It was a friend of a friends Birthday, and I got invited out for afternoon tea, odd you might think, afternoon tea in Madrid, it’s hardly a place renowned for such little quirks, and you’d be right.
Besides the slim slices of cake and tea offered in a mug, with not even a little teapot to keep it company, it wasn’t exactly The Savoy! Yet, it was a nice change, meeting people over tea and cake rather than beer and tapas.
I must admit, I love alcohol and food. Its practically in my blood; my family are thorough bred foodies and of course I have a strong Irish connection to boot (bad combination)! The only problem is both of these fine things, food and alcohol, don’t necessarily like me very much.
A few years ago I decided to scrap my old ways, in short, junk food was banned and so to was the vodka (et al). This, actually helped me. Physically, mentally and emotionally I felt relieved, it was like a breath of fresh air! I hadn’t realised how good it could be to be free of the shackles of, for want of a better expression, bad living.
Now, I’m no paragon of virtue, I still like to eat burgers and love a good cake and still enjoy a tipple, but since moving to Madrid I’ve noticed how easy it has been for me to slip back into my bad habits. Temptation is everywhere.
In the UK, I would choose not to go to bars, clubs and restaurants. I would meet friends in my home or theirs, we’d go walking, meet for coffee, go to the movies, shop, visit the beach, museums, National Trust properties and so on and so on. I seemed to have the opportunity to do more than merely meet people and friends in bars and restaurants to then eat and drink.
I had friends who were my party pals, they only wanted to get drunk and eat too much junk, consequently we soon parted ways as I didn’t want that lifestyle any more. I’d lived that lifestyle for too long, and frankly I was bored of wasting my money and time on a useless pursuit of what always was unhappiness the day after (hangover, arguments, tired, sick and so on).
Now, you may think, what a boring mare – no, actually I’m not. I enjoy diversity, I enjoy not having to do what other people expect I should do, because they are happy doing it. Yet, here in Madrid, everyone meets for beers and tapas, even a day of pottery making ends up in one of thousands of different bars open until the small hours.
I am once again being forced to apply the breaks on this ‘lets have a drink and lets eat all the fat infused food we can find’ ethos, and I’m discovering just how difficult it is to keep up with friends.
Not all of my friends, as some of them get where I’m coming from, but there are those who don’t.
I have friends who just because they are happy to while away their weekends over bottles of booze and then the bathroom sink, they think I should want this too. If I don’t, then the invites to do things just suddenly don’t arrive any more.
They think, I’m sure, that I’m miserable or purposefully avoiding their company. Well, I’m not, I just can’t physically or mentally do this drinking fest every weekend or weekday.
If I accepted every offer to go out during the week:
A) I’d be flat broke
B) I’d have an inflated liver the size to envy any poor force fed goose
C) I’d be thoroughly miserable
D) I’d be the size of the Titanic before it sunk.
What is it about these points that people find so hard to grasp and take seriously?!
Also, my life here isn’t necessarily like their lives.
I don’t work full time, I have a boyfriend I enjoy spending time with (which usually consists of mainly weekends as he works so much), and I also have a life which still exists in the UK too. In fact, I have one foot here in Madrid and one in the UK. I suppose, in a way, I have more responsibilities than they do too.
No, I’m not taking about kids, but about bills, mortgages, a career I’m once again trying to revive, I’m learning Spanish (still) and they’re fluent already, plus I didn’t move to Madrid to extend my student years (as some of my friends seem to have done).
I suppose I’ve lost the thread here, or the initial thread in any case. I begun with afternoon tea. Well, the people I had afternoon tea with are these friends I’m taking about, and they are somewhat one dimensional in their offer of friendship.
The reason is I’m the outsider. They are 3 friends who know each other through teaching together, and I came to know them through one of the Madrid meet-ups.
Don’t get me wrong, they are lovely in many ways; they are very complimentary, kind and I have fun with them, but, I notice too that they only talk and don’t really listen. I don’t like that, it really is a sign that people aren’t really friends. I don’t enjoy being ignored, or cut short or spoken over as though I’m not important, and they were doing that quite a bit. Of course, they also were eager to depart as they had a drinking fest planned – which of course, I hadn’t been told about or invited to. So, I know, well now know, from our last meeting, that I am an outsider to them. I don’t fit into their type of friendship. I can dip in and out of it, but because I’m not a party animal, I’m not really their cup of tea (well, we all like coffee from time to time don’t we).
So, have I told them any of this – no, I didn’t see the point in really going over the ground with them. I know I can’t sacrifice my lifestyle choices to meet their own, and I know they wouldn’t stop going out or drinking the volume of beer that they do for me. So, it is what it is.
I suppose I feel a bit peeved. I mean I have lost one friend over this already. I couldn’t afford to do what she wanted to do every other weekend. Yet again though, our ideals of friendship clashed. She was looking for more friendship than I could give. I couldn’t be there for her and her alone – I have a life when I don’t see her and I have to maintain that! So, I don’t see her any more and that actually upsets me.
I think too, I have sacrificed what I really wanted – not having to get drunk and eat junk and be out till the small hours, just to gain friends. How pathetic is that?! I’m too old for that crap! Either people like me for me, or they don’t. If they like the fact I can drink them under the table and stay up all night dancing, then what type of friendship is that? Hardly a firm foundation for me to rely upon.
For me, friends are people you can share everything with. I don’t want a one sided party fest, I’m not 20 any more, I want something connected, deeper and diverse. I won’t settle for superficial.
In saying all this on Saturday I return to the UK again, and this time it will be for two months (a very long time for me). I will then see which friends are left standing when I’m not in the picture for this length of time, and which forget I even existed.
I think the way I have been feeling of late the change of scene will do me well, as I am getting a little narky here (I think this post reflects that well enough), I seem to get ‘itchy feet’ after a few months in one place! God knows how I’ll cope when I don’t have another country to escape to, and am stuck in one on a permanent basis! I always thought I had some gypsy blood in me somewhere!
Anyway thanks for reading my rant!! I appreciate it as always.
I am afraid my friendship with my best friend is evaporating into eating and getting wasted together, and the occasional computer gaming session. I have plenty of friends with whom I get drunk and stuff, and I even enjoy the hangover. Yeah, I am a masochist. I digress. Anyway, it makes me sad that I could lose my, for a lack of a better description, adopted brother
Reading this post was like looking in the mirror. Your current experience is one so similar to my own. Being a young lady of under 25, I have the expectations to still want to party and be a part of that lifestyle. For some reason, I never really had it in me. I’m certainly not putting myself on a pedestal, but I have always felt old for my age. Not so much old, as an old soul.
Sure, I enjoy a hardy IPA, a glass of wine, etc etc…but that doesn’t mean I have to go to excessive measures every time. Because of that, I too have experienced a hindrance among “friends,” – a couple in particular. I’m either considered boring, old, or most recently “irritable,” among others.
Look, I work hard all day, starting early in the morning and sometimes a good book and a glass of merlot is so much sexier than a club, noise, and pricey droplets of booze. If that makes me “irritable”, then I’m all for it.
Investing my energy and effort into a few meaningful, respectful friendships is much more valuable to me.
Thanks for relating some of your own experiences, I appreciate that. I agree with you. I do enjoy socialising and having a drink, but also I have to be able to do my own thing, that has always been essential. I love having my own space, exercising, reading, singing, being creative, writing and so on. There is a time and place for social activities such as getting drunk, but it isn’t the only thing to spend time and money on. People seem to lose perspective, and just forget there are other things to enjoy and whilst sober! Most of my friends were older than me, because I just seemed to connect with them (as opposed to my own age group). I do enjoy being friends with people of all ages and who have varied interests, and think that having a drink and being a bit crazy sometimes is OK. BUT I can’t spend all my free-time doing this!!!! I know, and often think my friends see me the same way as you feel yours do too. I hope they don’t, as I’m not intending to be that way – I just have to be true to me and being drunk every week or meeting in a pub, isn’t always what I want to do.
You’re so right! Perspective does have so much to do with this issue. There are so many things to do and experience in this life and limiting yourself to the same mundane routine may result in regret further down the line. There is equal importance in being social and being in solitude. I often feel that those that are on the rather extroverted side have fear in being in solitude; they have some unresolved issues within themselves that they don’t want to face. That’s just my opinion, but who’s to say?
That could be right for some people, as I have heard that those who are extremely extrovert, might be battling under confidence. Not all, but some, I’m sure.
Good luck with this. you have been strong before and you can do it again.
Thanks, appreciate that 🙂
“but, I notice too that they only talk and don’t really listen.”
This post resonated with me. You could have been writing my story. I, too, of late, have been questioning why everyone I know in this large city only meets to eat, drink & get wasted. Where we lived before, in a mid-sized city, we interacted with our friends doing activities like walks and shopping and shows and museum exhibits. But not here.
I need to follow your lead and embrace my outsider status, refusing to go along with all this consumption. And just move on to a happier and healthier place, even if it means not socializing again. At least I won’t have to listen to all the incessant gossip and self-promotion that seems to go part & parcel with this sort of behavior. Life is too short, eh?
Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it as always 🙂
I am happy my words struck a chord with you. Thanks too for sharing your experiences; it’s good to hear from someone else who understands this.
Well, sometimes it can be hard to do, to leave behind those who aren’t truly friends. We tend to plod on and hope for the best, which is only natural. I do still socialise, and enjoy it, but I’m less inclined to do so if it isn’t really on my terms; I.E – I feel forced into being somewhere or doing something just to keep a friend (as then they can’t be real friends, and not worth the strain). I think making do or selling yourself short to please, and appease another, is never good for the psyche or soul. Yes, life is too short, so, find a way to be at peace and true to yourself – if they are real friends then they will understand and not abandon you.
I wish you luck!!! Oh, and don’t give up – I’m sure you will find the friends who will enrich you, and love you for you!
Thanks for the encouragement. Happily not everyone I know wants to eat, drink (& drink some more), so I socialize and have fun with lots of ppl. But the ones who are partiers… never let up, do they?
My pleasure 🙂 Good, that is great – real friends are far more nurturing for the soul than a bottle of vodka! No, they don’t. I have a friend who is 10 years older than me and she has always been the same, loves to party! She will never change, she didn’t for 3 husbands and 2 kids, so her ‘friends’ have no chance!
I agree with you. My best friends are the ones I can talk to. The only problem is as you get older, you become more distant and that is hard. Where most of them are married or live farther away now, it’s just kind of me. Which means a lot of Netflix, lol.
Yeah, that is tough, but suppose that is life. Friends are often too time and place specific, also people seem to be so caught up in their lives, running from one thing to the next!
I don’t see any of my UK friends now either, well, all except one, but we’ve been friends since we were 8. I really think people haven’t the staying power for firm friendships, them seem to flit in and out of your life. I know I have made, and lost so many different friends throughout the years, but I always think of them, even if I haven’t seen them for years. It actually makes me quite sad, as once they meant a lot and now they are nothing more than strangers.