A lesson in mixing friends with Adventure Girl
Remember that game you used to play as a kid, where you drew up a grid of dots, as big as you could make it, then took turns to connect them with dashes? The object was to make as many closed-in squares as possible: paddocks. Then you would initial them, territory marked, borders closed.
I was never very good at it.
I’m not sure if the two are related, but I’ve never considered myself particularly territorial. Not over friends or family, or friends of friends. In fact, if I could put the acquaintances from one side my life’s paddock in a room with a bunch from the other side, and they hit it off, that was all for the better. As superficial as it sounds, it made my life easier, because it meant I could catch up with more of my friends at once. It was like I’d managed to join lots of dots across the page in a kind of uber-paddock of friend efficiency.
As I get older, the dots of my life seem to join up more and more. My life is covered in interconnecting dashes. This should feel great. More of my friends are becoming friends, and I’m becoming friends with their friends.
But on a couple of occasions now, this has bothered me. I’ve noticed my friends interacting independently of me. Not just independently as ‘friends’, but forming connections that extend beyond being the ‘friend of a friend’.
Suddenly I feel as though my border hasn’t extended into an open-armed love-in, but has been crossed.
I’ve laid out a whole bunch of dashes without closing the gates. The paddocks don’t contain my initials, but somebody else’s. All that ground work, only to miss out on the paddocks! Worse, I’m standing outside the paddocks: borders closed.
I know this is a childish response. I shouldn’t feel territorial at all. I should be happy that my friends are getting along so well. It’s not as though I’m worried about what they will say about me to each other. They tend to say all that stuff to my face – that’s why we’re friends. And it’s not like I’m worried about losing a part of their friendship when they offer that piece to someone else. There’s always more to go around.
But it must come from somewhere, this feeling of bearded weirdness. If only I could pinpoint the cause, I could shake the whole thing off. And I know it will pass. I just have to get used to it.
Maybe I should start a new sheet, a new game. One where everybody works collaboratively. No initials and no borders.
Or maybe I should stick to Chinese Checkers.