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.