is, I am not bitter, I don’t harbor any unforgiveness..rather I feel like a used up dishrag that is just plain tired. Does that make any sense?

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  4. I have found that situations and relationships like that teach me more about myself – what I will tolerate, what I enjoy, what I don’t – than anything else. Your story reminded me of someone with whom I’d limited contact and that greasy guy feeling I got the next time we ran into each other. I didn’t rescue the situation, I left a big fat gap between us and she didn’t step forward. That’s when I knew I was right to pull away. It’s called survival tactics and I give you permission to use them 🙂

    PS 3-4 weeks is way too often for me, too

    Cheers! MJ

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  5. I’m very sad to say I feel this way about my own mother more and more. I call less and less. She rarely calls. We don’t have conversations. She does all the talking, never asks how I’m doing. It makes me sad. She’s drifting further away as time goes on. Just one more reason I don’t like to get attached.

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    • That’s a hard one Michelle. We have a friend from New Jersey who had a similar relationship with her mom all the years we knew her and I know it affected her.

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