Do You Suffer from Social in-Security?
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Let me start by saying I loved this book. I checked it out from the library, but might have to buy a copy to read over again and cherish. I identified with the main character and first-person narrator, May Attaway. We both suffer from our own brands of “Social in-Security.”
In May’s case, she has a graduate degree in Landscape Architecture and knows EVERYTHING about every plant, but she knows almost nothing about people. When she is given a month’s paid leave from her job as a university gardener, she decides to visit four friends from her past. When she tells this plan to her colleague, a woman with whom she has worked side-by-side for ten years, her “friend” says, “You have peeps?”
I laughed out loud at this line, and fully understood the colleague’s incredulity because of the dis-ease May had in even conceptualizing her trip. As she says to us:
“Consider the word visit. It’s from the Old French visiter, which meant ‘to inspect, examine, or afflict.’ You can visit a neighbor or a friend, but so can plagues and pestilence.”
“And travel. It’s from the Middle English travailen, which meant originally ‘to toil or labor; torture.’”
A bit later she comes upon a bunch of quotes about friendship, and puzzles over them as if they are Egyptian hieroglyphics:
- Friendship is inherently a magnet. (Eudora Welty)
- Friends are the family we choose. (Anonymous)
- Happy is the house that shelters a friend. (Emerson)
- Friendship is sweet beyond the sweetness of life. (St. Augustine)
- Friends are God’s apology for relations. (Hugh Kingsmill)
If you are wondering how a character can have so much difficulty with relationships, the answer will come slowly in the book as you learn about her mother and even about her mother’s mother. Suffice it to say, the mother chose at age forty to take to her bed and not come out. As we meet May, she is forty, and that option is certainly a possibility.
But she puts it on hold as she goes on four trips to visit the four friends instead. With her Emily Post book of etiquette always in hand, she sets off to answer the question: “A best friend is someone who…”
If you’d like to know the answer to this question, this book’s for you.
If you’re not always sure how to negotiate friendship, this book’s for you.
If everyone around you seems to have scads of friends while you suffer from Social in-Security, this book’s for you.
If your back story makes your current life difficult, this book’s for you.
If you’ve ever thought of taking to your bed and not coming out, this book’s for you.
And finally, if you wonder if it is possible to move from isolation to connection, this book’s for you.
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