The worst day of the year for me: the official last day of summer. This is no joke in my world. Saying good bye to summer is like saying good bye to my dearest friend. While the city I live in leaves MUCH to be desired in the summer temperature area the end of summer on the calendar still marks the beginning of the school year, the coming of winter (and you know how I feel about winter. I can’t even), and a new pace and rhythm to life.
Ironically, this new season means I get to slow down a tiny bit. Summer has been jam packed with work, passing my husband in the night as I head home and he goes to work, and lots of caffeine. I absolutely love my work. I am privileged to have a job, have sick leave, enjoy my co workers and earn holiday pay each week. But that said working 6 days a week for the last 4 months has been no joke. I was texting with a friend in America about a month ago and she said she wished we were sitting just chatting about life. I realized in that moment that I hadn’t actually done that all summer with a friend. Working full time is an amazing gift, but it does not leave much room for anything else in my life except my family and very few others.
One of our favorite friends came over with her kids last week and it was the first time since before summer began that we coordinated our schedules to hang out. She is my do nothing friend, my sit on the couch and laugh friend, my don’t have to impress friend, my house is messy friend, my effortless friend. Had it really been 3 months since we had laid eyes on each other? How does that happen?
Saying yes to people and things means you are saying no to other things. In the last 3+ years in Dunedin I have begun to be okay with the answer no. I said no to many opportunities this summer, to a lot of house cleaning, to most of the cooking and a big fat no to the gardening and no to most friends that were free to catch up.
I don’t work because I have to, I work because I am good at what I do, I love the place in people’s lives that I am privileged to be in because I put so many hours in at work and I work because I want my little boy to see me going after things that are important to me. So I am okay that I said no to about 90% of housework, but the downside of saying yes to work was the little time I had for friendships. Friendships look different in my late 30’s, but they are still so important. The way I make it work for me in this time of life is a lot of iPhone apps. Thank God for Apple. Seriously. I have had many a heartfelt chats over an app this summer, sent texts when I was beginning to lose it and had funny pictures and messages pop up at the exact moment I needed a laugh. It is good for my soul to stay in contact with friends with so much history. It has been over 20 years since I laid eyes on my closest friends friends for the first time as nerdy and nervous 18 year olds starting out at college. We have hit the stage in life when we will have known each other longer than we haven’t. That is a gift.
But. There’s always a but though isn’t there? As the summer ending rapidly approached and that last weekend feeling like that the last bit of sands in the hourglass, I found myself not talking to anyone. I could feel the sadness looming starting about Thursday. A change was coming, a new unknown, a Med School year that will be harder than the last. I felt my armor rising to protect myself, to brace myself for a year with a husband devoted to study. The healthy thing to do would be to let someone in, text someone and let them know the fear is hovering, the sadness is settling. Leave a message and let someone have the privilege of walking with me as I face a new starting line. I am beyond lucky to have the depth of friends in my life that would drop anything to hear my heart or at least see the message on their phone and make time to really hear me. So as Saturday afternoon hit I made healthy life choices. And by healthy I mean I did none of those things. I escaped in books and shows the entire weekend. I curled up with the iPad (the one that must leave me and go back to Med School with my husband) for one last beautiful weekend. And I felt more and more sad as Sunday night approached.
Weird I know. Of course taking myself outside of friends would not be helpful. As I laid in bed Sunday night I realized that in my fear of the unknown of this next school year I made a perfect little barrier to protect my heart from feeling neglected or too sad as a new school year started. Dang you fear, dang you old defense mechanisms, dang you life. The next morning I got up, had one of those comical crazy mornings, shoes couldn’t be found, clothes were not right, yelling that it is time to go over and over and then the rush to school to make sure everyone was on time. My husband was on time, barely, but as I looked at my little four year old in the back seat I knew what we had to do–go get a coffee. So while it was 9am, the official start to Kindy, I turned right instead of left and held my little boy’s hand while we strolled into Starbucks and then arrived 12 minutes late to school. I hate being late, but it was my way of being in the moment, my way of saying “Schedule you don’t own me I own you, I am in control and you are not controlling me this year.” I dropped my son off, waved at the window and took a deep breath. A new thing is usually less scary than the anticipation of a new thing, why do I always forget this?
I called two friends as I got in the car and told them about my morning and my fear and my silly hiding and invited them into my world of crazy and scared and unknown and then only then did I begin to feel a bit better. I love being authentic, I crave authenticity from others, but for me being vulnerable is tough. Being vulnerable when I am scared or unsure is not my best quality. This Med School gig is tough and if I don’t let friends in my heart will drown, so as the year started I said good bye to the weekend where I did it pretty bad and took one tiny brave step and let those friends into see how nervous I really was, I text my do nothing friend and made sure she could come over this week and I drank my Starbucks trusting that this year was going to be good, hard, funny, bad, stressful, hurtful, full and all the other true things that happen in life. But c’mon with friends and a Starbucks in your hand you can conquer anything, right? I think so! So third year of Med School with all your scary unknowns and financial questions and tests and study take that! I got this! Vulnerable, friendship, authenticity and Starbucks! Here we go, another year I am ready for you now!