there is nothing that makes my social anxiety worse than spending “quality time” with someone who is important in my life but whom i don’t know very well, especially if i really care if they like me or not. james’s little sister, the youngest in the family, is a perfect example.
granted, we’ve always gotten along fine together and nothing eventful has happened, but i just don’t know her all that well. every time she visited us in barcelona, she came with a friend or boyfriend and, let’s be honest, she was really there to visit her brothers, and i was sort of dragged along. and even when i lived with james and daniel, i never had to spend any time with her alone.
i realize that i’m making it sound like she’s scary and it would be just horrible to “have to” spend time with her, the dreaded sister-in-law. this is, of course, all in my head. she’s a perfectly nice, funny, intelligent twenty-five year old girl. she’s surprisingly responsible, mature in some ways, slightly silly and immature in others and has that same sense of sarcasm and humor that both her brothers have as well (which, let me tell you, can take some getting used to).
in fact, she’s quite pleasant to be around. she doesn’t expect too much of me in terms of being a hostess and is grateful and nice and seems generally interested in my opinions and life. and, as i said, she’s funny. and while i’m not particularly funny at all, i do have a good sense of humor, so i like having funny people around (it makes me feel funny).
now that we’re married, and frankly, they’re stuck with me, i’ve gotten much less panicky about the members of his family i don’t know so well (basically, everyone except his brother), but i’m still nervous when james isn’t around.
i know that it will go away, or lessen, the older and wiser i get, and the longer i know them; i think it’s probably quite natural, considering that both of our families live so far away and are from slightly different cultures (not just country-wise, but also because my family are hippies and hug everyone and his family are very kind, but don’t talk about love and togetherness as much…).
but beyond that, i’m just crazy. and a week of me being crazy is taking its toll on me in some ways, and in others, maybe teaching myself how to calm down just a little bit.
his sister got here last saturday and is here for another two days and james has been working every day. it’s absolutely not his fault, i know he would prefer to be able to take the time off to spend with her, but because his project is going live and he’s quite busy, he wasn’t able to. he has been getting off as early as possible, but basically for most of the day and therefore most of the week, it’s just been me and her.
in a lot of ways, i think this is really good. i mean, the problem really is that i don’t know her well at all, so what’s the best way to fix that? throw us together for a week. and i think it’s actually gone quite well and been relatively easy, except for when i start panicking.
what happens when i start panicking? i start babbling. and i start making strange choices/decisions just because i don’t know what to do. which leads to me telling her inappropriate stories about my past (like driving drunk and stoned and making out with boys in bathrooms in bars) and getting lost.
i was trying to take her to the river, which is a perfectly normal thing to do, but instead of taking her the “normal” way, meaning, the one way that i know how to get there, i tried to go a fancy way (i don’t even know what that means. more scenic? better streets? less construction?) and, of course, got lost. which was embarrassing enough, but then it started to make me panic and so i got more lost and just seemed like an idiot.
we did, however, get to see a particularly bad-smelling and ugly part of town, which i’d never even been near before. so, you know, there’s that. and there were a significant amount of sex shops around that she got to see. so… new tourist route?
i think she can tell sometimes, though. for example, when i was explaining that guests sort of make me automatically act like i’m on vacation, too (meaning: i stop cleaning altogether), and was reassuring her (probably in a panicked, babbling way) that i do indeed clean my house, she responded like a mother who is soothing a frightened toddler: there, there. it’s okay. don’t worry, i’m sure your house is lovely.
all in all, me being crazy aside, i think it’s been a really nice trip and i am really glad that we’ve gotten the time to get to know each other better. i’m hoping it means that next time she visits us, or we go to england, that i will be less panicky and more comfortable and eventually i might even, you know, just act like myself around her. wouldn’t that be nice?
yes, i even made her come to a knitting event with me - prompting her to realize just how "old" i am...