At the beginning of the week, I spent time with my best friend of over 20 years, her husband of over 10 years, and their 6 month old baby.
These are my people.
I don’t live close to them (I don’t live close to any of my close friends). But, my friend and I traveled extensively together in our 20s and at various points in our lives we lived together. Her husband is exactly what the husband of your best friend should be: a completely separate person, but an extension of the love of a friendship.
I am truly happy when I am with them. I am not guarded. I am able to truly relax and admit who I am. And they accept me.
We talked about books we’ve read, scientific research that interested us, talked about North Korea (I don’t know why, but all of my close friends and I have always been fascinated by North Korea. It’s a thing. A tie that bonds, I suppose.), we ate Mexican food, we made Alexa turn the lights chartreuse and say ridiculous things, we watched episodes of The Dead Files on Netflix. We didn’t do anything “exciting,” just the regular stuff that decades long best friends do.
And the baby. So full of joy despite an impending tooth or 26. He is learning to sit up on his own from laying down. Sometimes gravity gets the better of him. He thinks my nickname (“JayPea”) is hilarious. He liked when I explained sciency stuff to him. He loves Harry Belafonte, but his absolute favorite song is Hey Ya by Outkast.
I temporarily felt like my old self again, even though my CRPS didn’t stop for a second. The visit renewed my hope that I could feel at ease, almost normal, concurrently to feeling everything that comes along with CRPS. If I have the right people in my life…
Before I left, my friend took a few photos of me with the baby.
Today, I went back to my regular swim schedule at the YMCA. Feeling renewed, hopeful, and happy. I talked to one of the regular swimmers, who possibly the closest thing to a friend I have at the Y. I told her about my visit and I showed her the photos of the baby, including one of me holding him.
I didn’t tell her that *I* was holding the baby; I assumed that would be obvious.
“Wow!” She said, “your friend is really pretty!”
“Uhm… That’s me…” I said.
“Oh, huh. I didn’t even recognize you.”
I mean… I wasn’t wearing a swimsuit, and I was wearing a little bit of make up… But really? She didn’t recognize me?
She has seen me roughly three times per week for over a year. In all that time, I guess she has ever seen me truly smile.
Am I really so miserable now, in my daily life, that I am unrecognizable if I am happy?