Friday, July 30, 2010

Making Connections

Children are amazing creatures. Their flexibility…their adaptability...I am in awe of them. My sister Jennifer, her husband, and seven-year-old son Jonah are in Morocco right now. Her husband, Radouane, is from Morocco, and they are there for five weeks visiting his family for the first time since they were married. I miss my sister terribly (Jennifer—it’s time to get your skinny ass back home now!). Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to talk to her much since she’s been away, but have managed to steal a few glimpse into her travels via updates and pictures she has posted on Facebook. I was initially worried for Jonah--being taken away from everything that was comfortable and familiar to him for five long weeks. However, my worries were apparently in vain (as most of my worries tend to be). Jonah is having the time of his life! According to my sister, the cousins and neighborhood children have taken an instant liking to Jonah. He even has a new “best buddy” there, Walid. So why is that amazing? Why am I in awe? Jonah doesn’t speak a word of Arabic. And the children he has instantly bonded with do not speak a word of English. The kids have managed to overcome barriers of language and culture and country and status to become friends. It took mere moments for them to find common ground…common interests…and begin playing together.

Walid (L), Jonah (R)

So why can’t we, as adults, build friendships as easily? Why can’t we overcome differences? Why can’t we find common ground? It is a skill we possessed as children. That ability to instantly connect with another human being. So what happened to us? Jonah was in Morocco a few short days before finding a best buddy. I have been in Minnesota thirteen years and still struggle with making new friends.

This may come as a surprise to many of you…or none of you, perhaps…but I am not nearly as witty or interesting in real life as I appear to be in my blog. I struggle with self-doubt, self-consciousness. I worry about what others think of me, despite wanting to be an “I don’t give a shit” type of girl. I am shy. Actually, little kids are “shy.” Adults are socially inept, right? I am klutzy (I was the only one who fell in the lake last weekend, if you recall). I don’t watch much television these days, as my attention span has deteriorated to the point of non-existence in recent years. So don’t try to talk to me about Project Runway or Glee. I will only stare at you blankly. I haven’t read a book in months, though I used to be a voracious reader in my past life. Therefore, literary conversations will go right over my head. I tend toward snarkiness. I believe in the basic decency of most people. However, most people get on my nerves. I think I am the only person in this entire state who knows how to drive a car. I talk about my kids more than I do current events. Ad nauseum, actually. I think my children are smarter than your children. As a matter of fact, I think they’re cuter than your kids, too. I am not an expert on anything, but I know just enough about many things to be dangerous. I am introspective to the point of being self-absorbed. I suck at decision-making....what's the correct term? Wishy-washy? I don't really have the time to cultivate deep friendships, but I would like you to be at my beck and call in the event that I do find a free moment and want to spend time with you. Yes, I am selfish. I am also anal and rigid and weird. I am a self-confessed dweeb….just ask my sisters. Wow…seeing it all spelled out right here in print, I have come to a stunning realization. I am quite the catch! Ruanita is one lucky, lucky woman!

So how does a self-absorbed, wishy-washy, dweeb make friends? How does one manage to see past differences and connect with other people? How does one put aside the worst in themselves to see the best in others? I am afraid I do not know the answer. I do not know the secret formula, or else I would be surrounded by legions of adoring fans. Alas, I am not.

Perhaps I should go to Morocco. Maybe I would fare better in a place where I do not speak the language….?


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