I spoke to a friend of mine today who, over the past half year or so, has become one of my most cherished friends. We were discussing our respective divorces and he remarked that the most difficult and sad part of the whole experience is to look at where they are now and wonder how in the heck they got there. They were best friends and now they can't maintain civility for an entire phone conversation. I agreed that I, too, am often still (after nearly a year) completely flabbergasted by the state of my relationship with my almost-ex-husband because, were it not for the occasional animosity, we could best be characterized as strangers. After 13 years and two children together. That is bizarre.
After I hung up, I thought about my relationship with my friend and realized that it is equally bizarre. Basically acquaintances (who occasionally slept together) in college. No contact for nearly two decades. Seemingly out-of-the-blue re-connection that quickly became intimate and powerful and true. Kinda weird how that all went down. The feeling, when I look at where we are now versus where we were, is similarly surreal but it is the exact opposite of sad or difficult.
So, maybe that is simply the nature of things. Equal parts tragedy and serendipity - maybe what seems surreal and random is simply the natural progression of things.
We spend our youths, if we have a decent upbringing, being sheltered from this. As my daughter struggles with all of those insanely difficult elementary school struggles, and the impending divorce of her parents, my most constant message to her is that I will always ALWAYS love her no matter what. I will always be here for her. We are always a team. I will never ever let her down. That's not entirely true, though, is it? The truth is that I will love her and be here for as long as is humanly possible but there will be a time when I will be gone and everything will be very different. And we recognize that that is simply the way it works- the circle of life and whatnot. Lions and hyenas.
And when we make those wedding vows that we will love, honor and cherish until death do us part...who are we kidding? There's a 50% chance that isn't true. But we say it and (at the time) we MEAN it and we absolutely believe it...til we don't anymore.
And we protect our kids from the sad truth that those safe, sturdy relationships they count upon for balance can, pretty quickly and without warning, go up in smoke. And rightly so because that is some terrifying shit. No one wants the information that they can't count on the people they count on most.
But maybe the nature of things dictates that, although it is true, it doesn't, necessarily, have to be terrifying. It can be a comfort. Maybe we can count on a natural balance that dictates that the old cliche "When one door closes, another one opens" might actually be true. I can tell you that this relationship wouldn't have become what it became had my marriage not disintegrated. There would simply not have been space for it to evolve. SO, while I will be officially without a husband in just a few weeks and that is sad, I have a new-found friend who celebrates my victories and counsels me through the crap and makes me laugh. And I do the same for him (I hope.) And that's a gift.
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
So says Robert Frost (and, subsequently, Ponyboy Curtis) and it does seem to be true. But, of course, the flip side would be the dawn of the following day and new flowering plants and children rescued from a blazing one-room schoolhouse.
Losing a relationship you believed in and counted on makes the universe feel random and cruel and chaotic. But maybe there is more order than we realize. Perhaps it isn't chaos at all - perhaps it is delicate, meticulous balance. We accept that, in nature, something must die and fertilize the ground in order for something new to grow. That's a pretty specific plan. So...I dunno. Maybe, if we could step far enough away and look down on all of this as a series of lines or numbers or a spectrum of colors, we would see specific patterns emerging. I think I might start following flocks of pigeons and scribbling theorems on the windows. My mind might be just. that. beautiful.
Or maybe not. I just now thought of all this stuff since the end of our phone call 3 hours ago and, in that short time, I also dyed my hair. This could all just be fumes.
Stay Gold, Ponyboy.
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