The Dear Friend Alliance

 

 

When did it happen that just because two people were friendly – once – they became bound together as friends for all eternity? I mean – if I meet someone through a friend, let’s say because said friend is dating that person, and that person and I become pals, well, that’s great. But what if said friend is a real asshole to that person and they break up. Why on earth would that person be forever obligated to be my pal, even though I’m still tight with said friend? If that person was wronged (severely, I might add), what sort of pompous ass would I have to be to think that person owed me any sort of friendship? And why is this paragraph making my head hurt?

 

It used to be that if people ended relationships because of assholery, those of us orbiting in their atmosphere were well within our rights to shun the asshole in the equation. Logical, right? Sane even. And certainly decent. If someone cheats on a dear friend in an ugly way, cutting that cheater out of my world is simply a part of my side of the dear friend alliance. No ifs, ands or buts. And to be perfectly clear here, I’m not referring to folks whose relationship ran its course. Some things end. That’s life. And sometimes those endings aren’t filled with rage or pyrotechnics. Sometimes two people quietly pack their belongings, mumble their goodbyes and walk away. Even if there are deep issues (aren’t there always), we don’t deem those friends as being god-awful or undeserving of love. Not everything lasts. I wish there was a better explanation, but sometimes there just isn’t.

 

But I digress. Yes – that’s the way it used to be. You were an asshole to my friend? Then you are dead to me. But that’s not the way I see most people behaving now. These days, it seems that when two people break up, they must somehow remain friends. And so must everyone around them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard friends say, “Oh, we broke up, but we’re still friends!” Some have regular phone conversations or dinner arrangements with exes. And I’m not even talking about people with kids involved. Some exes just, well, keep in touch.

 

And this is where I have a problem, people. If you wronged my sweet friend, if you verbally abused her, if you stole from her, if you you played grab-ass with her friends – all while expecting her to support you spiritually, financially and physically – you are an asshole. And no matter how friendly we were during your relationship with my sweet friend, you and I are now done, motherfucker. My sweet friend can be as nice as an angel. She can choose to treat you with as much respect as she wants. I am not as good a person as my sweet friend, however. So if you walk into a room and see me standing there, don’t pretend the pressures of social norms will lead me to greet you kindly. For they will not. And when I look into your face and tell you that you and I are not friends and I do not want to speak with you, believe me the first time I say it. I shouldn’t have to repeat myself again and again. You are dead to me, asshole. End of story.

 

I’m really not as good a person as my sweet friend. Them’s the breaks. Deal with it.

Get Out of Your Mind

 

 

The other night I was painting at the studio and chatting with my buddy, Nicole. One of the topics covered was the importance of liking our nearest and dearest. And we weren’t merely talking about our romantic partners, either. Liking friends is pretty danged important, too.

 

When we fall in love with someone, we tend to be temporarily blinded to faults and less-than-perfect behavior. He pops his knuckles? That’s so cute! She wears socks to bed? How darling! Some of the things we don’t see at the beginning of a relationship can really drag a person down, five years in. But this is how we’re designed. Our biological imperative is to mate and to insure the survival of our species. That in-the-beginning blindness is our DNA’s way of trying to get knocked up.

 

It isn’t that different when friendships are formed. We become smitten with someone and think they’re the bee’s knees. We overlook the amount of energy required to simply carry on a conversation with a dude. Or we think her petty comments about our hair aren’t petty at all, and maybe she’s on to something and a style change is called for. Only after time has worn away the new relationship fog do we begin to truly see. And once we’ve seen how much effort it takes to entertain that dude, or how that chick’s comments are really veiled insults, only then do we begin to understand how unsuitable that person may be for a lasting friendship.

 

So yes. Liking someone is important. And it’s a two-way street. But I digress.

 

Back to the other night… As the conversation with my buddy progressed, both of us spoke of the value of time apart from our loved ones, no matter how much we like them. She said something about how lovely it is to miss a person. And how important it is to be able to feel that for someone. I agreed. As a gal in a long-friggin’-term marriage, I know what a gift it is to get someone out of our minds once in a while. When I said as much, another thought occurred to me: it is just as important to get away from oneself every now and then.

 

That really got me thinking. I mean – how do I get away from myself, and give me some space? Meditation is one answer. And if you’re a practitioner, you surely know the grace granted from that discipline. Personally, I’ve never been very good at solitary meditation. I tend to benefit more from a class, or from a guided situation. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced meditative bliss. Painting is meditative. So is gardening. Any practice that engages my mind to the point of absorption and single-minded focus is meditative for me. And it is during those moments that I am able to get out of my own mind and, as a result, get a break from myself.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I love me. I do. And most of the time I actually like myself! In fact, I’m quite partial to my own company and truly enjoy my Mikki time. (If you’re lucky, you feel the same way about time with yourself.) It’s beautiful to appreciate one’s company. Beautiful and fabulous. And yet – I occasionally need a break from me. Meditative practices give me those breaks and allow me to miss me.

 

When I realized all this, after talking with my buddy, I knew I had figured out a small part of my relationship with myself. And it made me happy. Not only that, it made me appreciate me even more. As my own best friend and most trusted advocate, that appreciation is a blessing.

 

We’re about to enter that phase of the year when the parties and family get-togethers seem endless. Some of the faces we’ll see will have been missed dearly. Some – not so much. But see them we shall. So let’s try and administer a bit of self-care during these last few months of the year. Let’s engage our minds in meditative activities as often as possible. Let’s give ourselves some love and some space. After all – all those social commitments are temporary. Those relationships, be they family or friend, will never be as intimate as the one we practice with ourselves.

 

Love yourself. Please. You deserve it. I swear to beans.

The Love

 

 

I kind of knew it, going in. I was over the flu. Mister was well. Good food and drink were factors. Our weekend plans were in place – a few commitments, but not too much. Down time was built in. The long weekend was looking good.

 

And it was. It was beautiful, really. Because of all the aforementioned reasons, yes. But also because of The Love. The Love is something you can’t guarantee. You can hope for it, sure. You can even pray. Pray that it shows up. Pray that is consumes and spreads its glow. This past weekend, that’s exactly what The Love did.

 

Last week I was talking with a cousin about long-term relationships. (She’s been married a jillion years plus a few, much like Mister and me.) She said she and her husband had figured out a long time ago that liking your partner was perhaps more important than being in love. I agreed whole-heartedly. Loving a person is easy. Liking a person? Not so much. And when you cohabitate for a long time, liking someone is imperative. Because, I imagine, if you live with someone long-term and you don’t like that person, a butcher knife incident is highly likely. I don’t know this from personal experience, mind you. I’m just guessing here.

 

Anyhoo – I had a fabulous weekend with Mister. The Love was abundant and it couldn’t have been nicer. I wish that feeling of appreciation could be felt the world over, if only for a moment. It really is the best.

One Day

 

 

Today is Valentine’s. And if you get all googly-eyed over it, good on ya. Celebrate away, my friend. Knock yourself out. Really – enjoy!

 

Over the last couple of days, I’ve smiled each time I’ve seen a dude juggling flowers and whatever else it is that dudes carry while getting out of cars and unlocking doors. Some of the guys looked as if they were terrified of somehow hurting the flowers. And though I’m sure chicks have been going through their Valentines preparations, I’ve not seen any of them. Only dudes. It’s been sweet.

 

For me, today is just another day of the week. We don’t have out-of-the-ordinary dinner plans and there will be no flowers or chocolates exchanged in our home. Instead, Mister and I will have Sunday Supper together and maybe catch up on some telly. We will be considerate and kind to one another. We will love each other and we’ll appreciate and respect one another. I can’t tell you what a gift it is to share that with someone every day of the year. We don’t need one day. We get all of them.

 

So when someone asks me about my Valentine’s Day rituals and then feels sorry for me when they hear I don’t have any, well, don’t worry. My rituals are so full of love, most folks wouldn’t believe it. (And we even received a perfect-for-us card, shown above. So fun!)

 

I am truly blessed. And I know it.

Tears of Joy

 

 

The other day, as I opened Christmas cards from friends around the world, I started to cry a bit. Partially because I’m grateful for the dear souls in our lives. And I happen to love getting holiday updates and photos, even if that’s the only time some of us communicate with one another.

 

But mostly, I think the tears of joy were triggered by our friend Craig, from Nashville. He wrote something or another about his gratitude for still being friends with us, after all these years. And I guess I don’t often see it from the other side. I understand how grand it is to know our friends, but it just doesn’t occur to me to see the friendship blessing as a two-way street. Craig reminded me of that, if only for a moment.

 

Mister and I are enjoying the heck out of this year’s card bounty. We’ve already received an embarrassment of riches, and there will likely be more. I won’t remember to view our relationships from the stance of others, but it sure was nice to have a glimpse through Craig’s eyes. And those tears of joy weren’t too shabby, either.

One Year Ago…

 

 

On this date, one year ago, Mister and I were in London, settling in for a Kate Bush show. When I think about it, I still can’t believe we did it. In my mind it is just as awesome as it was in that moment.

 

On this date, 27 friggin’ years ago, Mister and I legally bound ourselves to one another. When I think about that, I can’t believe we did it. We were so very young, and so very clueless. How we knew to cling to each other is a mystery.

 

I feel very fortunate to be married to my best friend. I enjoy his company. I respect his mind. I adore his body. And that guy makes me laugh like no one else on the planet. Not only do I love him deeply, I also happen to really like the guy. That, friends, is none too shabby.

 

I am still in awe of being in a relationship this long. I don’t quite know what to make of it. But I guess I don’t have to make anything of it. I get to live it.

 

Loving that guy now is just as awesome as it was when I first fell for him. And somehow, I keep falling. Wow.

Another Year

 

 

A few months ago I met a remarkable woman who told me that she and her husband have been married 40-some-odd years. She said that each year on their anniversary, they go out for dinner (without their children) and look back at the previous year. She went on to say that after a frank discussion of how that year rated, they then discuss whether or not to sign on for the coming year.

 

I respect her method. “‘Til Death Do Us Part” is nuts. For about a jillion reasons. I mean, sometimes relationships have just run their course. That may be sad or not, but it’s true. And there’s nothing wrong with that, friends.

 

Anyhoo, I don’t know why I’m going on and on about this. Maybe it’s because Mister and I are celebrating adding another year to the tally. And if we sit back and discuss the previous year with the intention of determining whether or not to re-up for another, I can only say that I’m game. Abundantly, happily so.

Catch a Wave

 

“Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world.”

Catch a Wave by The Beach Boys

(written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love)

 

 

Have you ever noticed yourself having the same conversation with several different people, all at different times? Let me clarify. Have you ever noticed a friend bringing up a conversation topic, when a different friend had just brought up the same topic a day or so before? And so on? And so on? I ask because I’ve had that happening in my little world lately. Once I recognized what was going on, I paused to study the subject.

 

Several friends (and I do mean several, y’all) have told me how they’re looking for relationships that are happy and fiery. All the time. As in, they seem to want to catch a wave and never come down. This has been expressed with statements like “I’ve been in a challenging marriage. Now I want to be in a fun relationship, all the time.” “Sometimes I feel passionate, but I want to feel that all the time.” “We have fun, but then she works a lot and I want to have fun all the time!”

 

Now, I’m keen on all those points. Really. But as someone who’s been married about a jillion years, I understand the ebb and flow of relationships. Even if I don’t like it, I know there are up times and down times. And because I’m not 13, I also know what I’m capable of.

 

I can handle fights. One of the greatest things Mister has taught me is to fight all the way through to the other side when arguing. There’s no stopping mid-fight. We hash it out, all the way, until that fight is done, y’all. There aren’t a lot of arguments, granted, but at least we know how to fight. And once we reach the other side, we can let it go. As Mister is fond of saying, we “kiss it goodbye.”

 

I can handle time apart. There have been jobs that have required separations. There have been trips and activities that have kept us apart. And while I prefer to be with that guy, I can handle the times when life plants us in different locations.

 

I can handle lulls. Earmuffs, kids. I am passionate about passion. It is one of the marvels specific to our species. I understand there are a multitude of factors in triggering passion – biology, attraction, hormones, nice asses, etc. I also know there are a multitude of factors that kill passion – age, health, stress, dirty dishes, etc. So when passion takes a nap and refuses to rouse or arouse, I can handle that because I know it will wake at some point, and be good to go.

 

There are stresses, bills, woes, life’s details and duties, and more and more of the world to deal with each and every day. So far – touch wood – I can handle all that, too. And the reason I can handle life’s troughs is knowledge of the crests. Those high points are beautiful, y’all! The times when you’re on the couch with your Schmoopie, laughing at something you recorded and are finally getting around to watching. The moment one of you walks through the front door after being away for a while. The instant you catch sight of that person – the love of your life – across a crowded room and you just start smiling. Because you know that when the music starts playing, you’re gonna dance with the one that brought you. And there isn’t a doubt in your mind about it. Nor in your heart.

 

I’m hoping all the people I know who are looking for love, will find it in spades. And I hope their every dream comes true. I also hope they learn to go with the flow. That life’s waves tend to surge higher and higher. That the low points simply cannot maintain, not with all that upward energy. That because we can handle so much, we are rewarded with so much more in return.

 

Here’s to sitting on top of the world.

Life, The Universe and Everything

 

 

Sometimes stuff pops up in life, stuff that’s out of our control. Undesired stuff. Tough stuff.

 

Some people I adore are dealing with such stuff right now, and I can’t do a danged thing to help. And try as I might, I will never ever know how it feels to stand in their heavy shoes. So what does a gal do, in the face of that?

 

You pray. And you hope. And you have your feelings and you acknowledge all of that, and then you try to breathe. Then, I suppose, you start all over again. And again.

 

Loving people involves admitting how very little we actually control. It involves boundaries. It involves holding on and letting go. It’s work. Worthwhile work, to be sure, but work just the same.

 

As for these darling souls, whom I love so dearly, I’ll just keep loving them. I have no idea how their challenges will play out. I’m sure they don’t know, either. And that sucks. But it’s also just the way it goes. No matter the choices they make, no matter the choices made for them, I love them. And there you go.

 

Again, it’s work. For all of us. But worthwhile work, to be sure.

The Long Goodbye

 

 

This was Old Red on the side of the street yesterday morning. She’s gone now.

 

Some goodbyes take longer than others. They may be dragged out for reasons of necessity, or logistics (as in – “I can’t get rid of Old Red just yet, as we need a place to sit until the new-to-us couch arrives.”). Or a goodbye can be prolonged for reasons of heart (as in – “I can’t get rid of Old Red just yet, as we need a place to sit until the stupid, new-to-us couch arrives. RE-E-E-E-E-E-D!”). Ahem.

 

Whatever the holdup, goodbyes are part of life. We must bid adieu to people, things, relationships, seasons. You name it, it can (and in all eventuality, will) go away at some point. Is that such a bad thing?

 

I don’t think so. Renewal is also a part of life, and it’s lovely. Starting over – with people, things, relationships, seasons – can be uncomfortable, but putting one foot in front of the other usually pays off. I know I’ve yet to be disappointed by a new season. You?

 

For now, I’m starting a new relationship with a sofa. Her name is Water Lily. I think we’re going to get along just swell.