I get a lot of email. Yesterday I got over 80 messages in my gmail box (which is actually 5 accounts that come into one “box”). I have not checked other email accounts, but I imagine that yesterday I received well over 100 emails in all of my accounts together — closer to 200 if you include the account that houses emails from freecycle and DC Web Women lists.
In a typical week I receive maybe one personal email (not counting work emails or the emails that alert me to comments on my blog or emails from the email lists I manage asking how to do this or that). Sometimes I get a little annoyed that of all those emails none is directed personally to me. None ask how I am or what I’ve been up to. But then how many of those emails do I send out myself? Um… None?
So I was surprised and delighted when I received three personal emails yesterday all from women who have been important parts of my life.
The first email arrived around 8:30 am and was from a woman who was the principal at a school where I taught when we first moved to the DC area. She left the area, but we kept in touch for a few years. We lost touch for a while but Linked-In got us back in touch. The years I worked at her school were the best years in my teaching career. She was a wonderful principal and I’m glad she is working as a principal again. I’m envious of the teachers who work with her.
The second email was even more of a surprise, but should not have been since I’d sent an email to this person a few days ago. It was a surprise because more than half of me thought I would not get a response and as the days went by I expected a response less and less.
The email was from a woman who was my roommate when I first moved out of my parent’s house. I was a late bloomer, so that was when I was 23 or so. Maybe 24. She and I met in 1974 — she was a Jeremy’s schoolmate and friend. We were pen pals during the time Jeremy and I were a “couple” and after we broke up this woman came to the US for a visit. She liked it so much she came back as soon as she could and moved into an apartment with me on Mosley Street in Elgin. We had a bit of a rough time — I wasn’t used to roommates. I was envious of her blond hair, beautiful face and ease with other people. We parted on bad terms sometime early in 1980 and never spoke again.
Well, through a series of fortunate events (and my superior stalking research skills) I was able to obtain her email address (from her brother) and wrote her a brief and apologetic email on February 12.
She wrote me that she’d also been thinking about me and that she was happy that I found her and would like to keep in touch. She also mentioned she was in the hospital and had come close to not making it a few days ago. I pray for her speedy recovery. I still can’t believe we’re in touch again.
The third email was not really a surprise at all, because I’d emailed the sender yesterday morning. She was a neighbor when we lived in Alexandria and one of the few people I feel completely at ease with. I wish we’d see each other more often, but it just doesn’t happen.
Keeping in touch is something I used to be much better at. I used to have at least 3 pen pals at a time. Writing letters was a high point in my day. I rarely write letters anymore — finding addresses, putting stamps on them and sending them just seems too much bother. I’m better with emails but I don’t always remember to follow through. I’m going to try to remember my joy at receiving the 3 emails yesterday and be more conscientious about emailing people I care about more often. I might even write a real letter now and then.
[Update: The English friend is out of the hospital and at home. The clot was dissolved.]
It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I was able to understand my relationship with my mom. I’m still not sure I understand it fully — and it might not be until my kids have kids that I do, but it is getting a little clearer as the years go by.
One of the hardest aspects of the relationship is that of authority figure. I’m pretty sure that, from a very young age, I rebelled against authority figures — except I was too shy to rebel in front of anyone other than my family, so most of that rebellion manifested itself into rage at home when I was not given my way or disciplined in anyway. I had temper tantrums and screaming fits. I once picked up a pile of newspapers and as I went to fling them on top of a brand new dining room table realized that something very heavy was among the papers. I flung them anyway and put a dent in that table that is there to this day.
My mom wasn’t all that strict. In fact she was pretty lenient. I was a “good” kid for the most part, except for the tantrums at home. There were times, however that she put her foot down — or at least made suggestions that made me uncomfortable. Like the time she thought I should talk to the popular kids that were in the same store as we were. Or the time that she suggested I stop by the office at school to see if anyone turned in my lost purse that held my retainer because I’d lost so many retainers we were going to have to pay for the next one. I remember the feeling I had about those experiences. My chest felt tight, my throat closed up. I clenched my teeth and fists. My breathing quickened. I was mad. I didn’t want to talk to Laura Holtz. I’d already asked at the office about my lost purse. I didn’t need suggestions. I just needed to be left alone.
I don’t have temper tantrums much anymore. I still occasionally “lose it”, but not like the old days. I still have trouble with authority figures though. Basically, I don’t like being told what to do — especially if I was already planning on doing it or if I had reasons for not doing it. I also have trouble when I’m questioned about an action. I guess in that case I get defensive.
I don’t usually have trouble taking orders from someone who employs me. I try to do the job I’m given. I never had much trouble with teachers or professors — I expected assignments and did them. The authority figures I have the most trouble with are the ones that one day are my friend or associate and the next day are president of the PTA or a neighborhood or not-for profit-board member for whom I do some odd (volunteer) jobs. I have trouble when they give me assignments — or micromanage whatever tasks I’ve taken upon myself — especially if I’ve been doing it alone for years and they come in and want to change things. Sometimes, even, my anger can rise when a friend (or my husband) seems to be taking over something I’ve planned.
The anger is the same as what I felt when my mom would make suggestions. And I find myself thinking in a rebellious teenage voice, You Can’t Tell Me What To Do. You’re Not My Mother!
I never do say that aloud, but I don’t always handle it well either. Sometimes I explain my reasoning. Sometimes I reply angrily. Mostly I say nothing, take a deep breath and move on although occasionally I tweet about it or make it my Facebook status.