Last weekend I went to visit an old friend from college. It had been over three years since I’d seen her, thanks to life getting busy and then Covid interrupting everything. Fortunately, she’s the sort of friend whom I can go years without seeing and months without talking to, and we always pick up very comfortably where we left off.
She lives in a wooded and very lovely part of New Jersey, so we had all of these autumnal plans. We were going to take a nice long hike, go apple picking, attend a small Halloween gathering with her little girl, hit up a cool coffee shop in her town, and so on.
A number of the plans fell through, and it was my fault.
I was excited to see my friend and assumed I’d be up for a full weekend. But my friend and I got to talking soon after I arrived. She asked me a question that I often dread and should probably just learn to be OK with: “how are you?”
I answer the question easily enough when it’s asked in passing. But for the last few years, I’ve had a really hard time answering when friends ask me. This is because I know that they ask lovingly and want an honest answer, and most of the time I don’t want to get into how I am.
I started to cry as I responded, but in the end, my friend and I had a good talk. We caught up on a lot of life.
As soon as that happened, it was like a spell came over me. I became so, so sleepy. I kept trying to wake myself up so that I could play with my friend’s daughter or at least get to town for a coffee shop break. But I kept falling asleep instead. The following morning, I slept in three hours later than I normally do.
I kept apologizing for this. The urge to nap was so strong and came on so quickly that it was almost comical, and I started to feel self-conscious. My friend came over to the sofa where I had just woken up and said, “don’t be sorry. We [she and her husband] are really happy that you’re comfortable enough here to rest.”
Some friendships are built on so much trust and familiarity that it’s possible to be alone together. This was one of those moments. My friend knew that I was tired, that my body and brain and heart were working through stuff, and she was totally at ease with that happening in her home.
In the end, we didn’t make it apple picking. But I got some rest, and my friend seemed to enjoy knowing that she had created space for that to happen.
I’m still tired this weekend, but any frustration that I feel about it is softened by remembering how reassuring my friend was when I needed to rest. I’m going to give myself the permission she gave me to take it easy, and since I really didn’t read any news or browse the internet much this past week, I’m going to leave you without any links. I’ll be reading and sharing again next week, or as soon as I can.
I hope you give yourself permission to rest tonight, too, if you need it. And I’m wishing you a very happy Halloween!
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