I have several friendships that are at a distance both in time and in space. The longest is with the person this entry is dedicated to. She was the first of my friends to move away in our mid-teens. Ironically before she left we didn't quite like each other, both for our own particularly valid reasons. For the summer before she left we connected through combination of four chicks experimenting with boundary pushing. Of all of us she seemed the most "normal," her parents were together (until after she moved away); she had always a sense of herself that at the time I didn't know was even possible to have.
A summer of finding places to smoke our weed, scoping out boys, who despite being the objects of our rebellious dating phase (In other worlds nothing like the men two of us have married and I am about to) all had some kindness in them. The summer rolled to a close at the EX where we pushed against our curfews as one. And then she was gone.
Of us four I was probably the least effected by her leaving, but I thought of her, and because she was in my thoughts (and probably because I was grounded) I began to write to her. I thought she might be lonely. Her warm response surprised me and that was the start of my very first distant friendship.
Now, nearly thirty years later we write rarely, and talk only a few times a year. I get the Christmas card she sends with the kids smashed across the front. I look for her in their faces every time and occasionally I send her a pretty card to let her know that I still do that from time to time.
She did a lot according to plan and married as she finished College and started her career, and with her husband, she built the latest version of the American Dream.21c, and had three kids whom I know nothing about beyond who looks like her and what sports they are into, and that's fine. Her more than full time life doesn't reflect my marginal existence and I think it surprises us both that we stay in touch, so different as we are. The angle of our connection can make for a kaleidescope view, like the optical instrument in which bits of glass, held loosely at the end of a rotating tube, are shown in continually changing symmetrical forms by reflection in two . . . mirrors set at angles to each other *. Each time we talk the pieces of our lives come together through our individual scopes making each of us a picture of details, changing the view for the other. These details -- some significant, some not -- do not give either of us a full appreciation, but I think it does give us something important.
Recently she bravely pointed out that we don't understand each other's lives very well. And she is right. Despite my desire to argue the point with a turn of my tube, I do not know how the general themes of the worked for dreams fit inside her, nor can I perceive the way the her light filters the fragments of her life except by what can be heard through a cheap long distance plan joining of our lives in under 11 digits and 5 bucks.
In a world divided into success and failure she falls into the first and I follow up behind. By the values of what makes life worth while (by some estimations), family and career, I am a pagan. So I respond at the key board out of a caring curiosity. Can we understand each other better despite her limited time and my marginal existence?
I'd like us to, even if only in fragmented pieces through the aide of technology. All understanding between points is good. I understand her grace, which I've witnessed more than once. Her kindnesses toward me, even though she doesn't quite get my life, always brings a lasting smile and her concerned questions, most of which I cannot even answer in a short phone call, allow me a connection to a life I could never have lived. I'm not sure how to tell her that I've accepted this fact, without fear of diminishing all that she has accomplished (It's not for the weak) or denying how much I have (Also not for the weak) , despite the different results.
In one of our rare calls several years ago I got to say to her, "Hey, guess what? For the fist time in fifteen years I am pain free!" Her response was all for me; in her fair thinking she expressed her desire for me to go out and live life, saying, "I'm surprised your not out there working and doing every thing!" How could I explain to her that freedom after a long internment is hard to trust? Because even I know that for most people who become sick and then well, the usual response to feeling better is to do every thing they couldn't while sick. Do I even want her to understand that my gaoler is inside me both in body and in mind? I know she knows some of this. . . How do I help her to understand . . . ( you would not believe what I edited here... tmi) without going "TMI" for a thirty minute phone call?
Back in our judgmental teen years we would have argued about all of this, I'm sure, all the while understanding little of the other. But now I just feel a need to find a hole of clarity in the prism of our particular perspectives. Given a choice I'd rather maintain a connection toward understanding with this distant in time and space friend. Maybe when we're actually old, we'll have more moments of insight because of the shared differences. I'm curious enough to keep up the contact, to attempt an understanding of the little patterns for now, to look at the same pieces through the refracted light and shadow to see how the flecks that colour our lives change and re-arrange; and to take the time for a phone call to say, "Hey! How's your world. Are you o.k.? I think your doing amazingly! How do you do that? It can't be easy being the mommy mind for all those kids, the wife of a busy man; god you must be so sick of being at home, I know I am -- oh, riiight, it's the car you're sick of; your littlest, your middle, your eldest, is . . . You volunteered to do . . . I'm so glad it went so well! Hot damn you sure are something! I'm blown away at how you manage to do it all! Oh, how funny is that! I'm so grateful that you can find the time for a phone call. You gotta go? No problem I understand. Love you, bye."
*Totally ripped from dictionary.com 'cuz it's just too.*