Month: April 2015

Two Ways

This post is all about me, because I begin to wonder if I’m just a selfish “git”–to use a word I learned from Harry Potter. Anyway, let me get to it. Thursday I had a long conversation with someone I used to call my best friend. For quite a while I have been questioning her stake in the friendship, and quite honestly, I’m wondering what my stake is anymore. Bluntly, she isn’t offering me much, and I guess I’m at this point in my life where I figure it would be nice for someone to ask me with genuine interest how I’m doing or whether I have exciting news or if I need to get something troubling off my chest.

In accordance with my view of Christianity, I try not to think about me, myself, and what I’m getting out of my interactions with other people. Sometimes I get self-concerned, and I try to remember the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

But here’s the thing about a friendship: If I’m not thinking about me, and you’re also not thinking about me, are we friends or am I your therapist? I’m writing here rather than addressing the person directly because the statements I’m making could not possibly do any good if made to her:

The last time I gave you a gift, you didn’t send me a thank you note or even a text message.

In fact, we didn’t speak on the phone until three months later, and you still didn’t mention it.

I don’t send gifts to get the thanks, but was the fact that I went out of my way for you and your children that meaningless?

Or is it that you feel entitled to it?

You’re not the only one who’s ever “gone through serious stuff.”

Of course, you wouldn’t know if I were going through anything, seeing as how you never ask.

You didn’t wish me a happy birthday this year, and I don’t think you even know that I got into the university of my dreams on that day! You most certainly didn’t congratulate me.

It’s not that you have to, it’s just that a ton of people I wouldn’t have expected to know or care were celebrating with me.

When was the last time you asked about K.? Or my parents? Or my ankle? Or anything in my life?

You have a lot of drama in your life. It seemed to be waning as we got older, got married, and you had kids, but really I don’t think it has. I’ve been sympathetic, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s just you. Maybe it’s the people in your life, but you chose them to be in your life, right?

You gossip. Maybe you’re not as bad as you used to be, but you do gossip. For all I know, you gossip about me to your other friends, and they think I’m a source of drama in your life!

We don’t have much in common anymore, especially since you’ve left the Faith. I’m open-minded and able to have friends who don’t agree with me on everything–my own husband is a non-believer–but if we don’t have a common faith in a common God, I don’t know what else we have.

You never come visit me. Maybe you don’t have enough money to, which is probably what you’d say if I actually said this to you. But the thing is you’ve found time and money to visit other friends and family far from where you live. I’ve traveled quite a distance to see you–twice. That isn’t happening again because frankly–

Forgetting all the other things I’m not even writing out to get off my chest, I don’t believe you value me or my friendship.

I don’t really believe in burning bridges, and I don’t want to hurt your feelings. I especially don’t want you to misconstrue me as a self-righteous, judgmental Christian who abandons her friend as punishment for leaving the Faith. I’m really over you at this moment, but what keeps me from giving you a piece of my mind is the same Christ you no longer believe in. Part of me wants to be mean to you, cut you off, and never worry about you or your kids again. But the grace of God, which I have received, believe it or not, makes it impossible for me to do that. Even if I overrode my conscience and told you to buzz off, then cut you off on the telephone and email and social media, not only would I feel guilt for having done it all that way, but I would not cease to care about you and the girls.

I don’t know what I’ll do. I don’t think I’m being selfish though, really. I think you’re doing me no good, and if you really want my friendship, you don’t act like it. Why should I bother with you? I’m sure you can find someone else to talk to and never listen to, perhaps even someone with similar interests and life circumstances and things. I’ll try to give what I can though, as long as I can, in the spirit of St. Francis. I like that. But it won’t be the same as before. I’m not going to call anymore. I’m not going to pretend or hope we’re on a two-way street anymore, because I realize that we’re not. I hope things improve for you, and maybe I will even still be around if and when that happens. If I am, I’ll be glad, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to celebrate anything with you after all this.

I do try to keep it 100. May the Lord help you and me both.

I can actually calculate that for you when we get home, if you want.

Caltech’s Palomar observatory. Main item here is the 200 inch Hale telescope.

My husband and I returned home a few hours ago from a lovely trip to Mt. Palomar. We enjoyed quiet time together, watched and listened to lots of birds that don’t really live down in our neighborhood, and glimpsed, oh, several dozen stars that we couldn’t spot down here in San Diego. It was marvelous. The tree pollen was marvelous too, and that’s why we’re home a couple of days earlier than we’d planned–but it’s alright, because we were running low on food anyway, to be perfectly honest.

I wish I had more poetic words to tell how wonderful it was to see such a dark sky. What is really interesting is that what we call a “dark sky” is quite the opposite; a dark sky is actually full of lights and glowing patches, and even colors. Of course what we really mean is “dark place from which to observe the sky,” but I realize this is a silly line of thought I’m following. Anywho, we only had with us our eyes and a good set of binoculars, and still sky was amazing. In fact, even with a waxing gibbous moon like a giant, white spotlight shining from the sky, K. and I were both excited by how many objects we could see. Reading about astronomy and looking for what I can see from the city is one thing, but really seeing more in the sky than ever before, I just… maybe we’d all be a bit more religious or spiritual, or at least more inquiring, if more of us grew up in places where more stars were visible. It’s wonderful to open one’s eyes to the universe beyond our planet, sun, and moon.

There was a horse and a cat on the property where K. and I stayed. There were wild turkeys, deer, and all sorts of other woodland animals. The best part was, of course, time together away from civilization. On the way home, we got to talking about guard rails on roads. After a bit of discussion, K. wondered how far a car would fly off a cliff if it were driving 70 mph, and I said I could calculate it when we got home. Of course he wasn’t that serious about it, but it was just interesting because really it was the first time since my Introduction to Mechanics class that I ever wanted to use physics to answer a question in my life. Physics is pretty awesome…

But at the same time, I’m glad I’m going to be doing chemistry at UCSD. There’s just something about not having everyone assume you want to be an engineer. Of course, now I suppose half of my professors will talk to me as if I’m working on a medical school application. Doesn’t anyone just want to be a physicist or chemist or discoverer-of-things just because, and not in order to fulfill some financial, technical, or other objective? That said, I should go do math a bit before I return to sloth status with my dear better half.

P.S. I bought one of these at the Palomar Observatory gift shop:

Curiosity rover.

I know I didn’t talk about it specifically, but the observatory was amazing. I’d still like to make it to Mt. Wilson some time…