11/22/09

Friends

CG and I arrive to Z's classroom's "Thanksgiving Feast" right on time but it seems all the other parents got there early. Z runs to me, clings to my legs, hopping up and down.

The room is small and filled with small furniture and small people so with E strapped to my chest and my big bag full of rolls and cranberry sauce on my back, I feel like a giant trying not to crush any woodland creatures. Parents have already begun filling their plates and chatting in small groups and I sweat my way through getting our contribution on the buffet and peeling Z off of me every two minutes.

I notice all the parents and kids are wearing adhesive name tags, something that we suggested might help at school events and I start scanning them for the names I recognize from Z's stories. Z sits at her spot at a low table, eating nothing but rolls and butter. None of the kids at her table speak to her. Two of them I don't hear utter a word the whole hour CG and I are there.

At the table next to ours, four girls bounce in their seats, chatting over top of one another, laughing and trading food. I recognize their names as "friends" of Z's from her stories. I also note that they are clearly at the older end of the age range of the classroom and clearly have strong friendships with each other.

"Z? Do you want to introduce me to any of your friends?"

"No."

"Okay."

At another neighboring table, more kids are giggling away, with their moms chatting above them. I try not to think about what I'm wearing when I glance at the moms' suede boots and highlighted hair.

The center director, obviously remembering me saying that we were having a hard time meeting people here, brings one of the suede booted moms over to me, introducing us to each other, although we've met before.

"Your daughters are the same age! I thought maybe Z and A would like a playdate sometime!"

The mom smiles faintly at me and we both stammer a bit about didn't we meet at back to school night?. She says something vague about her group of moms that get together and doesn't she have my email already?

I don't remind her that I've already emailed her about it. Twice.

On the way out, we pass one of the little girls who features prominently in Z's stories of the playground. The girls pass each other without comment and I replay some of Z's stories in my head, suddenly realizing that Z doesn't include herself in her stories of silly, happy playground activities.

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I arrive at the movie theater on time and scan the concession stand where I'm supposed to meet these moms from the large Meetup.com group. There are no clusters of mom-like people at concessions so I stand there for a few minutes, sweating, before continuing on to the theater which is already full of teenagers and moms and couples debating the relative merits of Edward Cullen and Jacob Black. I realize scanning faces won't help since I don't know who I'm looking for and consider sitting by myself before turning on my heels and going back out to the lobby, trying not to let any tears escape. Two women aren't far behind me and when we arrive at the concession stand, all three of us are scanning faces.

I try to smile like a normal person as I approach them and can't help shooting a quick glance at their feet.

No suede boots.

13 comments:

Ali said...

I feel for you. A new place is hard on everyone. I hope it gets easier soon. I am sure it will.

bat7mess said...

My heart just aches for you AND Z. At the risk of sounding like a psycho stalking blog dork, I am not all that far away from you and seeing as our girls are the same age, maybe we could have a play date some time. I do not own suede boots!

Amie said...

Oh this one pulled at my heartstrings. I moved a lot when I was little and it can be so hard to fit in to a new place--even as an adult.

Marie Green said...

Oh, man, a new place is SO HARD. You will find a group of kindred spirits, I JUST KNOW IT. And I know it b/c I live in a VERY SMALL TOWN, and though it took me for-EVAH, I *did* finally find my girls. I really, REALLY thought they didn't exist here, but alas- they do!

So were the others (without suede boots) from the meetup group too? Were you able to see the movie together?

Hang in there. And squeeze that little Z from all of us. (I can tell you that if you were closer, our girls would get along famously. Marin and Z would adore each other...)

desperate housewife said...

That preschool story made me feel so defensive and huffy for you. I want to snatch you all out of there and find a place where you can relax! Poor little Z... Toddlers really are just like teenagers, what with the mood swings and confusion and sudden feelings of independence, but they lack even a SEMBLANCE of social etiquette, so sometimes playground politics can be the most brutal, imo.
I think the meetup idea is a great one. I'm glad there were no suede boots!

Michelle said...

It's amazing that no matter what the age, it can be hard to make friends. I feel for you. Good for you for taking a chance and getting out. I keep telling myself I'm going to meet more mommies in my area or that I will spend more time with the ones I know but I just don't. Sigh.

socialkitty said...

I am SO sure that you will find your niche, go back and read your posts about awkward friend making in Pasadena. Remember that there, and even your beloved Bay Area, were new at one point and you had to put yourself out there in those contexts as well.

Speaking of putting yourself out there, even though I am here, in the midst of my (and your, to a certain extent) comfort zone with "golden" friends, I have to make a whole new group of mommy friends sometime soon, and I am petrified and stymied. So, you are miles ahead of me already.

Huge hugs & kisses to you & your lovely family!

Astarte said...

NoVa is a hard place to get used to. When I moved to the DC area from VT, it took me a very, very long time to feel like I could manage. I think NoVa is probably even harder. The whole area is so built on military, political and business hierarchies that it goes to everyone's heads.

I think the most important thing is to get her into a place where you are both comfortable, and out of that snobby hellhole. Just remember that all those women are frantically working VERY HARD to appear cool, and their snobbishness is born from an intense desire to feel superior to ANYONE.

The next time one of those idiots comes over to you looking all snotty, just look down your nose, smile, and say something about how you haven't seen boots like that in YEARS, that nowhere in CA carries them anymore, wherever did she find them? She'll probably run home and burn them.

Hillary said...

I agree with Astarte. NoVa is difficult. There are the political/military families, then you also have the OLD money families and then there is the extreme Southern contingent -- people who I always felt were making up for their geographic northness by being uber-southern. You'll figure it out.

parkingathome said...

God, do we ever stop being little bitchy teenagers? I am so pissed at those moms that are teaching their babies about elitism at freaking THREE. I feel for you, 100%. My sister is a suede boot, and I just try to take solace in the fact that my child is superior to hers in every way, and that I don't have to mention it like she undoubtedly would if hers were above 15% in weight and could look left.

Mean? Bitchy? Yes, but man, don't THEY deserve it sometimes?

Existential Waitress said...

I really related to this post. It's kind of ironic to find yourself feeling like you're back in junior high trying to find other girls to hang out with and feeling like you don't quite "fit in" anywhere. I too have felt like that in recent years having left grad school to reurn to Vegas and become a mom. It's like being in another world where I don't quite belong. And I also fret about whether or not my son is making friends at school and hope he doesn't get left out. It's hard feeling like you're on the outside looking in.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

bat7mess- Let's do it!
Marie Green- Yes, sorry, bad story telling! They were from the meet up group and I saw the movie with them and ate dinner with them and ... will probably never see most of them again but it was a start!
Astarte and Hillary- I KNOW RIGHT? What is up with NoVa??

Sarah said...

Uggh. Get her out of that school. I am stressed for her. I think she might be happier elsewhere. Glad the movie went well for you.

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