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.