Monday, February 23, 2009

Letter From A Friend...Continued/Part Two

For those of you who think I am going to tell some steamy, sexy tale of my long lost lover, you should just quit reading. This is not a love story of that sort, although it IS a love story in its own right.

To be clear, S and I have never been lovers; in fact, we've never shared more than hugs, lots of east coast style hello and goodbye kisses and he's held me together, literally, more times than I can count. Our dating histories have always been somewhat the opposite. If I'm single, S is fully entrenched in relationship, or vice versa. We were, after all, sometimes 2,000 and then recently nearly 4,000 miles apart.

That day, that first summer, it marked a beginning. A beginning of a friendship that would ebb and flow throughout fifteen years as friendships typically do. S and I spent the first summer as adventurers/friends in crime. We'd hop into his truck and galavant around the countryside; hike in peoples' backyards, rock climb, tube down the river, play bar games, attend festivals, drive up little known hollers, and rock climb abandoned mine shafts. Mostly though, we laughed. We swapped stories of where we'd been; where we hoped to go next. And we made fun of each other. We were easy, fast friends.

I returned to Iowa at the conclusion of that summer with a fierce determination to stay in touch. I was in love with Vermont, I visited often. I traveled there several times throughout the coming years; in the fall to see the foliage, in the winter to snowboard the Green/Adirondacks, and even a couple times during mud season, because I wanted to be there when everyone else wasn't.

And when I moved to L.A. just out of college, S visited me there. Fittingly, the day of his arrival in L.A. was the day I found out I was pregnant with my son. My relationship had since failed, my to-be child's father was well into more than one new relationship, and we were not communicating. It did not matter. S was there.

He held me as the words fell out of my mouth complete with snot and tears and shaking fear and pain. He brushed my long hair back, told me I was strong, I'd make the right decision, and be alright. And minutes later, he helped me pack our things and we headed north to backpack. I was in shock, dismayed, sick stumbling around in the rocks, sand. He held me together, literally and physically. When bears surrounded our campsite the first night, he held me again as I shivered in fear of all the unknown. He promised to be there for me. My son. Whatever it took, he said, he'd do.

The unconditional nature of his friendship totally freaked me out. In a space that would hold so much fear, abandonment, shame, guilt, anger and mistrust throughout the coming years, S was relentlessly and wholeheartedly there. I pushed him away, and yet he was still there. Several years later, after I had pulled together some of the pieces, S and I discussed pooling our money and buying chunk of Vermont land. He couldn't afford it on his own, I wasn't thrilled with the idea of putting down roots in Iowa as it was always meant to be a temporary move back home to get on my feet with my baby, and ultimately we figured if we could both front half the down payment, it would be sound investment.

Something happened, and S called me one night just before things got serious and he bailed. Someone gave him advice, he told me, he was going to make it happen on his own. It was an uncomfortable situation for us both, and it took the wind out of my sails. I wanted this, this dream I had of escaping some day to Vermont, to build T and me a cabin in the woods. It was not to be. I took my stash of savings instead and purchased a house in Iowa. I brushed the feelings of it all aside, but largely, I shut myself off as far as S went.

Sure, there would be visits, some chats from that point on, but things changed. I fell in love, moved to Washington. Around the same time, S fell in love, married and he and his wife moved into the cabin S built on that land. They had two kids. And recently, they divorced.

S appeared via email the other day after I found an updated address for him in an account I rarely use. He cannot type for shit, and yet he wrote me one of the longest, most heartfelt letters I've ever received.

He apologized. Took ownership for all those things he felt responsible for in the distance that came between us in these past years. His letter made me bawl like a baby. Not because I hadn't forgiven him long ago. I had. But because of this part somewhere in the middle of his letter that reads:

"...every time I think of you I remember what a tremendous time we used to have hanging out and talking and laughing... never having to guess what the other was thinking or explain ourselves to one another... that was nice. If there were two ways to interpret things, we would always side with the best possible outlook, because each of us knew that the other would never say anything to hurt the other or cause ill-will...."

It reminded me first and foremost how glad I am he's/we're back, how much I've missed our easy frienship. And also how insanely shitty awful it feels when someone does not give you the benefit of the doubt.

In the moment of reading that line, I realized how far I've come...and yet how very far I still have to go, in terms of living this truth of siding with the best possible outlook for myself with ALL people I've come across in life...and among so many other gifts; I will once again can thank S for being unabashedly and wholly there...just when I needed him.

1 comment:

  1. so here i've stumbled onto your blog again and am again struck at your way with words. had to shut my office door to continue reading b/c didn't want ppl to see me on someone's blogsite. cursing myself out for not finishing my 50-pg brief in order to read on. but was worth it. i'll be back for more . . . emily