Dear Janet… – By Lydian Shipp
Guanajuato Mexico North America

Dear Janet… – By Lydian Shipp

There are so many opportunities to make friends here, it blows my mind. People meet at restaurants to converse. There are opportunities to be a part of something. Living in Mexico has proven to me that life doesn’t have to be lonely, quiet, or solitary.

When people ask me if I miss living in the United States, the answer is always a strong and resounding “NO.” I wouldn’t trade what I have now here in Mexico to go back and live in the United States.

Even with all the various stresses that have come with moving to a foreign country, I would not have decided to stay in the US. My options were so limited there. My big dream was to go to UNL on a full ride scholarship for a Bachelor’s of Graphic Design. And I would’ve put off travelling for 4 years and felt just as lost at the end of that degree as I do now, except at the age of 22 instead of 18 when my brain is still flexible. I would’ve just started my first term at UNL had I gone ahead with that plan. Jesus… I can’t believe how different my life is now from what I expected it to be two years ago. I almost always have said that though. I very rarely predict what’s ahead for myself with any sort of accuracy, but I’m also often pleased with the results. Which I suppose is something I really ought to remind myself of more often when I get concerned about the future, but that’s a different topic.

I say to myself sometimes that I’m glad that I wasn’t too “connected” to the community in Nebraska when we left. Like… I didn’t have a solid and well-developed group of friends. Of course, by the time we left I’d all but closed down the possibility of having friends and given up hope of connection, which wasn’t healthy either, but in retrospect I’m kind of glad I didn’t try to forge too many connections. It would’ve been more painful and difficult than it already was for me to break myself away from there to move to Mexico. I would’ve been okay, but still, I’m glad things were the way they were.

Despite the fact that I say that I wasn’t “connected,” I have to acknowledge that, technically, I still was. It’s true I didn’t have a developed social group when we left and that I’d given up hope of having friends (I have hope and friends now, for the record). But I was still connected. And I still am. There are people I think about regularly that I miss. But in truth, I would’ve missed them if I’d stayed in the United States too, since they were never really there in my life. I saw just enough of their unique potential and who they were, and I saw parts of myself in them. For varying periods of time, me and these people connected on a deeper level. But then it was over, and I spent the rest of the time I knew them or communicated with them trying to recreate what was once there. All in vain ultimately, so it seems, but I tried (and still try in some situations) because I saw what could be.

Being off Facebook has helped me look at connections more realistically I think, but it’s not like I’ve been able to fully and automatically “let go” of these people I was and am connected to just because I don’t look at their Facebook pages anymore. The thing is, I’m connected to them, and there are a few of these people that I’ll probably wonder about for the rest of my life. Travel has generally brought the nature of my relationships with people into sharp focus. When we were in the UK, I remember my mom and I went for a jog together one day and we talked about a boy that I’d been close friends with two years before. We discussed that I wouldn’t run into him again until I’d “let him go.” Last year in 2017 at our Halloween festival, I literally ran face first into him and his girlfriend in a dark hallway at the end of one of our haunts. He didn’t see me, but I saw him. Later that night I watched him from afar at the ticket booth and thought about how, in reality, he was a fairly average person. What made him special (to me at least) was that I had a connection to him. I still wonder about that boy (and I probably always will). But I don’t feel like reaching out and getting back in contact. I’ve let him go.

Here in Mexico, I have a hard time believing that I could possibly run into any of these people from my past ever again. And although there’s some comfort in knowing that I won’t probably run into them, since there’s some leftover bitterness there with most of those relationships, it also makes me sad. Because I love these people that I connected to in the states. And because I want them to come to where I am, since life in the US is so bleak and tragic, and I want them to get the chance to see the rest of the world and have a chance at some cool opportunities that would suit them. I want to see them reach their potential and be happy, or at least adequately entertained. And, in reality I would like to run into them again someday, because I honest-to-goodness like these people that I’m connected to.

I’m amazed at how much I end up talking about this one old friend from the US, even despite the fact that I barely ever talk to her. Me and this friend (let’s call her Janet) went almost 4 years without talking really at all, but we started things back up recently and pretty amicably, all things considered. I was excited. I’ve been friends with Janet for about a decade, and it’s one of those relationships where I don’t really even remember how or when we met, let alone how or when we actually became friends. So the possibility of resuming our close bond was really enticing, since I’ve considered Janet to be sort of like a sister for a long time.

When I’m thinking, I occasionally look back through my old emails to friends. And looking back through my emails with Janet, I can see a distinct period of time when we were particularly close. It’s not like this is new information to me, but it’s still interesting to compare our most recent emails to each other to those from summer 2014 or even from 2012 (when I wasn’t at my most eloquent or insightful). Is it weird that I’m talking about an old female friend like this? I feel like it’s way too passionate for a female-female relationship. And I suppose in a sense I am clinging to it passionately. I can understand why… Janet was a really cool friend. I was able to go do tons of stuff with her and I felt like she understood me. She was one of very few people that I’ve known with whom I was able to spend long periods of time without feeling exhausted or overwhelmed afterward. We even talked seriously (I was serious anyway) about moving in together when the time came for us to leave home and go to college or whatever.

Given, Janet had a mean side. She could be really prickly sometimes, and there were times where she said and did things that hurt my feelings. I’m not going to deny that. But… I don’t know. She made sense to me. But when the prickly-ness behavior turned into a deep, cutting knife-like behavior, I had to cut things off. It was a slow progression, but on Christmas Eve in Tunisia after a lengthy and uninspired conversation that ended in a passive jab, I decided to not send any more messages. And I suppose she decided not to send any more messages either, since we didn’t talk again for 4 years.

I saw myself in Janet, but I also saw something that was uniquely her own. Her prickly-ness was actually a really cool personality trait, or at least in could have been had she used it judiciously and learned to work it. I relied on her prickly-ness a few times, and I called on her and her mean side to back me up in situations where I needed extra support. Her cynicism was somewhat rooted in this “mean” side, and it made me laugh when I needed a dose of lightness. One of the things that I really liked about Janet was that she was generally reliable and supportive. And that she surprised me from time-to-time (in a positive way usually). Years ago, I wouldn’t have necessarily thought that Janet would’ve been the person that I’d have connected to like a sister and be contemplating while painting walls at my new house in Mexico.

I still see these cool traits in Janet, but I also see her “following the herd” instead of listening to herself. To be honest, I don’t know what she would be capable of if she were to do what she really wanted to do. I don’t think she knows what she’s capable of either… shit, I don’t think she even knows what she’d really want to do if she were to go against the flow (or follow her own flow anyway). I wish I could help her. Or at least be someone to lean on a bit while she helps herself. But she’s taking a very different path. I can see where it’ll lead her… I could probably write up a brief summary of her life and be pretty damn close to right. And to be honest, I hate that I could write a brief summary and be right. It makes me feel like crying because I wanted so much more for her.

I had a dream back in October last year where I was hiding with these two Muslim girls upstairs in my bedroom in Marfil. We were hiding from a murderer that had broken into the house. I was dressed in all-black tight-fitting clothing while one of the Muslim girls wore a vibrant turquoise hijab. I told them that I was going to try and run to get help, and I hid the girls in my closet thinking that they might be okay if they stayed quiet. I made it to our downstairs bathroom right next to the front door, and then I paused for a minute. I sat in the bathroom listening to the blood curdling screams of the girls as the murderer slammed the closet doors open, and I sobbed silently knowing there was nothing I could do to save them. I had to save myself first.

The Muslim girl with the turquoise hijab was Janet… not with her face, but more of a symbol of her. I feel a lot of affection for Muslims and Middle Eastern people, specifically the women, but as much as I’d like to do something to help them, I know that ultimately there’s not much I can do. I can be kind, and I can set an example by figuring out my situation. And I can hope that someday some of these Muslim women will figure things out for themselves in their own, self-created manner. My way wouldn’t work for them anyway, since I’m me and they’re them. But the same is true with Janet. I can’t help her, she has to help herself. Like a Muslim girl/woman, Janet is already “doomed” and has been disabled by her culture (which just so happens to be my culture too). But, I had to save myself, and to do so I had to leave her behind.

I had another similar dream a few nights ago where I was trying to teach a Muslim girl how to use a screwdriver, and although she let me show her how, she didn’t really want my help. She was even sort of angry about my help, and she didn’t take my advice after I gave the screwdriver back to her. Again, the Muslim girl was Janet. I keep trying to help her and show her a path that she could take out of oppression, but she doesn’t want my help. She made her decision a long time ago, and I have to accept that… as hard as that is to do. The Universe keeps sending me these dreams to tell me to let go, and I keep holding on. But why??? Why can’t I release her? And release myself?

Two years ago, shortly before we moved to Mexico, I did a Life Between Lives hypnosis session, and I asked about my connection to Janet (among a variety of other things). Ultimately, the message was that there were two paths that she could’ve taken: one that me and her would’ve taken together (or at least in a parallel way), and the one that she appears to be on right now that leads us far apart. The reason why I cling to the relationship is because I’d hoped for us to be a lot closer to each other than we are, despite the obvious fact that the chance for her to take the parallel path is probably long gone. The way I feel about it is a lot like a grieving process; during the LBL hypnosis session, I managed to reach some level of acceptance, after me and Janet reconnected last Halloween I’d say I was at the bargaining stage, and now I’m not sure if I’m angry, depressed, or in a state of denial. Maybe a bit of all three.

At the moment I’m trying to decide what to do with the relationship. Do I continue supporting it or do I let it drop again like I did in Tunisia? I don’t know yet. A part of me wants to continue supporting it, since it keeps me somewhat entertained and makes me feel less lost in some ways to still be friends with Janet, even if she isn’t contributing much to the relationship anymore. But, at the same time, I have to acknowledge that the relationship is probably metaphorically dead, and that I might very well be wasting my time. I’d be puppeteering her now, which I don’t think was always the case, but it’s become the case. So I’m not sure. If I get a wild hair and feel like doing something, I’ll do it, but until then I’m going to invest energy into my other new relationships with the people here, since I think that my energy would be better spent that way.

If Janet and I are ever supposed to be as close as we were when we were younger, then we will be. But if not, then so be it. It’s not like I’m losing her forever. We’re connected and we always will be, this is just what we’re doing in this life in these bodies. Someday maybe we’ll have the opportunity again to work together closely on our life lessons, and I hope that when that time comes we both have the sanity to take that opportunity. The same goes for all the other people I knew back the States. We’re connected to each other, and we’ll meet again, but we many not cross paths again until another lifetime.

I have to have faith that these human connections will work out the way they’re supposed to, and I have to maintain hope that I’ll make the human connections I need to make in the future.

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