I find myself in a strange place with people lately. Not people in general, but specific people. I have an old friend, someone I've known and loved for well over two decades, one of my very few (I can count 'em on one hand, perhaps even minus a thumb and two fingers) long-time intimates. Our lifestyles are in such screaming and seemingly incompatible contrast that I know our having a relationship at all, let alone a hearty friendship, wouldn't make sense to a great many onlookers at either end, but . . . well, but. There it is. And while there are some areas of our lives that we can't fully share because of some crucial differences, there's still a deep love there, and we manage to stay out of turbulent waters for the most part.
At least I think there's still a deep love there. I love her and still sprinkle that fact around in my communications. In the past few months I have noticed some small but significant omissions of accustomed affection. I wouldn't think twice about their absence in other situations, but here and over time it seems like a big bad sign. I know the change means . . . something. But is it about me? Is it more about where she's at generally in her life? Things are friendly still, and newsy, if less frequent. But we've always gone through wax and wane periods. This time something's changed. There's a certain coldness. Maybe that's too harsh a word. There's a slight chill in the air. Or anyway, I'm shivering. I don't like to break out the microscope, but sometimes there's just that nagging kind of damnable feeling that something is amiss. I don't generally hesitate to speak up and inquire about a problem with somebody I love. But my guts tell me to hold off this time. Watch. Wait. Listen. Keep loving; don't withdraw. But I am more and more often questioning the language I use. I never thought of it much before, when it flowed freely both ways. I don't keep a tally sheet. I don't worry about balance, until things are apparently way out of balance. I guess I am feeling defensive. I hate feeling like I'm questioning myself at every turn. I don't believe in tit-for-tat, but am I foolish to not be more protective of myself? Anyway, this is all navel-gazing, I suppose. There's something in all of this that I find somewhat terrifying. Why? I guess because I'm talking about a core person. There are other reasons, but they're likewise core issues.
Maybe I'm just being silly. People change. So what? Right? Yeah, right.
There's someone else in my life that I have had a strange experience with recently, a quick irrational thing, a very hostile outburst that I can honestly say had zero to do with me. It was small, in a sense, a brief if vociferous public explosion of false accusation and mad invention. I'm not unfamiliar with those—in fact, I flatter myself that I'm somewhat seasoned in my ability to deal with potentially humiliating scenes; the Ancestor, in her sad spoutings of scalding senility blows up bigger than that at me on an awfully regular basis, sometimes now even in the company of others, but our mutual love eventually conquers and we move on beyond 80something brain cramps. But this other stupid scene left me with a strong and almost disproportionate sense that I need to back off from this someone and not take on responsibility to make things better. Twice since then I've been near this person and have felt that it would be a mistake for both of us for me to do anything but let it ride. That seems weird. I prefer resolution. Is this true intuition or something else? I feel like I'm not doing my part, but who am I to argue with the warnings of better judgment? Maybe it's because someone else needs a chance to claim some responsibility. Maybe I'm just not in an emotionally healthy enough place right now to handle some kind of additional wacko confrontation. Or maybe I'm just peopled out and need to avoid another migraine.
So. It's odd to feel relationships shifting, and not in a comfortable way. I wonder what's ahead. I wonder who's ahead. I'm trying to learn more about what it means to listen to the right voice.
I've talked a lot about withdrawals, and so I really mustn't neglect to report some lovely deposits I could be part of today. Becca, Moiety, & Co. are here for some holiday time, so this afternoon we packed up most of the local extended family, plus some neighbor friends with kids, and we all went together to the MOA to see the new exhibit there, Beholding Salvation: Images of Christ. We had seven kidlets with us, five of the too-big-to-carry and highly exploratory variety, one of the in-a-wheelchair-and-ready-to-roll variety, and one of the stay-behind-to-ride-on-Dada's-shoulders variety. Rob was the self-appointed babysitter and tour guide, and I went along to help and to play, as did Rob's youngest brother. We had a smashing time going through the exhibit at our own pace (top speed), stopping and chatting about what interested young minds about Jesus, and then hurrying on. We worked our way through the entire museum, made up art games, then played in the chilly courtyard, made wishes with pocket pennies in the MOA pocket penny pool, pulled little wading boys out of the water, explored the HFAC, ran screaming from dragons in the basement, race-walked, spooked each other out with talk of garbage monsters and "denisons," played with the magic mirrors in the theater green room, plunked on a piano, left our confessions in chalk on a great green chalkboard, played elevator games, held hands, and ate gummi worms. It is such fun to see Rob in action with kids. And it was fun to be part of the play time. Everyone was happy and tired afterward. That's what I call a pleasant investment.
Deposit number two was of a one-to-one nature. One of my young women, Kim the soccer player cum photographer, turned sixteen today. She is one of the rare few who does not want to date and does not want to think about boys. She is very much a wonderful girl. I love that kid. Last night I made her a funky little crocheted pouch and today I filled it with sixteen clear stones and wrote her a long letter. Anybody who is familiar with Ether chapters 1-6 will recall a beautiful story about stones and light and faith and revelation and safe travel. Maybe you can guess how I might have related this to the life of a girl newly sixteen who has been trying to live well despite pressures and depressions and all sorts of the usual curve balls. Anyhow, it was great to stop by her house this evening and hug her guts out and make another little deposit.
Even just sitting and talking about nothing more deep than knitting with my sister-in-law after dinner, and teaching my gran-in-law a new method for binding off stitches—these were generous deposits. Making delicious food to share—another. Kissing an adorable little niece—another. Hugs, thanks, prayers, a laugh or two—more. So, whew. Even after a few alarming transactions recently, it's apparent my account is still in the black, and more importantly, I can keep it so. What a relief.