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Never

April 15, 2013

A friend of mine (& by now you know I don’t use the word lightly) took exception to my last post & gave me a Gandhi-style ass chewing, the message being that relationships were different now, the best you can hope for is an email now & again, you get what you send out, kumbaya. You know the drill. I don’t think he read my post “Better than Nothing,” so Scotty, if you’re reading this, you should probably do that now.

At first I thought it was just some random asshole posting a comment & told him to Fuck Off. Then I realized it was my Scotty & I provided a bit of an explanation by way of email, which follows:

Ouch.

Do you actually think I would be upset about someone not making an effort to stay connected that I also had not made the effort for??? What on earth do you take me for, Scott?

Obviously I’m talking about people who don’t answer emails and don’t answer calls and never write. Or they write just enough to make me think it’s a living breathing friendship and do the bare minimum (“Like” things on FB, which I’m really starting to hate, but never even have an actual conversation) and still think that qualifies as a friendship. Which it may to you, maybe you are willing to think that relationships have changed so much that they don’t need more than that any more, but not where I come from.

The mode may have changed, Scott, but people are exactly the same. Human evolution is not nearly as fast as technological evolution. Humans’ needs are the same as they were 10, 50, a thousand years ago, and what you give to love is the same, and relationships will die without what they need. Period. Technology has just made people lazy when it comes to friendships. It’s like mass hypnosis. Everyone thinks certain things are okay, but they aren’t okay.

For what it’s worth, I mentioned you in one of those posts as being one of the only people to offer to help me when I was really struggling. The form it took was that you said you would help if you could, but I appreciated that more than you know. Now here you are chewing my ass.

 Maybe I’m spoiled. I’ve been blessed with having been loved and cared for by truly loyal and generous people in my life. Not just generous with money, but generous in spirit, in kindness. Mark, my ex, there was nothing that guy would not do for you, it would make your jaw drop. My family was the same way. My friend Tom, the same. Mike, my neighbor, who just died. Absolutely heroic friends. And yet, their generosity was effortless. It was like breathing for any one of them to drop a line or ask if I needed anything or help in an emergency. Second nature. And there was nothing I wouldn’t have done, and plenty I did do, for any of them, either. They raised the bar for everyone else I’ll ever know, but so what. I’m sure not going to lower my standards because the rest of the world is complacent.

 I don’t know how your comment got through, I thought my presets were “comments off,” but I’m not really writing that blog because I want anyone’s opinion. I’ve listened to enough people tell me I should be satisfied with the crumbs that fall from the tables of people who are too busy or lazy to act like real friends, and who couch it in lots of New Age language that really just boils down to rationalization, and I’m simply not buying it. If you don’t like what I have to say on that blog, Scotty, change channels.

The people I mentioned, my incredible friends and family: The thing is, they are all dead. Every last one, and I don’t mean that metaphorically. So right now, all of this heated discourse I’m having with myself (did you think it was anything else?) is an(other) expression of grief, my attempt to acknowledge and accept that on ever deeper levels so that I can escape my past, my very rich past, because without my loved ones, the future seems so bleak.

I’ve made friends in the past 10 years, but I don’t take any of those friendships seriously. Not really. Somewhere in my mind, I think of the people I know now as  substitutes for the ones I’ve lost, the quality of whom cannot be matched. Terribly unfair, I know. The thing is, I’m like one of those people with amnesia you read about. Someone who has to be told every day that her mother, father, sisters, best friends have all died. The realization that I will never see them again cuts every time, dulled only slightly by the passing of time. So when I use the word “never,” as I just did in the last sentence, you can be certain I have raised the understanding of the meaning of that word to an art form. “Never” is one of those words that you understand only once you know death.

Before that, “never” is just a word mommy uses to prescribe certain behaviors, or it’s a word you use to measure relative durations, or to convey the internal chaos the notion of infinity makes you feel. But the first time you lose someone and you realize you will never see that person again…that’s when it really hits home. So it’s not really a function of age. If you are lucky  enough to still have your family walking around, or never to have lost a friend to cancer or AIDS or a broken heart, you simply do not know the meaning of that word, and no amount of explanation will do.

All those losses changed me. I used to think eventually I’d go back to who I was before they happened. It took a very long time to realize that I had lost “That Me” as well. Would never see her again. I had an inkling of this when I wrote once that not only did I want to go back in time to be with a certain loved one, I wanted to be who I was when she was still alive. And I tried like hell for a decade to do just that. But friends, you can’t go home again. You can only be who you are now and let those deaths inform your being like a car in a bad hail storm.

A cluster thickly clumped glows bluely between rock and anemone.
All is vague but for the shining which are mine to keep but just out of my reach
And I can’t hold my breath or fathom icy water.
Just want to find my pearl and shimmer to the surface
With the jewel between my teeth.

I wrote that, premonitorily enough, in my 20s. Who knew those pearls would be the result of decades of loss grating against my insides? I figure that if I can stick it out I will be out of pain and have something of value in the end. I read an interview with Mia Farrow once, she said Life is basically just a string of losses, one after the other, and you show your grace by how you behave between them. At the time I did not know the meaning of the word “never.” Now I think of those pearls, that necklace, myself, that haze of blue glowing.

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