Coming Down From A High

Vancouver is a beautiful city. It’s modern and sparkles like the snow on the peaks of the mountains that surround it on three sides. On the fourth side is the Pacific Ocean. The ocean sparkles, too.

At 9:00 p.m. Central time, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, my friend Laurie and I debriefed each day of my Vancouver adventure.

Laurie has a life full of people—her partner, her two sons, and many, many friends, neighbors, clients, and former clients who call her, email her, text her, saying, “I need to talk to you.” Laurie and I have been friends for over thirty years. Being able to talk to her almost every night for almost an hour was a gift.

And then I came home.

The standard post-vacation malaise slithered in like a slick centipede. No more eating every meal out. No more hikes with friends among giant trees. Snow-capped mountains were replaced with a mini-mountain of dirty laundry.

Laurie and I talked the day after I got back, but I knew we would return to a much less frequent schedule. I loved Vancouver but that might have been my last trip there.

I cried every day.

After a week of crying, I sat myself in my big chair and tried to figure out what I was feeling, what was making me so sad.

I was lonely.

Because the blue cloud was hovering at the window, I needed to take action to protect myself, to bolster myself. Me needed to take care of Me.

painting of a woman holding a child protectively

Because I wrote a handbook about what to do after a sudden lessening of affection, I knew what to do. My situation and solution could be described as something of an equation:

Decreased Affection from a Friend requires Increased Affection from Friendlies

Two years of interacting via Zoom instead of face-to-face had stunted my affection proprioceptors. Action was needed. But first, I needed a lifeline.

I emailed my writer friend and said I wanted to use my time on our upcoming Tuesday call to brainstorm activities I might do, because I’ve been lonely.

She wrote back to say she was sorry I was lonely, and that she would be happy to brainstorm with me.

Rather than start from scratch, I wrote some ideas as a jumping-off place:

  • dancing
  • line dancing
  • choral singing
  • drumming
  • volunteering
  • part-time job
  • French class
  • volunteer at the library
  • yoga class
  • ashtanga yoga class

On our call, I shared my list. My friend must have had some reactions to some of my ideas, but instead of sharing her opinions, she asked questions.

The result of her questioning was not a list of more or better ideas, but criteria for any activity:

  1. With people—plural
  2. More physical; less mental
  3. Balance of give and take

With those criteria, independent dancing in a crowd came off the list, but line dancing stayed on. Volunteering got more specific. Joining another board would meet criteria #1 but not #2, and I might give more than I would get, so maybe not #3.

My friend and I agreed that rather than pick an activity and dive in, I will explore. Each week I will do one new activity, starting next week. Having this agreement with my friend makes me accountable.

Next Saturday, I’m going drumming.

Chewing the Cud of Good

abstract from white peony petals
Thankful for friends who listen.

white and pink peonies

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