Thursday, November 02, 2006

She awoke to the hum of the furnace and could feel the warmth in the air. Clank clank went the radiators. Her heart sang. IT'S FRIDAY!!!

Perhaps my "not liking blogging" is due in part to the fact that it has been a point of connection for me and right now I do not feel very connected. I feel like the neverending loop in my head is, "Was it me? Was it something I said? Was it something I did? Tell me, so I can make it better! Break the silence, I can't stand this anymore!"

Relationships are the most important thing in my life. When Em and I talk about where we would want to get married, she thinks about the qualities of a building and I think about Bellefield, where I have so many relationships--I couldn't imagine getting married anywhere else. I don't use this as a "singleness" moment but just as an illustration of HOW relational I am.

The piece I'll start re-working come January, the piece that will be submitted as portfolio for the Carlow MFA in writing program, is all about relationships. What happens when best friends get other friends, and/or boyfriends and what happens when things fall apart.

So, I was intrigued by the following book, the Myth of You & Me by Leah Stewart. I wanted so much to love it. It has a photo on the cover of two hands holding, one gloved in red, one not. The premise is this: Cameron lives with her employer, a literary critic who is dying. One day she gets a letter from her estranged best friend from high school and college, Sonia, who is getting married. Cameron does not want to deal with the letter, much less respond to it. (Play some dramatic music here.) Eventually, Oliver dies, and his bequest to Cameron is a package that must be delivered in person to Sonia as a wedding gift.

So in what turns out to be a wild goose chase, Cameron leaves Oliver's house in search of Sonia. This is where it gets a little too convoluted. We meet Sonia's co-workers, ex-boyfriends, Cameron's's a little too much. When Cameron does finally find Sonia, Sonia says, "I wondered if you would really come," as if Sonia meant for the goose chase, which (my supposition based only on the text) she probably did not.

The gift, once opened (I know, spoilers, but the CONCEPT of this book is better than the book, trust me on this one) is a letter to Cameron (yes, not a wedding gift for Sonia, as we had been led to believe) telling Cameron that he, Oliver, is a imposter. He had the same birthday as a guy he met in the army? and (I care so little that I'm not going to go back and re-read it) and so when that guy died, that guy's aunt took fake Oliver in and said, "Do you want to be Oliver?" Which meant he had to eschew everything from his old life, including Billie, his once amour (who was barely mentioned in the beginning, but Cameron has been carrying around a photo of this woman). It was so anti-climactic--like Oliver was the most selfish bastard, I'm dead, my wedding gift to your friend is really for you, it is my true identity.

Here I'm hoping to read insight into the reunion of these friends who have crossed each other in the worst ways possible (sleeping with almost fiances and leaving the other in the middle of Texas at a gas station) that love does conquer all. I get that, but Oliver's story is distracting. I felt cheated.


I had a friend. I chose the wrong airport, I didn't pay her back right away, and seventeen years are gone. (Of course, it is never that simple.) I had a friend. We met every week for coffee. Now there is a silence I don't know how to broach. I had a friend. I cut it off because I realized I was getting too close in an unhealthy manner. Relationships are HARD work. But for me they are the most important work I'll have this side of glory. I want to do the work. I had a friend. She stopped coming to work. We used to eat lunch every week. I don't know how she is. I had a friend. She got engaged and then he dumped her. We usually talk every other day on our cell phones. I haven't talked to her since Friday night. She called last night and I just did the uh huh, uh huh, even when she was talking about my birthday party.

There is a line from About A Boy (the book, not the movie) that sums this up for me: in the opening sequence, Fiona, Marcus's mother has just broken up with her current boyfriend, just before the pizza was delivered. Marcus ponders,

"He didn't think he'd ever get used to this business. He had quite liked Roger, and the three of them had been out a few times; now apparently, he'd never see him again. He didn't mind, but it was weird when you thought about it. He'd once shared a toilet with Roger, when they were both busting for a pee after a car journey. You'd think that if you'd peed with someone you ought to keep in touch with them somehow." (Nick Hornby: About a Boy, p. 1-2)

I guess that's the way I feel about it, in a litany of moments shared with different friends: I borrowed eggs to bake a cake. I borrowed your hairdryer the morning mine broke. I was there the day your child was born. I talked you through chemo. We walked your dogs in Frick Park. I listened night after night as you told me about your fiance. And today, if I called you on the phone, what would we talk about? We live our lives next to each other and then one day we change and we forget to tell each other.

I miss you. Not you, one person, but the plural you, all of you. I do. I realize I may never see you again, it will never be the same again, but I wish that it could be. I wish that it could be different, if that would make it possible for us to live our lives together again.

Go hug someone. Don't drive home alone in the rain singing along with Cyndi Lauper. Pull over, use that cell phone, and call someone you miss, someone that may very well be missing you. Go! I'll be here (and all of a sudden I burst into song) "when the day is new, and I'll be dah duh and you'll have things you'll want to talk about, I will too." (Lyrics courtesy Fred Rogers.)

And I just visited BTS where BB is not only perking along with her novel but dazzling us all with perfect posts. She's gonna be famous--wait, she already is!


Oh and in other news, I really gotta do laundry, pay the bills, and do the dishes. None of which will move me forward in the relationship arena...if I think that all my relationships are outside this drafty garett. But if I remember that the most important relationships ARE right here, I'd think that taking care of me is pretty darn important. Darn, how could I have forgotten that, so quickly?


Amy said...

Oh, I couldn't agree more. Relationships are what it is all about. I have never aspired to do anything AMAZING with my career, but simply to love and to be loved. I hope, before I die, to love someone enough that they might know all my secrets and love me still.

I like this post, Sarah Louise. I do. Sometimes letting go of a friend teaches us more than the friendship alone did. I have people that I wish I could talk to to see how they are doing, but I really don't want them back in my life on a regular basis, so I don't reach out. Let sleeping dogs lie, I guess.

mo said...

i had a friend once. she was, for a time, my best friend; she was at the bith of my child and subsequently became his godmother, and then she went all rude and grumpy and i stopped calling and going to see her and i hear from people mostly that shes makin derogatory comments about me but apparently she told a mutual friend a couple of weeks ago that she missed having me around because she would have liked my advice during her pregnancy.

my first peice of advice would be, sometimes, when you act like an ass, its okay to back down and apologise for being like that.

but sometimes i think i shuold be the one that calls ehr and apologises - for what, i'm not sure - and see if we cent pick up where we left off. because apart from the fact that she was kind of a crappy friend, she was also a kind of good friend too. and i miss that.

like marcus, i feel that if you push an eight pound baby out of your vagina while swearing profusely in front of someone, you should remain in some kind of contact with them.

ANYWAY. my point was that i found your post inspiring. very well done.