It's Saturday night and I'm going to sit here and write a blog entry. (Obviously.) About a couple of years ago I would have been a bit uncomfortable sharing this information, just like I wondered what people might think of me if they saw me on Facebook on Saturday night, or saw that I had posted something on Facebook on a Saturday night. Actually, even here I've been pretty proud to write about outings with friends, like I'm glad to have proof to show that I went out and had a great time. Now, of course I know my readers like me and think I'm likable. Why else would they continue to visit and comment? Still, I often have this urge to prove, not just to my readers, but to my friends, family and neighbors, that I have other friends and that I go out and have fun.
A couple of years ago I went with my parents' to my neighbor's Halloween party and I felt embarrassed. I wondered if my neighbors thought I had nowhere else to go. Why was I hanging out with older people on an occasion that is also often celebrated by young adults? Didn't I have my own friends to go out with?
I think part of this insecurity, this desire to fit in, comes from my being a twin. I felt better about staying home tonight because my sister did too. Her staying home made it okay. Cool, even. I admire her social skills and her ability to make friends wherever she goes. Don't get me wrong, I do too. I love parties when I get to go meet new people. I usually start and carry the conversation, especially when I sense the people feel nervous about talking to someone new. But there's something about my sister. I love to see her with people. I love to see people gravitate to her. She has this magnetic personality and she's so cool and pretty and very funny and goofy in a cool way. Plus, she seems to really find people who she clicks with. People seem to admire her.
I think I'm thinking about all this because August is about to end. This is Back to School season! The beginning of another university year meant new classes with some different students. Seeing familiar faces in my Health and Society program classes reminded me of how disappointed I was that I didn't particularly care for any of them. Seriously. It made me wonder why I didn't like them. Why no real friendships flourished with those Health and Society regulars. I found some of them immature. Some standoffish -- rude even. But for the most part I just didn't connect with them. Why? I would be interested in them in the beginning, but became less and less interested as time went on, usually after my perky "Hellos!" and efforts to start conversation didn't go very far.
A big part was my distaste for having to take complete ownership of my relationships. Why didn't other people say hello to me? Why didn't they try harder to participate in conversations with me? I used to blame it on their apparent nervousness, either with meeting new people or with the coursework, or whatever. But then I would see them connect with other people. It stung a bit, I must say. I would take it personally. I'd try not to because, like I said, sometimes I, like any one else, just don't click with people. And it takes me a while to fully connect with someone anyway. That's no smudge on my character at all, I know.
But here I am on a Saturday night when I actually had plans. A friend of mine from university (The Professional Writing program where I found quite a few people I really liked) is moving to England for at least a year. This was her going away night. I canceled on her because I was sick. I felt bad about it, but of course she understood. I missed another opportunity to cement a bond. It does bother me. This isn't really my ideal situation of course, as much as I am a homebody. This is one of many, many plans I've canceled for more than a year because I haven't felt well. Many of these excuses just don't seem valid to me, as awful as they make me feel. Like today, my throat's been sore and irritated for a few days because of post nasal drip. It has given me quite a bit heartburn too.
I started getting post nasal drip in high school, during which time I had many sinus infections or at least pressure, pain and congestion. They stopped after high school, probably because that's when I started my allergy shots and I was no longer exposed to the dust and mold (both of which I'm pretty allergic to) in the school. But for some reason I still get the post nasal drip. You should hear this husky voice I get. I like it! Haha.
I have other allergy symptoms too, many of which I have every day. Holy cow, my eyes will sting badly. Holy cow, it hurts. I usually run to get a tissue and I put it into my tear ducts and hold it there or rub them gently until the pain subsides. This happens at least once a day. My left ear is often plugged, not to mention the throat issues.
I've never written about this stuff here. It just seemed insignificant. Whiny. Who writes blog entries about allergies? I feel so ashamed at times, using allergies as an excuse for not doing things. It just angers me that I have to deal with allergies on top of everything else. It's like I can't get a break and I get so frustrated. I still take allergy shots, but I can only tolerate the lowest dilution of serum and basically the lowest dose of it. It just feels so pointless: the shots haven't made me immune to the allergens; I'm still often symptomatic.
I've been minimizing my experiences with allergies for years. When I was young I used to break out into hives regularly. Big, red, raised welts over much of my body. They were horrible. The hives made my skin very itchy and hot. Lots of things set them off actually. Allergies, stress, heat, cold. But I had this "Buck up" mentality. I remember I would break out into hives at the babysitter's at lunch time, or maybe I would have come from school that way. She'd give me Atarax, a powerful prescription drug for hives and cream too if I needed it. Then I'd go off to school still feeling the hives, or at least the drowsiness from the Atarax. Quite often I would have Claritin. That helped for sure, but not often enough. It was an ideal med, though, because it is non-drowsy.
There were other times, like at my friend's house. She had two guinea pigs I was really allergic to. My eyes would be all red and puffy; I'd have hives; my nose would be stuffed up and I would be wheezing with asthma. I'd stay at my friend's house, just have my mom come over with a bunch of medicines to make me feel at least a bit better. I had this unwavering desire to push through. Even though I felt terrible, I wanted to keep hanging out with my friend.
Oh, the hives stopped eventually, probably at least two years before I finished elementary school. But then when I was sixteen the hives started again at school one day. I laughed as I told my mom about it. I was regressing into childhood again! She took me out of school to see the doctor who told me I was having a classic allergic reaction to an antibiotic, Ceclor, another doctor had prescribed for bronchitis. Even the bronchitis I plowed through in the beginning. One day in English class a classmate said he could tell I was having trouble breathing and offered me a seat. Why was I in school?! Silly Ashley.
Anyway, after I got some drugs for the hives, I went to work at the Halloween Dance. I was a member of the student council, you see, my duties included coat check and collecting money for soft drinks. I didn't have to go, there were plenty of people there to cover for me, I was assured. Still. I wanted to do my part and I wanted to dress up and have fun! That was hard, though. I was miserable.
Not long after that the hives became very intense. Like blood red cobble stones over my entire body that were insanely itchy and unbearable, and my asthma was really acting up, so my mom took me to the Emergency Room, one of at least two visits. I was sick for months with that allergic reaction. I think it's called Serum Sickness. I can't remember exactly. The hives made my skin hurt. It was so tender that I used to wear my mom's silk kimono around the house because that loose, slippery material chafed less and so caused less pain. I remember waiting for the doctor once, suffering so much I was trembling and rocking back and forth.
Well, there. I've gotten that off my chest. I finally vented about my allergies! Even as I write this, I'm squinting my right eye because it stings and itches so much. Okay, I admit. I just rubbed it. Don't tell anyone! I feel somewhat better about staying home because allergies weren't my only reason. My legs have felt pretty weak today. Stairs are a bit of a job and I didn't want to have to endure a bunch of them in the subway stations. I also had a bit of a fever and generally felt pretty terrible. I felt mostly better after my three hour nap, but I still had to eat and have a shower, so it was kind of late to go out.
I didn't mind. I had a lot of laughs with my family. My mom and sister were sitting on either side of me, both hitting me with green beans. Ah, a typical dinner at the Ashbee household. We also had filet mignon with roasted potatoes and carrots. Delicious! See, I had fun after all! I might even have popcorn shortly.