Sunday, June 17, 2007

Both sides of the rainbow....

Yesterday was a great day! It really turned out well. As usual, it takes me a day or so to kind of process through my experiences and let them meld into an overall picture.

When I got there, I decided to call a friend who lives in Midtown. I rarely get to see her because my trips to Midtown are few and far between. I live in Arden/Arcade and that is usually where I can be found. Occasionally, I go to the Asian markets in South Sacramento but overall, I'm a creature of habit, doing my thing in my own part of the world. Since I don't drive, it's difficult for me to roam around the entire city.

Tina was home, as I'd imagined she would be. If there is a more confirmed agoraphobe in the world, I don't know her. Tina rarely goes out much of anywhere. I knew there was a chance she would turn me down but since she's been on my mind lately and when someone is on my mind that much, there's usually a reason, I called anyway. (My English teacher is flipping over in her grave at that sentence! Sorry, Mrs. S. :)

Amazingly, she said she would like to come. We made an agreement as to where and when we'd meet and I wandered over that way to make sure I was in the right place at the right time. There's nothing more annoying than having to find someone in a sea of people so I take my "I"ll be here" pretty seriously!

I saw Tina walking down the street and began to walk toward her. Her eyes were flitting from place to place and obviously she wasn't entirely comfortable with the crowd. There was quite a turnout and after awhile, everyone looks the same.... just asses and elbows. There were plenty of non-crowded places on the edge of the celebration where she would be comfortable though. I resigned myself to going there. This crowd was okay with me but I understand the aversion to crowds in general.

I walked a bit faster to catch up to her and she looked at me initially with a blank stare, like she didn't recognize me.

Once greeted, she recognized me but immediately commented that I didn't look like myself.

"I barely recognized you!" She wasn't smiling.

"Oh, well, I've lost a few pounds. Maybe that's it? I hope! I hope," I kind of laughed but felt vaguely uncomfortable.

She gave me a half-smile that wasn't very authentic and said, "Where's all your Thailand stuff?" It came out as a veiled accusation.

"Oh, um. Well, I just didn't do it today."

The truth is that sometimes I can't do it. I bloat up like a whale when my blood pressure is out of control. That happens on occasion and when it does, I get edema. The ankle bracelets, as an example, are off. They will cut off the circulation to my feet and it becomes very painful. Seriously. Painful. I can barely walk! This is a chronic health condition involving my heart and circulation. I don't screw around with it! I've already had a minor stroke and I'm not going for the Big One! The truth is that I am not aging gracefully by any means but have come to peace with it.

I called my doctor. He changed my BP meds and put me on a diuretic. So I gobble Procardia and Furosemide and wait it out. In a few weeks, I'll be fine. The ankle bracelets will go back on. I didn't feel like explaining the details of my medical history to someone who is basically a casual friend though. Thai clothes are often fitted in a way that can be uncomfortable when I am having this condition. I love the look as much as others seem to love it on me. On the other hand, I'm not going to have an identity crisis if I can't do it for a week or two. I put on khaki walking shorts, a loose fitting t-shirt, sensible shoes, limit myself to one instead of four pounds of jewelry and shut up.

The thing that really struck me with this though is that Tina seemed angry. It is as though I stepped out of her expectations and she was clearly disturbed by it. It is as though she thought I'd changed internally somehow.

It got me to thinking about how friends can sometimes become disconcerted when we change unexpectedly. Other people's changes really don't bother me much unless it is a change that I see might be making the person unhappy or may be a reflection of discontentment. I'm far more likely to notice someone's emotional state, far more than any external trapping.

In her own way, I think Tina was expressing concern for me. Her social skills are even more limited than my own, so I want to give her that benefit of the doubt.

Anything else would be too much to handle. I don't think I can be locked into someone else's expectations to such a degree that I am not free to adapt to my circumstances, whatever they might be at any given time. I'm not sure I can have a friendship with someone who wouldn't support me in that.




flutter said...

What an odd reaction. I think I would have hugged you and said hello.

Julie Pippert said...

Does she often just blurt out what comes to mind?

My ILs suffer from that.

Strike that, it's usually me doing the suffering.

I wonder if she worried that *something* integral had changed and you hadn't told her? Or felt awkward because she almost missed you, barely recognized you?

Either way, yeah, it does seem a little like discomfort because you altered outside her expectations.

Does she often associate what something is by how it looks? Does she get anxious?

I agree with flutter...a nice hug and hello might have worked better. :)

I think you make a good point about why we do what we do.

And I hope the edema recedes quickly.

meno said...

I wonder if her anxiety about being out and about made the fact that you weren't quite what she was expecting harder to deal with politely.

Glad you had a great time anyway.

crazymumma said...

Interesting how preconcieved notions die so hard. I think it sounds like her agoraphobia tips over into her expectation of how she NEEDS the world to be and you turned over her apple cart.

In my time, I sadly have lost a few friends because I shifted personal paradigms. Or appearance. And they just could not handle me not being who they had always known me to be. Motherhood brought on a huge shift in friendships, but even before that, when I was younger, and as I became more sure of myself, I lost some friends who really just wanted me to stay shy and insecure.

Its a mad world.

slouching mom said...

I'd guess that her anxiety about being out in a crowd caused her to speak abruptly and oddly.

Being anxious really does a number on social skills.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I guess clothes really do make the woman.

Tabba said...

I get the impression that something else was on her mind....Something else must have been bothering her.

Anonymous said...

Hope your condition resolves quickly. I'm glad that despite the unusual greeting, you had a good time overall on your outing.

KC said...

I hope you feel better soon. Be careful with procardia- one of its side effects is lower extremity edema in some individuals.I've had to switch people off of that because of the swelling.

thailandchani said...

Flutter, I think it kind of scared her to see me differently. She is a rather fragile person in some ways. Smart as all heck.. and very sweet.. but kind of fragile.


Julie, I can't help but think that my change on the outside made her wonder if I'd changed inside. As I mentioned above, she is a bit on the tender side in many ways.

Thanks for the wishes on the edema. It really is a pain in the... ankles. :)


Meno, yes.. I think that was it, too. I really should call her in a few days and make sure she's okay....


CM, I'll bet change of many kinds scares her. It wasn't really the clothes. She probably felt like I might not be the same person. It's kind of funny but I have a weird effect on people sometimes. They count on me to be a certain way. They like me for a certain reason and when I don't appear to be that way anymore, they get anxious.


SM, definitely. If we'd been in her livingroom, she wouldn't have asked the same way. She probably would have said, "don't you like the Thai stuff anymore?"


Susan, apparently to her they do. :)


Tabba, I really should call her and find out. Maybe after she's had a chance to get over her afternoon of crowd immersion. :)


De, thanks. I know I'll get better. It's just a matter of balancing these stupid meds!


KC, yeah.. I think the reason he gave me the furosemide is because of that. I used to take some other BP med which made me feel like a zombie and obviously didn't do its job very well. I had a TIA! LOL

This stuff... gettin' old ain't for sissies. :)




Snoskred said...

I never realised how bloated I was until I once started taking Guarana ( if you're not sure what that is, it's like a herbal supplement) on the advice of my excellent doctor who never spent less than 45 minutes with a patient to make sure he was checking everything out. I was really low on energy after having the flu a few times in a row and he recommended the Guarana as a temporary solution and as an alternative to caffeine. I did not realise (and he did not think it would be an issue because I did not look bloated to him) that it was also a diuretic. The extra energy was fantastic, but the extra trips to the toilet not so welcome.

I agree with everyone else that it seems other things were on her mind - or perhaps it was just that she was so surprised by not seeing the usual you. I've tried to write this a few ways right now but am having trouble saying it in a way that makes sense, so let me explain it like this.

When I was in school, we had a music teacher who was a bit of a hippy. She used to wear all the love beads and the hippy style of clothes, it's hard to describe that style but it is quite distinctive, she wore a lot of crystals and bracelets and anklets and toe rings etc. Then one year she must have had a style makeover or something, and she shocked the heck out of all of us by turning up in corporate style clothes, not a crystal in sight. I have to say not one of us recognized her, and it was like it was a different person. I don't think any of us knew what to expect from her. The change in clothes surely had us thinking that she was different on the inside too.

Sometimes we just get so used to people being the way they are, when they show up differently to our expectations, it is so surprising that we blurt out our thoughts without thinking and I think that is what happened here. Probably the fact that she's not comfortable in crowds accounts for the apparent anger - maybe she was not expecting it would be so crowded.

Mike M said...

Great story Chani. You tell your stories very well. I jealous

Mary said...

I think I would have point blank said, "What's up with your attitude?" I'd make her talk. Sounds like she needs to...

You have a great outlook, Chani. One pound of jewelry vs. four pounds doesn't change a thing :o)

Seems like you have a very good handle on your health.

Christine said...

That was a strange reaction, but her fear of crowds may have had something to do with it. Maybe she needed something extremely familiar, and she was surprised not to find it. But it is weird when we don't fit someone else's expectations of us. Kind of leaves us feeling doubtful of the friendship and ourselves.

QT said...

I think being in the crowd, she sought a familiar face, and it threw her off to have you look different than what she remembered. I'm with slouching mom - anxiety can make people a bit socially inept.

thailandchani said...

Snos, I can understand the alarm of seeing a previously bohemian teacher beginning to look like a corporate wonk.

Must admit: that would probably scare the crap out of me, too! LOL

Clothes do communicate something. I'm aware of that and it is part of the reason I chose my style.

I just don't want to think it would make anyone uncomfortable because I slack sometimes. It does take time to get that look together. When I don't feel well, it's too much trouble!


Mike, thanks. :) That's a nice compliment.


Mary, when I do talk with her (after the cold is gone), I will explain to her that I haven't changed.. I'm the same person she's known all along. She probably just needs some reassurance.


Christine, when I started this.. the whole Thai thing.. I did it for a couple different reasons. First, because I like the look and enjoy it. Second, because it is an outward manifestation of my inward commitment to the Thai way of life. It's mindful.

I never considered it to be something others would get accustomed to.. or become anxious if I don't!

But.. as I said earlier, I do seem to draw a degree of that from *some* people.. and that's okay. As long as it doesn't get out of hand, to a point where I feel like my energy is being sucked out.


QT, I agree. There's something about familiarity.. and she is so isolated generally.

It's okay. I just need to make sure SHE knows everything's okay. :)




MsLittlePea said...

She might have been concerned that something was wrong since you were not dressed as she's accustomed to seeing you. I've known people to change their appearance when something major was going on like cut their hair really short or put on dark colors. Maybe for her your identity has a lot to do with your Thai clothing and she was put off by the sudden change.

Anonymous said...

If she really does have a problem being out in public, it then speaks volumes that she'd agree to meet with you. Nevermind her reaction. People who live in tiny little worlds are not usely happy with anything different than the way they remember them being. I think it speaks volumes about you that she wanted to be with you. Cece

Snoskred said...

Chani wrote - "I just don't want to think it would make anyone uncomfortable because I slack sometimes. It does take time to get that look together. When I don't feel well, it's too much trouble!"

I wonder though, had she ever seen you on a day it was too much trouble, or had she always seen you decked out in the full array of Thailand Gal? ;)

If she'd never seen you in "plain clothes" before, then I think her attitude and probably shock at seeing you is probably more understandable. Do you feel a bit naked without all your Thai gear? Maybe that comes across, too. ;)