…to July 26, 2010
I answered the door a few days ago to two middle-aged, sweating men in suits. (Romney impersonators for hire, I wondered?) They were Jehovah’s Witnesses. My first time—no kidding. I had been wondering if “Jehovah’s Witness” was a euphemism for something else, like “roofing company who wants to give a ‘free estimate'”.
But no, there they were, wanting to talk about, well, I’m not sure. See, the thing is, I answered the door with one of our rats on my shoulder, her nearly hairless tail slowly slinking across my neck. I pointed out the mezuzah, and just as they were starting to say that they spoke to people of all faiths, the rat, Remi, shifted slightly —maybe to get a better look.
All it took was for one of their gazes to graze slightly below my eyes and to my shoulder and they were OFF like a flash! Like the Red Sea parting! Like Jesus hightailing home to Dad just in time for Easter! Like…like they’d seen a rat on a jewess’s shoulder!
(I am VERY excited about roofing season…)
I have (had) these two friends–a couple–that I’d known for about 6 years. We’d become pretty close and they’d become close with my kid. We’d been there for each other through some rough times: family deaths, job losses, illness, pet deaths, childlessness issues.
Then, all of a sudden, last December, they stopped talking to me. Both of them. The last time I saw them was at one of their birthday parties. I brought wine, a gift, and even took off my the sweater I’d worn and gave it to the hostess when I was leaving because she loved it so much. (Needless to say, I said it wasn’t a favorite of mine anyway–which was completely untrue–but I figured that after what she’d been through this year, it was just a simple token of my love and friendship for her.
I’m an idiot.
Then one day, I send an email inviting the two of them to a glass blowing experience–on me, of course–as well as updates on the family, asking about the now orange-sweatered gal and her grieving process (her dad just died and boy did we try to be there for her and her partner…AND their dog). I immediately received this curt reply:
“Thanks for the invite, but no can do. Super busy right now.”
(I keep these sorts of things in case I forget who these people are or forget why it is we dropped out of each others’ lives.)
I wrote back and asked if that was all I was worth, a 12-word response without even signing her name.
No response. From her or her partner–who isn’t much of a writer/speller/reader anyway and yet still makes whopping boatloads of money doing…not quite sure, actually, but makes sure that YOU know that SHE makes the sort of money she does. You know, a typical come-from-no-money to now having money story and behavior that I’ve always let slide. (MEEEEOWWWW! Annik!)
And it’s 6 months later. Not even a call on my birthday.
Here’s the irony of this — and it is thick: My daughter is going through, with many of the 4th and 5th grade girls, daily dramas about who is friends with whom and who is being mean and who is gossiping and how the younger friends from last year’s class just don’t understand that when you’re in a different grade and a different class you still love them but can’t always be or play with them because you’re trying to cultivate new friends too, people with whom you spend all day…and so on and so forth. Bian and I have many sit-down chats about how it’s important to TALK about what is going on so that it doesn’t fester and you don’t lose friends over things that maybe aren’t weren’t losing them over. That sometimes it’s scary to confront someone because maybe they’d said something hurtful. I try to teach Bian to not say a lot of “you”s when talking to this person; make it more about how SHE is feeling and not what the other person did or did not do.
And yet two 40-something women can’t even do that. And even if they tried now, it’s too late. I mean 6 months? Really? What could I possibly have done between the time we had a great birthday party to that weak response to my generous offer?
Of course I’ll always be somewhat curious, but I’ve let it go because life is short and people are weird and insecure (insecure is the key word here with that one) and I need to let my daughter understand that things like this happen. Even when we never find out why.
So it’s like mourning a death of two friends.
But more than that…
First lines of her new book Lots of Candles and Plenty of Cake:
” It’s odd when I think of the arc of my life – from child to young woman to aging adult. First I was who I was. Then I didn’t know who I was. Then I invented someone and became her. Then I began to like what I’d invented. And finally I was what I was again.”
I think I am starting to get that. I remember who I was as a kid–I remember beign my most powerfulas a kid at age 11-12, before puberty came on. And then I didn’t know who I was. And yes, like Anna, I created someone I thought I wanted to be–should be, tried to be. And now that I’m inching toward 50, I think I’m back to feeling powerful about the real me, about who I am. I’m certainly not 11 or 12 again, but I am feeling powerful about what I want to say and how I want to say it.
This week’s “events” have certainly crystallized that. And while they’ve casued several sleepless nights, filled with dark thoughts and anxeity-driven roanings about the house, I can’t help but feel there is someting more in motin here and if I follow it, it’ll follow me.
I wonder if a fellow columnist like Anna Quindlen would dain to talk to me about this. Maybe I should just read her book.
THis is entirely surprising to me.