I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.
~ Rainer Marie Rilke
Because I despise shopping, and crowds, and I’m broke, I spent most of my day at home yesterday, scouring, as my friend Pamela calls it, “the effbooks.” Post after post spoke of Thanksgivings surrounded by family and friends, and there seemed to be no end to mobile uploads of pictures filled with smiling faces. Happy people with other happy people who make them happy. So much happy.
Back in the early 90s, I too had friends like that. Fargo, North Dakota. Newlyweds. Jobs and nicer cars and babies on the way. Four couples as tight as though we had a rubber band stretched around us. We did dinner for no reason at all. Grilled meat. Drank pop from two liters that Mark always had to squeeze before putting the lid back on to keep the fizz in. Talked about stuff big and small and stupid and laughed and cried occasionally. And sometimes did nothing at all. Happy.
And then we packed up that big truck and moved away.
Maybe if we’d had the effbooks back then things would be different. We wouldn’t have fallen so far behind or grown older along such tangential paths. We have the effbooks now, sure, but too much has come and gone. I see pictures of their beautiful daughter – who I once held in my arms, rocked gently to sleep – as a senior in ballet slippers, and I don’t know her. Or them. We were in Fargo last fall. I made a phone call or four, hoping for a reunion of sorts, a chance for some happy amidst all the sad, a sign that things hadn’t really gotten that bad, or that the gap wasn’t really all that wide, between us. But people get busy. Have to live their lives, distractions be damned. Even as the effbooks told a different story. Sometimes lies are better; it hurts more seeing the truth.
All these years and there have been other friendships, but none like those. Where secrets are known and they don’t matter. No masks that make us look successful or put together well or on top of things. No smiles that aren’t sincere. No superimposed agenda or pending deadline. Back before trivial things became so unimportant and everything had to weigh thousands and thousands of pounds.
So I took the girls ice skating and made meatloaf and watched a scary movie and played around on the effbooks and started an argument on the effbooks and got teased about how I use . . . too much. I hung out with my one true friend and the mother of my children. The one who knows me best and most and refuses to leave me because, well, she just doesn’t do that. I push and she absorbs and we live and love and I have her when I have nothing else.
So I know she’ll understand when I admit that I’m still sometimes very lonely . . .