Someone has come to me out of the past, reviving a feeling I’d long since forgotten. What, what is this I’m feeling? Is it pleasure? Panic? Am I hungry?
-Debi, Grosse Point Blank-
Long ago and far away, I met a girl who shared my birthday, only one year younger. Very soon after meeting we were like peas & carrots. More like 2 peas in a pod. Although our particular pod always seemed to need a third pea for proper balance. We were so alike in so many ways that it was almost like being friends with a long lost twin.
I called her my Beecharmer. She seemed to move in slow motion while so much swarmed around. She reminded me of Idgie in Fried Green Tomatoes with her natural gift for stealing honey from the bees. There was something about her; she was mesmeric.
Almost as quickly as we became friends, we decided to become roommates. It seemed like the perfect situation, because we were already always together.
Do you remember that movie Speed? Ya know how Sandra Bullock’s character says something about intense relationships can never last? The truth, as I’ve known it, is that all relationships require work to maintain them. Intense relationships require an equal amount of intensity just devoted to maintenance.
I liken it to sitting in front of a cozy fire in a frigid room. There is a sweet spot, and within it you are basking in that warm glow it comforts you entirely. At the same time it blocks out the darkness past your periphery. But that sweet spot can shift suddenly when the air is disturbed, even by just another person’s moving toward or away from the fire’s glow. The ability to adjust (& the vigilance to making those adjustments) is required. Something so easy and comfortable can be equally exhausting.
I find it hard to write about what happened. I’m not even sure I understand it, honestly. Except that there came a time when (from my perspective) the friendship no longer seemed to bring joy to either of us. When it seemed like all we could provide was something else to be hurt by, or something else to apologize for. So as difficult as it was, I realized that the best thing for me was to not be an active part of her life.
And like Keyser Söze, I was gone.
(I could also say “like a puff of smoke”, but the reference to The Usual Suspects makes me happier)
I do not believe I can live a life with regret, but that doesn’t mean I’m proud of all my choices. I had been uniquely selfish, and I knew it. I had turned my back on someone who, particularly because she struggles with depression, needed me. As hard as it is to admit it now, I resented that. I didn’t feel like I could handle that responsibility. So instead, rather cowardly, I ran from it.
It was hard. She was (is) a voice in my head. Nearly every day I would find myself composing letters to her in my head as I walked down the street. Trying to find the words to heal the wounds, both mine and hers.
After several years she emailed me. Although I wanted to, I never found a way to reply. For one thing, I had no idea how to move around the wall. Or maybe I just wasn’t ready to. Some time later she reached out through social media. Lots of mutual friends, and whatnot. I wasn’t hard to find. Though I was hesitant, I thought it could be time.
Life is such a strange journey. There is so much loss. So much change. Surely time and distance, while they don’t really heal wounds, can provide perspective.
I’ll be honest, I still hesitated. It felt too easy for it to be so comfortable. To slide right back into a conversation we’ve been having for decades. Even when we weren’t talking, it seems our dialog continued.
My Beecharmer and I met up a few months back. Although we’ve been reconnected for a few years now, this was the first time we’d been face to face in maybe a dozen years. For days before I was a nervous wreck & full of questions: “Does the missing time need to be addressed? Can we just leave it in the past and be thankful we found ourselves on the other side of the chasm?”
As was ever the case, we were 3 for dinner. Another of my old college roommates, now the Beecharmer’s wife, joined us. Not remarkably, it was like falling through time. The three of us were exactly the same, drinking and laughing, cursing too much and too loud for the middle aged moms we are. Only instead of talking about classes we talked about our kids.
Some people say forgive and forget. Nah, I don’t know. I say forget about forgiving and just accept. -Debi, Grosse Point Blank-