A few weeks ago I was forced to endure an interrogation by my credit card company in order to activate my new card. I was nagged to put a second person on my account just in case, and was asked “is there anyone you trust to put on this account?” I did my best Liz Lemon impersonation and responded “no, thanks for bringing it up”.
Seven years ago my car was stolen. I walked out from Symphony Hall and it was gone (but, oddly, there was another 1982 Malibu sedan on the same street). I was young and on my own and I had the terrible feeling that there was no one near to help me. My stomach dropped to around my ankles, and I set about figuring out what to do.
When I remember that story I remember how alone I felt. But I also remember that my friend Chris drove me around in the snow to pick up the car when the cops found it. There is an element of pride to my independence – “I can do it all myself” – and also an element of fear – “if I count on people I’ll be disappointed”. As recently as a year or two ago I really believed that if something truly bad happened no one would be there to help me. I’m learning.
I have friends who look for me in the bottom of the pool when they don’t hear from me. I have friends who talk me off a ledge via cell phone when they’re in Target and I’m in a panic. I have friends who let me borrow their Priuses when my gas-guzzler is at the mechanic. I have friends who cover my classes, who check to see if the soup is vegetarian, who google chat me from far off lands, who call me when I’m down.
A community of care snuck up on me when I was busy being maudlin about my solitude. Congratulations, urban family, you have broken me in the best possible way (I’m still not adding any of you to my credit card account).