Friday, May 18, 2007

His, mine, and ours

I met my X in college. We were in the same major, the same classes, and we had the same close group of friends, mostly guys, and everyone was friends with everyone else regardless of relationship status. The fact that he and I were "coupled" mattered very little. We hung out as a group. College as commune, if you will. Except for a few awkward periods of time when someone in the group broke up with someone else in the group, all was hunky dory.

After we got married (two days after graduation and coincidentally nine years ago this past Saturday. My brother called me to congratulate me on my "un-iversary." How and why he even remembered that date considering he was about 12 at the time is beyond me.) we moved to another state for graduate school. We weren't in the same program, or even in the same part of campus, but we somehow had a few of the same classes and my friends were his friends and vice versa. When I quit grad school, I went to work as an administrative assistant in his program, so that became even more the case. And since it was still technically college, there wasn't a lot couple stuff. There were definitely couples, but they were more the exception than the rule. And since most of us were grad student poor (po' was more like it), there were a lot of people with roommates, making instant non-coupled couples. Ergo, get-togethers were still group related and not based on relationship status. In fact, for us already in relationships, it was kind of fun to see others "hooking up" and still in the early stages of dating. At the ripe old age of 22, I felt full of wisdom and able to impart advice should it be asked for.

After we moved to NH, I worked for a temp agency. I was transient staff person while my X was forming another group of grad student friends. (Between the two of us, we have alot of degrees.) One of my jobs was a nine week stint as a receptionist in a cubicle answering a phone that never rang and receiving people who never came. I had phone headphones and had a couple of incidents like Toula Portokalos in
My Big Fat Greek Wedding where I forgot myself, walked away, and got yanked back. Those were the moments where I was happy to be completely isolated from everyone else. However, after about the 7th week I watched a documentary on the Discovery Channel or TLC about men in solitary confinement. I almost cried with lived empathy. "I know what you're going through!" I said to the tatooed murder/rapist/bad guys on the screen. Obviously, I needed a real job with real people. Since none was forthcoming, I confronted my X and said, "I know you aren't social, but I'm going completely mental. Please introduce me to some people." And he did. Once again, his friends became mine.

Later, when I got a real job, I worked with only 2 other people, one of whom was my boss and coincidentally the most negative person on the planet. Because of that, I didn't really have a lot of ways to meet people not connected to my spouse for about 2 years.

That changed when I started working for the college I currently work for. All of a sudden, I had my own circle of friends independent of his. As my relationship with my X started to go sour (i.e. my X played more and more Dungeons and Dragons and I had to entertain myself), I got to know people that he didn't know. I was forced on some level to live the life of a single person. I didn't care if my X accompanied me to events and social outings and he seemed to prefer not to be invited anyway. So, I cultivated friendships with other fancy free ladies. I'm glad I did because they saved me when I was going through the divorce and the great dating frenzy of 05-06.

Now, however, I am in a relationship where we each come with our own distinct set of friends. Mine are still mostly single ladies, or women who, when they go out, want to go out with the ladies. His are married couples, mostly known through the man. So far, we have not discovered any overlapping circles of friends, which, given the other coincidences in my life (my X moving in with his new girlfriend/mother of his child 4 doors down from Friendster Guy anyone?) is surprising.

Because we ourselves are a couple, the natural pattern is to fall in with other couples. It's easy. Two and two make four. No one is the odd man out. Clean and simple. But because my friends are less coupled, I'm having difficulties integrating my life as part of a couple into my life as a friend of many single ladies. With the added bonus of Friendster Guy's funky schedule that can change to include extra shifts with little notice it's difficult to make plans with anyone. As such, we've had a tendency to hang out more with his friends. He knows his schedule and can control it more than I can. Plus, his friends understand the funky schedule. They live it too. If I make plans with my friends to interact with FG (as I did on Cinco de Mayo), it is quite possible for FG's schedule to mean he can't make it (as happened on Cinco de Mayo.)

I'd love for my single gal pals to interact with FG. However, three is an odd number for a reason. I'm afraid that if we go out, someone will feel left out. Either the gal pal because I'm in the relationship, or FG because, let's face it, my gal pals and I can talk. And talk. And if I make it a foursome, good lord, poor FG and three women? His head would explode - although he would learn some things.

I know I need to just chill and let the interactions happen. So what if there are only 3 of us? Or 3 girls and one FG? The only way his friends and my friends can become our friends, is to let it happen. I'd love to do that, but it's easier said than done.

No comments: