This morning I stood awkwardly with three other mothers from my neighborhood, as I waited for Noah’s bus to arrive.
Two of them have kids Noah’s age and the other is our next door neighbor. They are all very nice. They have all lived in the neighborhood for at least five years. And yet, the only one that I really know is our next door neighbor.
They were standing on the sidewalk in front of my house chatting when I went outside to wait with Noah. The bus had already picked up their kids.
I put my briefcase in the car and started it to defrost the windows. Then I stood their awkwardly wondering if I should go up to them or wait where I was. After a minute or so I slowly walked up to them, feeling even more awkward.
And I know it is so ridiculous that I feel that way. These are perfectly nice women. Women that I have made no effort to friend. That I don’t know how to friend.
We chatted for a few minutes about sick kids and how busy the next few months were going to be. Then Noah’s bus came and I excused myself to go to work. They were still standing there when I drove away.
I wonder what they think of me, if they think of me at all. I doubt they sense my awkwardness. I fear they think I am standoffish or strange. They know something is different about Noah because the “short” bus picks him up, but they never ask about it. I just know that our next door neighbor doesn’t want her kids to play with him, which given his past aggression with her middle son I don’t blame, although it still kills me a little inside.
I don’t know how to bridge this gap that I have created with the women in my neighborhood. I don’t know how to jump in and all of a sudden be one of them. I don’t think they would push me away, but at the same time I think they would wonder why suddenly I’m interested.
Later that day was when we received the email from Rich's brother about Thanksgiving and Noah. I cried. And then I picked up the phone, needing to talk to somebody. And I held the phone in my hand, looked at it, and cried harder because I had absolutely no one I felt I could call.
Every week in karate class there is a lesson. Our instructor sits down with us for a few minutes and tells a story and relates it to life. This week it had to do with how what we put out there comes back to us. He started it with a story about a child learning what an echo was. Then talked about how like tends to attract like. That people that act similarly tend to attract each other. That looking at your friends is like looking in the mirror in some ways. If you come home from spending time with a friend and frequently say, wow, he’s such a jerk, why do I go out with him, you might want to consider that maybe you are a bit of a jerk as well.
But what do you do if you have no friends? And don’t hang out with anyone? I look in the mirror and see nothing but a blank reflection.