Two Friends

Marriage: a book of which the first chapter is written in poetry and the remaining chapters in prose.

~ Beverly Nichols

His birthday is the day after mine. Which makes me exactly one day older than him. A fact that I’ve enjoyed rubbing in on numerous occasions.

Her birthday is the day after Valentine’s Day. Always a day late in regards to love.

He lives near the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Always has and probably always will.

She too lives in Minnesota. More toward the center of the state, though. It’s an intentional return to her roots, for along the path of her life she has been found living in many other faraway, sunnier places.

He has always been the quiet one, content to hit the books – professionally speaking – and play the occasional round of golf. He finds the greatest pleasure in mowing the yard.

She has her pensive moments, but is generally more outgoing. She grows vegetables in a greenhouse she built, and writes the most amazing poetry.

He and his wife recently welcomed their first child, a baby boy that shares his name. He was born just last week, and the family is doing well.

She is the mother of paternal twin boys. And she grieves because they will never see their uncle, her baby brother, again. Her family buried him just last week. Her family isn’t doing so well.

He was my roommate in college. We’d watch the Vikings on Sunday afternoons and walk to Wally’s together for supper.

She was my wife’s roommate in college. We’d stay up late, listening to Queensrÿche and talking about relationships and religion. She’d make fun of me for playing air guitar.

They’ve been divorced almost as long as we’ve been married.

I look at pictures from our wedding day. He is at my side, looking way better than me in his tuxedo, a gentle friend with a steady hand. She is at my wife’s side, smashing in her peach gown, her laughter lightening the heaviness of it all. I recall a visit to their home after things settled down, the prose setting in, our stories so different beneath the matching covers. I remember thinking how her extravagant menagerie of treasures looked so out of place within the stoic walls of the house they shared. I marveled at the amount of patience they must have toward one another to make things work. Wondered how often their boat rocked, and contemplated the effort required to right such a wobbly vessel. I wasn’t completely surprised when they split. In a textbook display of self-righteous arrogance, I chose sides and hurt her deeply, more than I’ve ever hurt anyone before or since.

It’s all so much water under the bridge now. There, but powerless. Time coupled with humility and forgiveness have mended the rend, and she has become the iron that sharpens me, the Muse that fans my creative flame when it grows dim. He and I talk occasionally. Though seldom face to face, we did cross paths on his second wedding day. It felt good to take my place in the pew and watch him take this next step in his life, to see that twinkle of adventure in his eye as he looked deeply into the soul of his radiant bride. I applauded his patience, and his willingness to ride the waves once again.

Two friends on separate paths, each well outside the purview of the other. Neither mentions the other when I’m around or asks how the other is doing. And so today, as I’ve done numerous times in the past, I do the impossible, walking down two roads simultaneously. Joy and sadness. Two emotional pathways diverging deep in the heart of Indiana. Each on its own road toward destinations miles apart. Happy and hurting and torn in two. And since I can’t tell them, I’m telling you . . .

[photo credit]


17 thoughts on “Two Friends

  1. I am stunned by the sheer breadth of this post; you capture so well the two diverse people and paths, and for some reason it made tears well up-for both of them, for you.

  2. I often wonder, given that half of all marriages end in divorce, which of our “couple friends” will head down that path.

  3. This is very appropriate right now, as i have two friends who are both good people, just not when they are together.

    Truthfully, sometimes those two people are me and my husband.

  4. Starry-eyed romances are often the casualties of adulthood. I’ve had several friends go through this, though I was lucky enough to not have history with both of them. Don’t envy you that position at all.

    What an awesome way you have of painting a scene.

  5. Having gone through a divorce, I’ve often wondered what it was like for our mutual friends. Did they feel like they had to take sides? Do they now?

    Beautifully written! As always…

  6. had to read this twice to fully comprehend the depth and… is it ‘grief’? a hard balance, but it’s a gift that you can do it for them…

  7. Good Lord this is a stunning post. Your emotion comes through so clearly. It left me breathless. I don’t know how some people stay together and some people don’t. I just lost a BIL to divorce and it makes me very sad. The thing is I won’t have to walk the path you do. You seem to do it well after a rocky start. Thank you for this insightful post.

  8. Again, I LOVE your writing, which is why I am so excited for your first post on Real World!

    I’m sorry about the loss mentioned above. It’s funny how far reaching that is.

    I to have couple friends whom have divorced and are now living seperate lives… one side I always talk to more than the other… it’s not that I choose sides, it’s almost as if they choose me?

    So very well written.

  9. This post hit me square in the gut, right before welling up in my heart. Very, very well written and portrayed.

  10. Nicely written. It’s amazing how people drift into and out of our lives. The ones that stay – they’re golden.

  11. Good God man, that was beautiful. We are beginning to encounter more friends who have gone their separate ways, and it is very hard. I am glad time has mended that rend for you. Sometimes there is no reason to let a good friend go despite what our culture tells us.

  12. We have many friends who have divorced but haven’t had to make the difficult decision of which side to choose yet as they have all been “his friend” or “My friend”. When this eventually happens, and it will, it will kill me.

    Beautifully written.

  13. My brother in law dated one of my long-time friends for a while. When they broke up, it made things very difficult. He’s family, she’s my friend. My wife and I didn’t want to take sides, but it seemed like we were alone in that stance. These things can get ugly so fast.

  14. That was so well written. Bravo!

    There is so much will never understand about others, even our friends. I’m constantly amazed at the new facets of my friends that stumble across.

  15. This was beautiful. When very close friends split, it feels as if a part of me is splitting too. I have a friend who I continue to slow-pitch the idea of remarrying her ex-husband. I do the same thing to him. It’s my selfish desire. They fixed what was broken by ending the marriage. Seems to work for them. Makes me sad.

  16. Thanks for sharing your perspective, I always dwelled on my own reality without really thinking about how it affected other people, or maybe I just didn’t want to ask, but I knew it must have been difficult. But time has a way of healing wounds, less painful at least. Nicely written, my eyes teared up. My condolences to Jen.

    By the way, I hate mowing the lawn.

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