It's mid-January and already, I'm kicking myself for failing at my lone New Year's resolution.
And no, my resolution has nothing to do with those perennial favorites, diet and exercise. Nor is it doomed to failure by virtue of its vagueness, like the popular holiday promises many of us make to "be more patient" or "reduce stress."
I resolved to keep in better contact with old friends.
Perhaps it struck me as odd that my phone bill is the only monthly expense trending in a downward direction. Or maybe I was motivated by all the stories I've heard about old people and their regrets. At least three different periodicals published features in this vein towards the end of 2011, and one of the top universal regrets among seniors from all walks of life was losing touch with dear friends.
Maybe reading about the old people made me realize an embarrassing fact: I'm hard pressed to pinpoint when I last spoke with anyone whose name I'd rattle off, if asked to name my best friends.
And I'm pretty sure it's my fault. Many of them had kids before I did, and we managed to keep up with at least a monthly phone call. Lately we're reduced to leaving abridged accounts of the headlines from our lives in voice mail recordings. Which just isn't the same.
All through 2011, I had good intentions, but life seemed to get in the way. The Grape doesn't nap reliably, and when he does, I try to work. I can no longer chat while out and about with him, because he refuses to remain confined to a stroller at the advanced age of almost two and a half. Half the time my ringer is off, because I can never answer the phone anyway. All hell breaks loose in my house from about 5:30 to 8:30 every night, which I understand (or at least tell myself) is common in households with young children.
The days of cooking dinner while sharing a glass of wine over the phone with an old friend are a hazy memory. And after the Grape sacks out for the night, I feel too spent to delve into a telephonic re-hash of the past several months.
The problem is compounded by the fact that toddlers are hard-wired to resist any attempt (no matter how fleeting) by their mothers to ignore them. The Grape can happily push his cars around the living room floor all by his lonesome. He'll coo and chatter to himself and to any passing household pets, for really respectable amounts of time.
He does this as long as I'm either watching him in awe or hovering nearby doing something boring, such as emptying the dishwasher. If he hears me get on the phone, he immediately climbs up my person like a squirrel scampering up a tree. Then he tries to wrestle the phone from my grasp like a possessed monkey. If I dodge his assault he will circle my legs and chatter about literally whatever pops into his mind. So conversations tend to go like this:
ME: It's been way too long. How are you? How are the kids?
FRIEND: I'm so glad you called. We've been busy. You know we moved last month, right?
ME: That's a tractor. It's a yellow tractor. Uh huh. It's a nice yellow tractor. Sorry, what were you saying?
FRIEND: And the movers destroyed the piano, so we're fighting with the insurance company, which is a mess. But the new house is great. Then Junior had the croup over Christmas, so we never made it to my parents' house. But he's better now. Hey, I meant to ask, are you going to Suzy and John's wedding in June?
ME: Do not eat your shoe. Um, sorry, what was that? Suzy's wedding? Yes, we're planning on it. And please do not put my lipstick on the dog. No. No. Mamma said no. Because Lila doesn't like lipstick. And because I said no. Wait. Is that my new, unopened Chanel lipstick? Where did you take that from? No! Don't put lipstick on the wall, either. What else did you find in Mamma's purse? Hi? I have to call you back. I'm so sorry. And why is there yogurt on the carpet? It was so good to hear your voice. I said you have to eat your yogurt in the kitchen. Yeah, let's try to talk again soon. Bye!
Starting today, I resolve to do better. I will belatedly ring in the new year by turning the ringer back on. I'll leave messages that suggest times to call back. And I'll try not to let a little lipstick on the dog prevent me from hearing what's going on in my friends' lives. Lila the Dog is just going to have to be a team player on this one.