Nothing Gold

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. -Robert Frost

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Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

I am a white American middle class suburban housewife trying desperately to tell herself that that is not who she is. One time I was a glowing young ruffian. Oh my God it was a million years ago.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Christmas Vacation

One of the things I really appreciate about my friends here in the area is that it's okay to be sad around them. Why is it so hard for most people to be around sad people? It's like they think that one is actually doing something wrong by being sad. I didn't even realize how good I had it here until we went home for Christmas.
When we were with my dad in Seattle my sister Rachel was really sad. Her mom had just died and it was Christmas time. Of course she was sad. But my dad was acting really weird about it. He was trying so hard to cheer her up. He lost both his parents pretty young, how could he not understand? I guess she is his baby, and it's hard for him to see her so sad, but it was hard to watch him try to cheer her up and to see how that was kind of hurting her.
At Schuyler's parents house, his brother had sent a cute photo book saying something along the lines of "2006 was a great year, here are some things that happened...". Schuyler said something like, "2006 was a pretty crappy year for us". You should have heard the shocked silence in the room. It was almost as if he'd said, "I don't really think God has been good to us". His sister finally asked, "why?" incredulously. Schuyler responded with "Well... it's mostly been the last 3 or 4 months. Our good friends' baby died, we had a miscarriage and Maggie's stepmom just died this week." They just said, "Oh", were quiet for a little while and then changed the subject. The Christmas thank you card that his mom sent, said, "I hope that you can see God's blessings in your lives in 2007". I know she means it and loves us, but still. Sometimes things are bad. Why isn't that okay to admit?
Then, the day after Christmas, we were at a gathering of my extended family. At these gatherings, everyone is cheerful and only really talks about the good things going on in their lives. That's kind of natural, as we only see each other every so often, but it was tiring for me. I wasn't feeling cheerful and was sick of talking about how interesting it is to live in our nation's capitol. My cousin's wife was pregnant, my aunt's first grandchild, and everyone was excited about that. I know it's stupid and selfish, but I felt really fat (I've gained some weight recently) and not pregnant. My aunt asked me if we were planning on having more soon and I said I didn't know. I hadn't slept well the night before and all of this just made me go hide in the bathroom and cry a little. My mom found me and asked what was wrong. I tried to explain and she said, "You shouldn't be sad, sweety, you're going to have babies." I got mad and tried to explain some more including about missing my friends, because it's okay to be sad with them. She said that I really need to find some happier friends to hang out that won't be bringing me down. I gave up trying to explain and just said that I was tired so she started going on about depression and how I "come by it naturally" etc. I let her chalk it all up to depression, which is something she understands and can therefore not get too worried about, because she wasn't interested in understanding, or even in just being with me while I'm sad. She just wanted to make it better.

What is the deal with that? Why is it so common? Sadness and difficult periods are fairly universal, why do people act like they are unacceptable? Or only unacceptable to acknowledge?

To be fair, not everyone back home was like that. My sister Leah and my oldest friend, Jennifer were great. Being with them was a bit of a relief in what was a tiring 10 days.
But I would like to thank all my friends here for being so awesome. It's really hard to find a friend that you can be sad with and I seem to have many of those here. Thanks.


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5:03 PM  
Blogger Mike Croghan said...

As "bardgold" just amply demonstrated, the only "people" who are always happy and chipper are blog spam robots. :-)

Yeah, it's OK to be sad. One of the very few hurts that I've had trouble letting go of with family members is when they've been judgemental about other family members (including me, on one occasion) for crying at family funerals. Funerals, for God's sake! "You've got to be strong for so-and-so." "He's only a cousin - why should he be so upset?" Eff that crap! Let people feel what they feel!

Sorry, it's just something I feel strongly about. I am, after all, only 2% masculine. :-)

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for being that kind of friend. But, in truth, you are more like family to me.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

(I can't believe I just quoted scripture...sorry!)

8:15 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

wow, you pour your heart out, and someone throws a Bible verse at you! Typical. ;-)

Thanks for teaching me about this important part of being human, Maggie, and thanks for your openness and honesty.

9:47 AM  
Blogger kate said...

Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts, Maggie. I'm sorry 'vacation' was so hard. Argh. And you have to go through such effort and expense to get there! And then ... yeah. Blech.
I think sometimes people (read: people like me -- I'm so not good at this) don't know what to do. I mean, I certainly don't feel driven to make everyone happy -- as if anything I could say or do WOULD -- but I do want to help. And there's just no helping in some situations. So -- being silent? Being honest? -- I don't know. What do your friends who are good at this do? I would love to be that kind of friend, and I honestly want to learn how. Is it more of a vibe? A comfort with honest reactions and discussions of things? I kind of feel a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' sense about it all.
I'm sorry to dissect it so much. But I would love to have a better idea of what people need at these times.
(I also want to add -- you are a beautiful woman. Now, and certainly as long as I've known you. I know that's hard to believe of oneself, but it's very true.)

5:22 PM  

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