Divorce can be a veritable minefield. I’m not the only one who knows this fact multiple times – but for those fortunate enough to find a lifetime love, nurture it and make it work – the ominous specter of divorce hangs heavy in the air long after the judge taps his or her gavel and “pronounces you non-husband and non-wife”.
Another of life’s potential tragedies is the ending of a friendship. Even those of us who have never experienced divorce have experienced a friendship gone sour.
On reflection, I have had four such friendships. Two are from long ago. One was resurrected by Bob and I after our 30-year High School reunion. The cause of our breakup is too personal to discuss here – and besides, once we sorted things out it became “water under the proverbial bridge”.
One of the other four was recent – and it’s this one I want to focus on – because Lana and I worked things out before a misunderstanding became a disaster. Lana and I have been friends for six months and our friendship evolved out of a mutual friendship we had – one of my other two “friendship tragedies”. She and another good and dear friend – Jeannuine – had counselled me through that tragedy – by letting me talk about it . . . while knowing exactly when to say to me something like “Okay, enough talking about that. Shut up and change the subject.” Needless to say, those circumstances are awkward ones to develop a friendship under. However, we kept her role as an adviser and her role as a friend separate – and as the role of an adviser became less necessary, our friendship grew.
How do friendships become strained during the era of multiple and instant communication ?
The answer – very easily.
Both of us are very demonstrative with our affection. Hugs are an expectation when demonstratively affectionate people see each other. For whatever reason – we were both at a party . . . one where I arrived early and Lana arrived late. We waved at each other from across the room and she came over and we exchanged “hellos”. Having been there for an hour and a half already, I left soon after with my sweetness, Kristin – without taking the time to say goodbye to Lana.
Shortly afterwards, I received a text from her. She complained that I had left without saying goodbye. The way she phrased it in the text appeared to be one of those “lol” remarks. I responded in a casual way – something with the explanation “Kristin and I went over to her home.” Suddenly, Lana’s texts became increasingly clear that she was angry with me and brought the sincerity of our friendship into question. All I knew was that we needed to talk about this face to face – where I would more fully understand what her concerns were.
Texts lack two very important dimensions – the tone of the other person’s voice . . . and their body language. If the text-versation had been face to face – I “would have got it” very quickly.
The texts went back and forth. My “Let’s talk it over” sounded like a brushoff to Lana. Her complaints became more and more personal and I felt the pain of her ripping the scab off an open would which she and Jeannuine had worked so hard to help me heal.
Two thoughts went through my mind. One was that perhaps it was time to let our friendship run its’ course. Perhaps Lana had come into my life to a very very important yet singular purpose. She had helped keep me whole during the most traumatic time in my life.
The second thought prevailed, fortunately. That thought was a series of recollections of all the wonderful conversations which Lana and I had enjoyed during these six months – including a 30 or 40 text conversation which occured before we had even met. In that conversation, Lana had used the most beautiful prose imaginable to talk about how looking up into the great expanse of night sky gave her a sense of comfort. That was the first indication of Lara being an incurable optimist. She certainly is – and I knew I would work hard to resolve the problem. I knew she would too. She is also wise beyond her years. This is why I call her “guru”. She calls me “wizard” – and although I think that is an overestimation of whatever skill set qualifies one to be called “wizard”, I appreciate the moniker very much.
Briefly, my other two lost friendships were the ones which set the table for where I am now emotionally – not that those individuals intent was to teach me that my most recent failed marriage – to Dana – was over, or that I was capable of falling in love again . . . in a way which I had never fallen in love before.
So, my message of hope is that while you may try and fail at staying friends with some of the people you meet along the road of life . . . I believe that Kristin and Jeannuine and Lana and Bob and the other Bob and the other Bob and many, many other exceptional people who make my life whole . . . do just that.
They make my life whole – and I love them all for it !
Merry Christmas, Happy Chunakkah, A Blessed Solstice . . . . and there’s Festivus for the rest of us !
Next : “Laura Bush’s Diary” returns ?