When my family moved to California, I was nine. My parents didn’t worry about my transition to a new school, new friends, and new life. After all, I was textbook Social Butterfly. But for whatever reason, I could not navigate this new social terrain, where we no longer had a “village” and my parents were too busy, too overwhelmed, too timid, too…everything to make an effort to build one.
I was involved and made friends, but they changed year-to-year depending on who was in my class or on my soccer or softball teams. I floated, never settling into any one clique. Come middle school, there were even more people and cliques to explore, but never any that were quite the right fit.
By high school, I was still on my quest to find where I fit in. It wasn’t until Junior year that things started to come together. I made a best friend and we were inseparable...until she found herself a boyfriend. In the interim, I had forged relationships with some other ladies and by Senior year we suddenly all “cliqued.” We shared inside jokes and spent Friday and Saturday nights graduating from wine coolers to six- and, all too soon, twelve-packs of cheap light beer. Eventually, our activities crossed the line from socially acceptable to downright illicit, shocking even our own sensibilities at times. But of this, there was no doubt: we were birds of the same feather.
|You just wouldn't understand.|
That is, until we graduated. After I spent a week away for my brother’s college graduation, I returned home expecting to pick up where we had left off just before Grad Night. To my dismay, my friends didn’t feel the same. While I was gone, they had decided that they would be better off without me. I no longer had a place with them.
I got dumped.
Fortunately, my summer was saved by some gracious souls whom I had sang, danced, and/or worked with, and was welcomed to run along with their pack as though I had been one of their kind all along. Unfortunately, there was still college.
My exes and I were all going away to the same place. They arrived ahead of me to attend community college, while I followed a month later to attend the university. And better yet, we were to be neighbors: my off-campus dorms were next door to their apartment complex, which doubled as a shortcut home from campus. It didn’t take very long to run into them walking to and from the first parties of the school year.
There were empty apologies given and received, but despite our proximity to one another, it was pretty clear that we were in different worlds already. Besides, I was still nursing my wounds and utterly incapable of being myself around them any longer (I was, after all, the reason they broke up with me).
Now deeply entrenched in those things that were once naive experimentation, my exes became something of a cliché to me and we mostly went our separate ways, only crossing paths when I needed to prove my moral superiority to myself. I eventually lost touch with all of them but one.
At times I am reminded that there is a bigger plan for me. In a given moment, I’m not likely to understand why I was dumped or rejected or turned down for some opportunity, but in time I am able to see the forest for the trees.
So today I am thankful for blessings in disguise.