I have been back from Las Olas for nine days now. I think I am finally back to normal. My back is totally free from pain (for two days now), and my bruises are fading. There were many things I liked about the experience, but in many ways, it was very lonely for me. People kind of broke up in to couples from our group, and my other half was sweet but struggling and withdrew quite a bit. When we did talk, it was more counseling mode for me, but I loved her for her vulnerability and beauty.
So, I was pretty alone, especially from the third day on (we were cohesive until the second night and then everything changed). My third day was difficult. While I received original compassion, I felt it turned into ridicule when I came into my own on the fourth day and wanted to continue surfing. Then, my "I don't like this" comment from the third day came back to haunt me with ribbing comments.
While I felt invisible at times (people not even asking if I was walking into town and leaving without me, not asking me to enter into the traditional pool nightly activity and not even noticing I wasn't there), I didn't seem to care and just looked at it from a cooler, analytic perspective. Such growth for me. Invisibility used to really hurt my feelings, but I didn't have as much in common with our other two roommates (common history and present life stage), and no one seemed to really want to ask questions about me and my life (Although a LOAD of assumptions were made which were at best comical ("You are so naive you don't know when a gay woman is trying to pick up on you." LOL! Hello, former college athlete here, surrounded by gay people since I was 18 years old!) and at worst frustrating (After another dismissive put down, I just had to walk away down the street, laugh it off, and sing my song, "I am not an idiot." Because I am not!).
This is where I think that I have grown. I am OK with being in a group now and being ignored or not asked questions about myself (George says it happens to us all the time. I guess we are used to it). One time at dinner, one of the girls asked about my sons, and that was nice, but it was a dearth of intimacy in the relationship department all week. Even though I knew I was alone, I just went with the flow and enjoyed it. That was a good thing. While debriefing with Penny at the airport before we took off, she wished we could have had more time together, and I agreed. It was a lovely give-and-take of conversation! Most of the others people in our larger group were really nice, down-to-earth people that wanted to know about me and what I did. My roommate asked me, but no one else in our group did. I wished I had spent more time with the larger group (a couple of time we sat at the hotel restaurant talking, and that was lovely). My roommate ended up doing that and was more comfortable with them than our own group. It almost would have been easier for me to go alone in many ways. Trying to get a party of six to gel was hard, especially since I don't live in the same area as the other four, and I don't have the history that the person who invited me to her party had with her roommate. They would be immersed in conversation, and I would try to break in; but while they were polite, I always felt like the third wheel. The best time I have ever had with my friend was at the beach one-on-one almost three years ago. I am more a one-on-one person, and I don't begrudge the dynamics. I was happy for my friend at a distance, and one-on-one, I think I would have enjoyed the other people in our group more, and I did in little one-on-one conversations I had throughout the week. The group dynamic usually brings out the cutting and snippyness in people that I don't understand with women. I could write a book!
I just was glad to have people to talk to at home. I have so many intimate relationships here that I missed them and grew to appreciate them so much more, especially my sweet, chatty George!
I went from hating surfing one day to finally figuring out what I needed to do to get up and wishing I had more time to improve. (The jury is still out as to whether I "loved" it, but contrary to what people told me, I didn't hate it because I am used to "excelling at everything I do." That is rubbish and told to me by people who don't know me at all.) That is why I want to do it again in Hawaii in February. I will also have George to take pictures of me. If I had one suggestion about Las Olas, it would be that they have a photographer there. I guess they did in the past. I think Connie and Heidi (returning people) were a bit disappointed that this was not offered this year like last year. I get the drift that many things were different this year (less about empowering of women and more about get up on that board and surf), and the returning three didn't like it as much. I liked it though, even though I wrenched my back on the third day and was in a lot of pain (until my massage). I am going to try it again in February and August (when I go to California for my 35th reunion). We will see if I take it up or not.
Well, this was WAY more than 10 minutes, but it was good to get my thoughts down!