It’s Not Worth It

They sat across from each other in the booth – I brought the coffee over and sat next to her.  I was a little stunned – I did not expect him to be there.  She didn’t say that he’d be there; I expected it to be just us.  I don’t know how I looked to them – I didn’t have the strength to feign gladness, and used what little energy I had to keep my mouth shut.  She rubbed my shoulder, and it felt good – but it didn’t light me up like it usually did.  I had a “good angry” going on, and I wasn’t about to let it go.

For the next hour they talked as if I wasn’t there.  I managed to chat a bit about an introvert/extrovert question from work that day:  “You have a birthday coming up, and you have an unlimited amount of funds.  How would you like to celebrate it and how many people would you like to be there with you?”

I answered, “Out to dinner with one friend” – which may sound sad to all you extroverts out there, but is in fact one of the more pleasurable things in this introvert’s life.  He thought it was a sad answer – there was genuine pity in his heart.  I didn’t expect either one of them to get it – by this time I really only had two clear thoughts:  1) why the fuck is he here? and 2) why the fuck am I here?  I don’t know why I didn’t get up and walk away.

The arrangement was so uneven that it wasn’t worth being friends.  I listened to her way more than she listened to me.  And it wasn’t just the time – it was the content, too.  I don’t know if she’s a superficial person, but there were definite limits to what could and could not be discussed.  When I was hurting, I wasn’t in a position to talk to her about it.  That isn’t who she is.  And that made my hurt that much worse.

From her point of view, people should keep their feelings to themselves.  Public displays of affection are verboten.  It explains why I didn’t have any “deep” emotional conversations with her – she may have been feeling lots of things, but they were private matters.  You might argue that our friendship lacked the trust it needed to share those kinds of things – and you’d be right.

Marc Maron says something like “you don’t really know whether you’re in a relationship until someone gets hurt.”  Because it’s exactly those moments when you realize that the relationship you have with someone is not a casual thing.  We were friends – emphasis on the lowercase “f.”  Now I’m looking for someone who isn’t afraid, not just of my feelings, but even more importantly, of showing and sharing theirs with me.

Letting Go …

“Just thought I’d drop you a quick note to see how you’re doing.  I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to visit last week.  I was pretty whipped – and that other stuff seemed pretty complicated.

“Drop me a note, let me know how things are going:  I hope you’re doing well.

“Much love always …”  But was it more than I should have said?

I do miss her.  If she’s pulling away, it’s okay.  I don’t begrudge her that.  I had the perfect moment – even if it wasn’t what I thought I wanted.  I was able to tell her, with every bit of honesty I’ve ever known, that I really did want her to be happy.  I still do.

In that moment, on the edge of my worst fears and dread, when I was again afraid of that sting of rejection, the judgment that giggles at a poor sap playing way out of his league, I let go.  She didn’t laugh.  And I felt – wonderful.  I felt like she knew how crazy I was about her, and even though she didn’t feel that way about me, she respected my feelings, cared about them, cared about me.

And this time, it wasn’t that god-awful neediness that sucks the oxygen out of the room.  It was a moment of absolute calm, absolute bliss – a realization that I could be genuinely happy for her, and still know that I was going to be okay.

I hadn’t taken a chance on getting close to anyone for, oh, I don’t know, fifteen plus years.  When I opened up the office door that Saturday morning so long ago, I saw something in her eyes – something that said to me that this was someone I wanted to get to know, that I wanted to try again.

Looking back, what I saw was a genuinely kind, decent and loving heart.  She is smart, funny, honest.  She makes me want to be a better person.  Her love and friendship have saved me from myself.  She’s stuck up for me more than once, and it always amazes me when she does that.  Her love and friendship are absolutely fierce.  I am so lucky to have met her, to know her.

So if we’re at that point where I need to get out of the way, well, yes, it does sadden me a bit.  But only a little.  I want so bad for her to be happy, then okay:  I’m out of the way.  If I know her, I feel confident that she has already made her decision – she believes it’s best for both of us to give thanks for the love and joy we both know so well, and for both of us to get on with the happy lives that await us.

Thank you.  I’ll miss you.  Much love always …