Do you all think we are ready? The party starts in one hour!
…on weekday mornings, after dropping the kids off at school, coming home to a pot of coffee and my blog reader, the whole day stretching out before me.
Especially a day like today, sunny and warm, the house (relatively) clean, and nothing urgent to do for work.
For some reason I feel a twinge of jealousy whenever a friend tells me that she is pregnant.
Even though I myself was once pregnant and carried the baby (my younger son) to term.
Even though I do not want a third child.
It’s like a carry-over or something, from my past struggle with infertility.
Despite acting like he doesn’t understand what we say, Gege has a very good sense of what is allowed and what isn’t, and more or less follows our household rules.
So because that’s what he learned at school, for a long time Gege thought that he had to sit on the potty to do all his potty business. But one day, we were at a playground and he suddenly started grabbing at his crotch. I asked if he needed to pee and he nodded. We were in our little community playground, and there was no public restroom, and home was a 3-4 minute walk. Since there was no one else around, I quickly decided that he could pee on a nearby tree.
I cannot even describe the look of wonder that appeared on Gege’s face as soon as the pee hit the tree. He completely lit up and got a HUUUGE smile on his face. I didn’t know it then, but I had created a monster.
It started off small, at first. The next day he came home from school and wanted to pee on a bush in our yard. Thinking nothing of it, I let him. But then he wanted to pee there again the next day. And the next day. And the next. He started to get creative and would wave the stream around, in circles, in a straight line, up and down. It got to the point where he would only pee outside. And he would be SO HAPPY doing it. Luckily we have high fences around both the front and back yards. Once in a while I can get him to pee in the potty still, especially when it’s dark outside. And thank goodness he only does poop in the potty.
It just cracks me up because he is such a boy.
For a brief period during college, I thought I wanted to be an English major, and took a few introductory English courses. All I remember from them is reading (and writing explications for) tons of poems lamenting about the passage of time. As a 19 year old, I was like, what is wrong with these people? Why are they so obsessed with time? I totally didn’t get it.
Well, now I’m 35. And now, I get it. I was driving to work and thinking about some movie that is set about 300 years in the future. I was thinking about how when we get to the year that the movie is supposedly set, the people of that time will probably find the movie amusing and totally off the mark. Then I thought, well, I won’t know because I won’t be alive. And suddenly I felt this extreme anger at the unfairness of it all, that I’ve worked so hard and gone through so much, only to DIE at the end of it all. I’d never thought that before, but the more I thought about it, the angrier I got, and then I thought, so this is what all those poets were talking about. It was like, “What? I’m not more special than anyone? I really am going to die like everyone else??” Which of course I always knew, intellectually, but I dunno…I just never really thought of it before. And since I am not religious, I don’t believe in any sort of eternal ever after. Just that when you die…. you’re dead. That’s it. Over.
Damn. That SUCKS.
When I was in junior high, I met the girl who would be my best friend for most of my formative years. I was extremely shy, but I would see her around campus surrounded by friends, always smiling and happy, and wished I was as confident as she seemed to be. In the 8th grade, her PE locker was next to mine and she would say hi and make small talk. At first I was too shy to respond much, but she was so nice and friendly that before long, I got over it and we became friends.
At some point, we started to identify each other as best friends. But for some reason, she held part of herself back from me, and that made me jealous of any of her time and attention that was not given to me. For example, I would ask if she wanted to hang out after school, but she would say she needed to study. Then the next day I would find out that she spent the evening hanging out with another friend. I’d get angry, but she would explain it was because the other girl was her neighbor, and I lived so far away (a 20-minute drive).
She would pull stunts like that on me all the time, and it drove me crazy. I was forever writing long, angst filled notes to her about how I thought we were best friends, that she needed to make more of an effort, and we would eventually make up and then the cycle would begin again.
It was just a really odd friendship where we were always walking on eggshells around each other all the time. I’d never had a best friend before her, and I didn’t know what it was supposed to BE like. At the same time, I was coming out of my shell and making a lot of new friends, the type of friends where I could say whatever I wanted and be completely myself around them. It wasn’t that my best friend was against self expression or anything like that…because she couldn’t be herself around me, either. Looking back I think we were just two completely different people, and that I shouldn’t have kept trying to force this “best friendship” on the two of us.
After we went to separate universities, it became even harder to keep up the relationship. But I tenaciously held on, convinced that our friendship would overcome any obstacles standing in our way. She grew increasingly distant, prompting ever more forlorn letters from me, asking why didn’t she return my phone calls, why didn’t she ever write to me? All of my (true) close friends would ask why was I still friends with her if she made me feel that way. I don’t even know if I had a satisfactory answer for that.
The breaking point came after my first year as a consultant. I was living it up, making good money, and enjoying life. We still called each other best friend, but I was getting more and more exasperated with her self righteousness and not-so-subtle disapproval of my lifestyle (she wasn’t into drinking and clubbing). After one too many phone calls where I felt like I was talking to the air, I’d had enough. I sat down and wrote the most vicious email I’ve ever written before or since. I was feeling really hurt by her treatment of me and wanted to hurt her back. Without even thinking about it, I sent it off. I immediately regretted it, but there was no way to take it back.
I called her, we cried, I apologized profusely, and she said it was OK and that we were still friends. But over the next few days and weeks, I realized it was not OK. Whereas she was merely distant before, she began to actively avoid me – not difficult when we lived hundreds of miles away from each other. Finally, I wrote another email – “what’s wrong? I thought you said you had forgiven me.” Her response was slow in coming, but it was the final nail in the coffin. She realized, after thinking about it a lot, that she couldn’t be friends with me anymore. My letter was so hateful and so unwarranted, that she could no longer trust me not to hurt her like that again. She said maybe we could be friends again one day, but for now she wanted to keep her distance.
We haven’t been friends since. That was 10 years ago. About a year after she first stopped talking to me, she wrote me a letter to explain why she had to take a break from me. She admitted in the letter that she was jealous of my success and that she had consciously given up on our friendship years before (without telling me) because she thought I didn’t “need” her anymore. She said she was in a bad place and just couldn’t handle the stress of our relationship at that time. Yet the letter was sort of opened ended…I read it 100 times and couldn’t tell whether it was an attempt to become friends again or not. In the end, I felt more annoyed than happy, especially at the idea that she had deliberately pulled back from me while I was making so much effort to maintain our friendship. I dashed off a scathing letter to her saying that if the situation had been reversed, I would never have stopped being her friend, or some such nonsense. She didn’t respond. A few months later, I felt bad and wrote another, more mature letter, but she didn’t respond to that either. About 3 years ago, I wrote one last time…. and again got no response. So yeah…. that’s about as dead as anything can get.
I still think about her quite often. I wonder how she is doing, whether she ever thinks of me.
But I learned from this friendship how to be a real friend, and how to pick real friends. I’ve learned not to be as crazy demanding as I used to be. I’ve learned to be very discerning in choosing a good friend. I AM still a demanding friend, but within reason, and I try to give as good as I get and better. I mostly have only very high quality friends now.
And I learned that friendships do have limits. And that once you cross a line, you can never go back.
I’m now experiencing the death of another friendship. This time, I’m the one who is choosing to withdraw my friendship from somebody else. It has made me think of my best friend of my youth and wonder if this is how she felt when she chose to end her friendship with me.
It’s been an emotional week for me. I guess I jinxed myself.