…but i will spend my life trying. i promise.
i lost a friend last week. i found out the day after that he was gone. i found out a week after how he went. the days in between were an emotional conglomerate of questions, doubts, tears, emptiness, sadness, and self-pity. i question over and over again what could have happened—what his last moments were like. only a few years older than me—all i could think was it could have been any of us—it could have been me.
five years ago, i can remember, the happiest time of my single life. i was living the life of a make-shift sorority sister in a club comprised of friends and neighbors, only doors between us. we played and partook in all the usual girl-bonding activities, and like any good sorority, we had our brother fraternity to entertain us. he was one of them—he was my first friend when i moved back in. he always had a girl, always proud to talk about her, and he was my first friend of my adult life…the rest followed suit.
i remember when he got engaged—how our morning commute with the loud crowd turned into Turkish lessons and diamond school. i learned everything i know about engagement rings from him. i remember how he bragged about her. she made him so happy. i remember being so happy for him.
the years passed…the summers grew shorter, and we all grew apart…grew up. some got married, started families, and, over time, all moved away—Facebook the only thing that was holding us together. he finally married his girl, bought a house, had a beautiful baby girl. for all any of us could see, we were all happy. weren’t we?
So young, just starting his new life. was he sick? was it a freak accident? there was so much i didn’t know.
the group of us from back then were brought back together over text and email and in this virtual space, the distance that had grown over the last few years became as clear as a brick wall standing between us. regrets amassed, longing for missed opportunities to reconcile differences, i finally found out through a text message days later. it was suicide.
not really sure how i feel right now, but i have a million unanswered questions. i’m sure i’ll have much more to write…eventually. for now, all i can think about is how i had no idea. none of us did. we were once so close, and in just a few year we grew so far apart that a cry for help from a friend could not be heard. did he ask for help? did nobody hear? could this have been stopped? what of his wife and little girl?
how can we make sure this never happens again…
…And suddenly I believe that every “I love you” I said before must have been a lie…
I’ve been laboring over this feeling for days now, maybe weeks, trying to make sense out of why and how it could be that after my 30 years (13 dating years—-whatever, I was a later bloomer), I could feel like I may have mistaken the “feel-goods” for love. It forced me to retrace the steps, in daylight and in nightmares (literally and unfortunately) of relationships past…the “i love you“‘s of yesterday.
So, because I have recently been haunted by my Seven Evil Exes, I thought maybe manifesting these ghosts might help me be rid of them.
[SIDEBAR: I don’t really have a seven evil exes thing happening here, because they’re not ALL evil, but there are seven of them…which I found kind of amusing. Also, if you’re missing the Scott Pilgrim references here, you HAVE to rent the movie. HAVE to. Not seeing this movie is a clear sign of your lack of awesomeness. yes. I am judging you.]
1-My first love taught me that love can hurt…a lot. Everyone remembers their first, but for me, there are reminders of this relationship that are ingrained in my psyche—pain I will never ever forget, and pain I have been unconsciously reliving since…but I’m working on this. I’ve learned, in my adult life, that forgiveness is therapeutic, and that letting go means gaining your freedom. (This relationship also introduced me to the unscathed theatrical artistry that is the original Star Wars Trilogy, and that said, that falling asleep watching Episode 1 is entirely forgivable).
2-Second—Numba 2 (he he)—taught me that friendship is key to a loving relationship. That it’s important to want/desire your partner, but the BEST relationships happen when you genuinely like the person you’re with—and this might be a “duh” moment for many of you, but it wasn’t for me then. When you WANT to do nerdy things together, when you can share ideas and learn from each other, you form the strongest bonds. This is probably why, even after we discovered we were romantic enemies, he and I are still very good friends. (This would also be the evil genius that taught me how to hack a computer and that baklava is Satan in cookie’s clothing).
3-Third, The Saint, taught me that perfect doesn’t mean perfect for you…and it’s ok to not want perfect. It’s even better than ok to recognize that you don’t want perfect and start searching for Mr.Imperfect. (This relationship also taught me that smart is sexy…because, although he was sexy to all but me, he was not smart, and while i was amused by his Dr.Suess-ish creativity with words, I honestly could not see past the word “angervate…” or “goffabid” for that matter. I know, I’m going to hell with the baklava).
4-Four, laughing is important…but so is trust. (oh, and that drugs and secrets will ruin a relationship).
5-Fifth, happiness doesn’t last forever, and neither do promises…or promise rings.
6-Sixth, love can transcend distance and that age is not a measurement of maturity.
7-and lucky number Seven got me where I am today—to beautiful sunny California, the home of #8. What did I learn? Some love isn’t the ride off into the sunset kind of love, even if it may seem like it is…It might just be the kind that gets you on the damn horse and points it due west, and tells you “sorry Miss, you’re taking this journey alone.” It’s an adventure, it’s a trip, it’s is meant to take you places…sometimes to right where you belong, but isn’t meant to last.
So…this all brings me to today, realizing after weeks of reflection that there is purpose in the journey and that love and our idea of love grows as we grow. The love I felt in the past was real…it was real to me then—real to the me i was then, but it is far different from what love feels like to me now. I realize that my real life Scott Pilgrim has a lot to contend with, and not in the form of super-evil comic book exes, but rather in the form of a slightly scared and worse-for-the-wear me. And for every burp he laughs at, and every Sunday he lets me sleep in, for entertaining my geekiness, and letting me sing to Lady Gaga in his car, for having an open mind, entertaining my quirks, for being right around the corner and never getting sick of my always-smothering-ugly mug, i love him…for real.
and I wish that I were Heaven,
with a billion eyes to look at you!” —Plato
i came across this post the other day about the words “i love you,” and how the words are often overused:
“As we all know, few things have grown more worn down and shoddy with overuse than the words “I love you.” When strung together, you could elicit everything from what a couple says before they slip a ring onto each other’s finger, all the way to a sorority girl’s proclamation to the roommate she’s “married” to on Facebook.”
the story goes on to offer a series of replacements, including this one, my fave:
“If you are 99 percent sure you’ve discovered the coworker who isn’t flushing on the second floor bathroom, and have further deduced that it’s the same one who has been bad-mouthing you to your boss, I will let you talk about this. I will listen to your corporate Sherlocking for at least 20 minutes, despite the fact that literally none of this story is engaging to an outsider. I will help you plan ways to catch him not flushing, and simultaneously use this information against him with the boss. We will be a team.”
i realized in my reading that i am entirely guilty of the same, so i came up with a few to add:
“Even though my least favorite thing about owning a cat was failing miserably at liter-box-management (which my mom will attest to), i will play dog-sitter to your precious when you have to go out of town. i will walk her according to your requirements and—ew—scoop according to the law’s requirements. i will do this with a smile, knowing that you are more at ease because you know that no one would take better care than me.”
“Sorting laundry by shades of brightness, towels, and delicates will become part of my routine. You will never hear me say ‘oops, those socks weren’t pink before?’ Socks will be folded, printed-side facing up, so that you can always find your favorite argyles and printed tee-shirts will be treated with the same care as cashmere sweaters.”
“Sharing means caring will be my mantra when we’re down to the last date in the box, swedish fish, double-chocolate-chip brownie, meatball, candy pumpkin, popchip or veggie dumpling. i will even give you half my bacon when your breakfast for dinner selection lacks an adequate breakfast meat side—and don’t think i didn’t realize that bacon was one third of your omelet filler. that’s love.”
“i will let you have the best pillow in the bed, knowing that means i won’t have the usual high quality beauty sleep i have come accustomed to. You probably need it more than i do, you’ve had a rough day. besides, since sharing a bed with you, my favorite pillow has become that squishy curve between your neck and shoulder.”
“Video games will become part of my weekend. i may actually look forward to them—if not because it means i get to sleep in when your alarm doesn’t wake me, then because it means i get to use my super spy skills to take stealth pictures of you daintily sitting cross-legged as you manipulate macho foul-mouthed freaks to torture zombies and monsters as you save the world.”
How do you say i love you?