Imaginary Friendships

The chimney sweepers are here to replace an unidentifiable rusting metal thing on our roof.

As they work, they sound as if they are clamoring in an enormous cabinet of bucket-sized baking pans. Chimneys must be flimsier than I realized.

The chimney trumpets out the workers every  word with tinny clarity. I can hear them across the house.

The younger of the two wonders why his girlfriend won’t text him back.  His partner grunts agreement and gives the young man advice he will not follow.  I suspect this scenario has played out before.

Although I met the duo before, I can’t recall their faces. Curiously, the young man is the tallest person I ever encountered. His bearded partner is on the short side. I imagine they are teased over the height disparity.

I like them. They arrived on time and did not ring the doorbell to chat with me (as my husband requested!). Their merry banter vibrates the walls, while a pudgy boom box tinkles out the sort of pop music my son loves.

I see myself bringing them coffee and treats. They entertain me with chimney sweeping stories and we decide to put up holiday lights with their tall ladder since they have time to kill. We enjoy a jolly afternoon.

This fleeting fantasy cheers me, even though I am actually hiding from them in my bedroom.

I have always created friendly little episodes with unknown people. This private pleasure may not be typical, but it fulfills me. I feel connected by observing people, not by interacting with them.

Notebooks detailing such fictional episodes line the walls of my art room.

I peep out the window as they leave. For such a huge stature, the young man is surprisingly agile and handles the ladders like glittery batons. His partner scribbles the invoice and consults electronic devices while tugging his ear.

I mentally wish them well, picturing how our October  Christmas lights would delight my family.

Comments

  1. Sue Aside says:

    Lori, you know how dear and close this subject is to my heart. I do this type of thing too, all the time. Even still, when I am bored or down, I play out episodes with people I DO know in my little mind. It soothes me to no end, and I’m glad you posted this. Excellent job in making a terrifying, noisy experience into one that warmed you.

    I don’t feel so alone.

    • A Quiet Week says:

      Thank you, Sue. We’ve always understood this about each other. It’s a wonderful thing. I love the thoughts that embrace and cheer, despite them occasionally bringing some anxious ones along too!

  2. Hannah says:

    Oh Lori, I want to say something comforting even though I know you do not need it.
    If I go a day on my own I start to loose my marbles.
    It’s wonderful that you can find fulfilment in it, maybe I will make myself some stories too.
    ox

    • A Quiet Week says:

      I appreciate your kind thoughts. How lovely we can each find our own happy places and share supportive comments like this! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Mados says:

    Beautiful post.

    “The chimney trumpets out the workers every word with tinny clarity. I can hear them across the house.”

    “The younger of the two wonders why his girlfriend won’t text him back. His partner grunts agreement and gives the young man advice he will not follow. I suspect this scenario has played out before.”

    I bet it won’t occur to them that their roof top conversation was trumpeted (hilarious expression:-) by the chimney and ended up on the Internet. In this age of blogging and social media, I guess it is safest to assume that nowhere is truly offline, even a confi mate-to-mate roof top chat while repairing a chimney:-)

    I feel connected by observing people, not by interacting with them.

    Thanks for that expression. It summarises my people style too, and when you put it that way I don’t feel bad about it at all. I connect with people by observing the pattern of their behaviour and how they do things, how they move, the movements of their hands, how they solve problems, how they interact with others et.c. over a period of time, and it distracts me if they directly look at me and talk to me so I have to come up with responses… It overwhelms and unfocuses my observation apparatus (my senses) and interrupts the ‘data collection’.

    • A Quiet Week says:

      For Anna

      I intended to thank you long ago for your support of my writing and art. You were my first “real” visitor outside of my family to notice my blog.

      I remember because it was near the October snowstorm that knocked our power out for a week.

      I was so excited to read your intelligent and thought provoking comments. You gave me the bravery and encouragement I needed to keep writing.

      I was deeply touched by your write up of me for the Versatile Blogger Award. I’ve been so caught up with Tyoma’s emerging Tourette’s kicked in, that I’ve been to scattered to follow through. Ineed to let you know, I appreciate you very much.

      I am proud to know you. We see many things in a similar light. Reading your comment from above, I nod my head and send you a digital high five.

      Thank you, Anna.

      • Mados says:

        Hi Lori,

        Thank you so very much! I am so touched by this cool collage and lovely feedback! I am proud to know you too. I have learned a lot from your insightful and imaginative words (posts & comments). Your blog writing style has influenced mine by inspiring with its blend of poetic expression, collage art, personal journal and laser-sharp introspection; and by showing the courage to explore and use language that is more typically found in great fiction books than on blogs. Lovely to know you as a writer and virtual friend… Digital High Five to you too! 🙂

        Anna

  4. Chad Moore says:

    I genuinely enjoyed this post. I am very glad I stopped by today. Great visual story here. I totally related to this. I enjoy doing this and think others do too. Sometimes my friends and I will do this together while we are out and about. Thank you!

  5. This is awesome!! Sometimes imaginary social interaction is better than the real thing. Fewer unexpected surprises. And with imaginary social interaction, everyone is nice and there are no unreasonable expectations placed on anybody. You can feel free to be yourself with no pressure to conform to illogical social rules. Great post.

    • A Quiet Week says:

      Hallelujah! So very true! I wonder if my imaginings are related to the rehearsals I used to do at home. I listened to music and walked around in circles replaying scenarios over and over again, trying to get the social angle just right. Eventually, I wound up tired and overwhelmed so I created my own soothing scenes instead of rehearsing.

      I cannot tell you how alone I felt, since I was the only one I knew who did this. Now, I discover a whole army of anxious soldiers, spinning mental wheels. Your comment brings me comfort. I am less alone. Thank you.

      Lori

  6. Life&Ink says:

    Hi Lori! I have been in a work bubble and unable to visit until now even though I got the notification days ago. It’s like I squirreled away your post, a nut for safe keeping until my work was done. Your posts are like that, visual, playful and whimsical treats. Oh please keep making up stories and sharing them and and lighting up my life like twinkly little Christmas lights!

  7. Hi Lori!

    “I have always created friendly little episodes with unknown people. This private pleasure may not be typical, but it fulfills me. I feel connected by observing people, not by interacting with them.”

    All of my stories and poems are this! Ha ha I do make up fantasy tales with science, numbers, and words in the same way. We are all fabulous friends living out grand fairy tales… All the while I am hiding behind my computer talking to my Luna stuffed cat and eight ball. 🙂

    This was such a wonderful post! I am so happy to know I am not the only one who lives out such fantasies. 🙂

  8. aspiewriter says:

    This made me smile! I totally hide in my bedroom when others are about. The difference is that I am hiding in there WITH my imaginary friends–they live in my books. I interact with them, and make up little scenes in my head. When things are going on in my life, I often think…what would____ say? The only real downside I have found is that when the book is through and am sad. My friends are gone, our adventure is over, and I feel like I lost a “real life” friend. So now I am reading series! What will I do when a series of 12 books end??? I’m only on book number 7 so hopefully I have a few more months of companionship. 🙂

  9. Rebex says:

    Hi.
    I’ve done this all the time since childhood. Sometimes imaginary folk, sometimes real. Most of the time I’m in my own world. It often looks after me but can also be a bittersweet cocktail as afterward it sometimes hurts as well. In a way it can help mentally train or ‘prepare’ me for social situations, even if just a little: my tactic is apparently to ‘observe & absorb’, so I could mimic fitting in. Thank you. x

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