One of the things I've been thinking about (or working on, depending on your point of view) is who I am. Some definitions are easy: daughter, sister, catMommy, school librarian, colleague, etc.. But what do those mean? And - more important - how do those on the other side of the relationship see me?
Recently one of my oldest friends needed help with her mother's house. When I was in school, we'd spent several Saturdays getting the house ready for spring or winter (putting up storms or screens, taking care of the gutters, etc.). Since the house is about two hours from where I live now, of course I volunteered to come do what I could. We haven't spent much time together since she graduated (a year ahead of me) but we do occasionally e-mail or leave Facebook messages. What would this reunion be like?
It felt like we'd seen each other just yesterday. In a way, that's good, right? But in a way it's bad. Am I the same person I was "back then"? Is she? The ease of conversation made me question all that. Let's suppose either of us has changed - did we then regress to our teenaged selves, or had the other changed in a parallel fashion, or were the changes not as great as we'd expected or hoped? I found myself reacting to her in the same way I'd done decades ago and wonder if she found the same on her side.
The same holds true for another reunion, this one with someone I hadn't seen in even longer, but with whose life I'd kept up (thanks to our parents close friendship). Again, it was easy talking to her. Was it a "best behavior" meeting? Or was this who we really were?
There are other friends I have that have changed - one of whom has changed in some not-quite-subtle ways that make me not want to spend time with her. Perhaps spending more time with my "recently regained" friends would lead to the same feeling on one or the other sides.
Years ago I worked for an executive recruiting firm. Two of the tools they used to identify and help clients were the Birkman and the Myers-Briggs. While the former is a little too complicated to explain, the latter boils down to 16 behavior types. Turns out, depending on the day, I'm an INTJ or and ENTJ. Neither are the soft, warm fuzzy types. Do these friends sense the lack of warm fuzzies? Do they care? Or are they comfortable with that because they aren't warm-fuzzy either?
The same questions arise when I go to conferences - my friends, my colleagues see me in one arena and have certain thoughts and expectations of what I will be like. Am I really that person, or is that just the Conference Me?
All things to ponder as I spend this summer at conferences and catching up with my lazy life...