So I was sitting here tonight, feeling kind of blah. The children– somehow sensing that I had written some sentimental glop about them yesterday–rewarded me today by looking me squarely in the eyes when I informed them that there would be no lunch until the playroom was clean and saying, “Fine, we’re not even hungry.”
That was at 10:00 this morning.
Lunch was at… 2:30. Not because the playroom was clean. But because they had whipped themselves into a hysterical froth over how starving they were, and the playroom was… cleanER… and I didn’t want the neighbors to call CPS. (“WE’RE STAAAAAAAAAAARVING!!”) Plus, I was hungry, and it would’ve been two against one and I fear they could’ve taken me.
So today was… trying. And once the kids were in bed it was just me and the TV, again.
So I was sitting here, thinking naughty thoughts about Alton Brown and pondering whether it was his cooking or him that was turning me on, and the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number. But I picked up, because that’s what I tend to do when the phone rings.
On the other end was a familiar voice I hadn’t heard for years. Let’s call her Willie, for reasons I shall not explain.
Willie and I met as teenagers in a… hmmmm… how to put this…. We met in a group therapy setting. Yes. That’ll do. We became fast friends. When you’re surrounded by crazy people, you tend to latch on to the person whose crazy seems most similar to your own.
In fact, not 5 minutes into the conversation, Willie told me that part of the reason she was prompted to call was that she’d come across a gift I’d sent her about 17 years ago. After having both been forced to endure various sessions on all the sorts of things screwed-up teens need to learn–have good self esteem! don’t do drugs! don’t hurt yourself! listen to your parents!–at some point I felt compelled to elaborately wrap up and mail her a small plastic axe.
Which… okay. Maybe we needed a little more therapy. Do not judge, lest ye yourself be forced to watch reruns of “Degrassi Junior High” in the name of learning important life lessons!
Anyway, Willie and I went through a lot together. And we remained close for many years. Then we drifted apart for a while, then we were close again, then we drifted apart again. Life is like that, when people move from here to there and have other things going on, I guess.
I’ve tried, multiple times, to stay in regular touch with her, and finally… around the time that my ex and I separated, I gave up. I had too much else going on. She didn’t seem to want to keep the friendship up, and I no longer had the mental space to keep trying. It slipped away while I was busy trying to hold everything else together.
And tonight… she was back. She’s in a different place, and I’m in a different place, and she called to tell me that life is too short to push away the people who care about you, and she’s sorry that she did.
We talked for about an hour and a half, and when we hung up, my face hurt from laughing. She promised to stay in touch this time, and I believe she will.
We’ve come a long way from the days of driving out to steal milk cartons from behind the grocery store so that she’d have some bookcases.
The people who knew you, and loved you, when you were broken, and love you still, are a special sort of reflective gift. They are at once a reminder of where you came from, how far you’ve gone, and how much further you can yet go.
I hung up the phone tonight and cried with relief. I didn’t know how much I’d missed her and wanted her back until she was suddenly there again. Change is afoot–once again–and I feel firmly anchored and ready to greet it.
Don’t you DARE go silent on me again, girl. I’m all out of axes.
That’s fabulous, Mir — I’m so happy for you.
You rock, btw, and your hair is very pretty.
Mir – That’s a lovely story. I’m glad you’re back in touch with an old friend. I know what you mean about people who loved you when you were “broken” and love you still. They are very precious.
Finding old friends is a great joy. I don’t have many BF friends and I lost track of my best friend once. It was during a difficult time before I decided that divorce was the best path for me.
She tracked me down and encouraged me to consider myself first. To stop being a victim and make a new life for my daughter and myself.
Twenty years later, we still good friends, at different places in our lives, and still talk at least once a week.
Donthca just love it when that happens ;)
Well put, Mir! (From an unknown lurker.) Things like this remind me of my favorite essayist (David Quammen) and a couple things he had to say, if you allow me to steal his wording (simply because he, in his wisdom, has said it better than I ever will be able to).
“We talked about friendship and the message of death as we all three felt we had heard it, which was to cherish the living, while you have them. Seize, hold, appreciate. Pure friendship, uncomplicated by romance or blood, is one of the most nurturing human relationships and one of the most easily taken for granted. This was our consensus, spoken and unspoken.”
(from “Strawberries Under Ice”)
“People come into our lives and then they go out again. The entropy law, as applied to human relations. Sometimes in their passing, though, they register an unimagined and far-reaching influence,…There is no scientific way to discern such effects, but memory believes before knowing remembers. And the past lives coiled within the present, beyond sight, beyond revocation, lifting us up or weighting us down, sealed away–almost completely–behind walls of pearl.”
(from “The Siphuncle: Chambers of Memory in the Ocean of Time”)
Here’s to rediscovering former friendships, remembering why they were formed in the first place, and hoping that they will continue to renew each day. I’ve been here, too, and the hardest part is keeping the promise to stay in touch now, unlike before. However…You can definitely do it! You’re one of us resilient folk. *chuckles*
(Eek! Sorry it’s so long. I’ll go back to lurking, now.)
Now you’ve got me thinking about old friends lost…
I got a call from an old high-school friend this week too! I hadn’t talked to her in 12 years but we chatted away like we’d seen each other yesterday. It was great! I was so thrilled she took the time to find me. I’m so happy for you, too – getting a friend back is a terrific gift. Enjoy it. And if you need another plastic axe, I’m pretty sure my boys have one stashed around here someplace…which is pretty scary, come to think of it…;)
Fabulous. Nothing quite like reconnecting with an old friend. Especially one you shared so much with…