Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thinner than water.

I lost a friend the other day.  And by “lost” I don’t mean misplaced.  There is no need to plaster posters all over telephone poles or create milk cartons with her picture on the side.  I know exactly where she is.  So she isn't "lost" exactly.  It’s just that we’re not friends anymore.  

This doesn’t happen to me often.  My good friends have been my good friends for many years.  So it’s weird to have lost a good friend.  It makes me sad.    It makes me angry.  But mostly it makes me wonder about the nature of friendships. 

I will admit, I am not an easy friend.  I’m demanding.  I put a lot into my friendships and expect a fair amount in return.  As time goes by, I understand that most people do not approach friendships in this way and that some might think I’m a pain in the ass.  But as time goes by, I have also grown more flexible, more accommodating, more accepting.  People get busy.  We have husbands, jobs, children, parents, dogs – all of whom take our time and energy and attention.  But I have found a fair number of extraordinary people who are extraordinary friends.  And I consider myself incredibly lucky.  So losing a friend is, to me, a pretty big deal. 

I think back now, and I’m trying to figure out the moment this happened.   I’m pretty sure, if I asked my friend, she’d say the rift occurred several months ago on a particular day because of a particular incident.  And I’m pretty sure I disagree.  I’m pretty sure that if you asked me, I’d say it happened months and maybe years before the inciting incident.  Its possible that the real connective tissue of our relationship – the warp that held the weft together – began to unravel long before the moment the axe fell.   I’m pretty sure that we began drifting apart years ago and that this moment, this misunderstanding, was the nail in the coffin of a body that was long diseased.

I love my friends.  I’m loyal.  I look past tiny slights and bumps in the road most people would trip over.  These are my friends, after all, and if they are flawed then I love them all the more.   But I’m not stupid.  And at a certain point I do understand that loyalty has its limits – that people grow apart and that the circumstances of marriage and children and proximity all conspire to make true and deep friendships near impossible at times. I recognize that we are all always moving and not always in the same direction.  I acknowledge that life throws curveballs at us, time and time again, and that the tiniest shift in response can sending us hurling down a path divergent from those around us.  People change.  Friends grow apart.  Shit, as they say, happens. 

But this was different.  There was a moment in this particular schism where I suppose I could have made it all okay.  I could have gone, on bended knee, with deep apology.  I could have sent flowers, left messages, begged forgiveness.  But what I realized, what made me most sad, is that all of that would have gotten us back on track.  But “on track” was not particularly anywhere at all.  The train had derailed long ago and neither of us had the balls to admit it.  We had grown apart, and my breach – my mistake – my indiscretion – was the excuse she needed to get out.  It turns out that our friendship is finally, exactly, where it belongs.  She can shroud herself in defiant indignance – she was wronged and is justified in her icy silence.  And I can be sad that I hurt my friend’s feelings but angry that her reaction was so dramatic. 

That’s ok.  Actually, I understand.  But it still bums me out.  It still makes me sad.  And it still makes me miss my friend and that bond we had however long ago.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Sig Other has an iPad.  He got it on Day 3 of release.  He would have had it Day 1 had I not been a Bad Wife.   Bad Wife did not cancel her Saturday activities in order to stay home and wait for the UPS man to come and deliver the iPad on the day of release.  Instead, Bad Wife ran errands - went to the nursery so there would be plants in the yard, went to the grocery store so there would be food in the house.  Bad Wife didn't realize that by attending to such mundane tasks she was, in fact, delaying the deeply satisfying and highly anticipated arrival of the iPad.  And so, Bad Wife was shunned for nearly 48 hours - the amount of time it took for the weekend to pass and for the UPS man to show up at the door in his innocent brown shirt and slacks, looking for the signature he needed in order to deliver the Baby Jesus - I mean, um, er, the new iPad to Sig Other.

Sig Other loves his iPad.  He loves it so much, in fact, that I fear he may have forgotten that he also, sort of,   loves his wife.  Or at least he used to.  His wife, unfortunately, does not come with a program that allows him to play air traffic controller until the wee hours.  His wife does not have an app that invites him to play piano with random strangers all over the world.  His wife does not act as computer, television, movie theater, library, house remote, video game arcade and best friend all at the same time.  His wife, alas, is but flesh and bone.

If I had an iPad, perhaps I would know how to reach Steve Jobs.  And perhaps if I could reach Steve Jobs, I would tell him that his device is poorly named.  Not because the name immediately brings to mind feminine hygiene products for those of us raised with Beavis & Butthead (uh, huh huh - you said "pad").  But because in fact the iPad is more than just a super computer.  It is more than just an entertainment center.  It is, truly, the number one way to avoid human interaction.  And so I hereby bestow upon the iPad its new and proper name, the "ignoreyourwifePad" or more simply, the "iDivorce" - one stop shopping for those interested in obliterating whatever ties that bind.  And so if you see Steve Jobs, please give a message from me - wish him a happy life and tell him I hope that he sleeps well at night while the rest of us drift off to the irritating sound of iPlanes landing on an iRunway.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Who's That Girl?

Post 101 finds me reflective.  At a party last night, a guy I don't know heard my name and asked me if I was "that writer."  And I took a beat.  After a moment, I realized he was asking either about the dead, African-American male novelist who shared my name or the East Coast comedienne whose life is oddly similar to mine.  She's not me for many reasons - not the least of which including the facts that she is shorter, younger, and from Boston.  She is married to a rabbi and has young children.  But she, my East Coast namesake, actually makes a living as a writer.  She has a website and has published books.  She's a guest columnist for various publications and is known for her wit and wordsmithery.  I have no such following and squeeze in a blog post or two between hectic days and restless job anxiety.  

I thought about what it would be like if I could answer, "YES!"   And then I fantasized for a split second about the conversations that could have followed.  In one version, the stranger compliments me and quotes a life-changing passage from one of my books.  In another, he berates me for sloppy syntax or half-baked declarations.  But neither of those moments were going to come to pass.  And so, after taking a beat I answered, “no, that’s someone else.”  But I really wanted it to be me.  I really wanted to be the writer that matched my name and not the girl at the party that people know because of the desk she sits behind...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My 100th Post!

(I did not set out this evening to compose my one hundredth post.  I had no idea, in fact, that I reached such a number.  But once I logged in and realized, it seemed fitting that I should note the milestone.  And so consider it noted.  And consider I would have titled this post: THE EX-WIFE KIBBUTZ or THE COMPOUND or some such thing).

Child Two was in the pool when I got home from work.  He was swimming with his cousin and after two waterlogged hours, both children were pruney and shivering and thrilled with the freedom that only spring break can bring.  Ex-Wife was their escort.  Sig Other is out of town and I was working late.  But the pool was heated and the day was toasty and so I’d texted Ex-Wife and encouraged her to bring the kids if they wanted to swim.  The dogs, Alpha and Beta, were thrilled to have the youthful company.  And I loved walking into a full house at 8:30 on a Wednesday night. 

This is not a nightly occurrence but neither is it highly unusual in our home.  It might seem strange to some – the idea that Ex-Wife would be hanging out with the kids at our house with neither Sig Other nor me present.  But it isn’t strange to me at all.  In fact, to me, it’s as normal as butter on white toast.  And in fact, I encourage it.  I liked coming home to Ex-Wife and the kids. 

Its here that I should probably confess that I am a firm believer in The Compound.  I support the notion that it takes a village.  I would love nothing more than to live in close proximity to my nearest and dearest on a commune or kibbutz (albeit a deluxe one with fancy sheets and a high end kitchen).  In my Fantasy Compound, there are individual homes with private living spaces and complete seclusion facing the back of the property.  The homes are laid in a circle with the front doors facing toward the middle where there is a large communal space featuring a spectacular industrial kitchen, an open living room with a huge fireplace and a long, spacious dining table.  Most nights in the fantasy compound would be spent in the private space.  But once or twice a week, residents of the commune would come together for meals and games and hanging out.  Children would roam free from house to house on the compound and there would always be someone to talk to or play with.  Is that so wrong?  

I do acknowledge that the compound is a fantasy.  And I acknowledge that group life is not always so easy.  Issues as mundane as “what’s for dinner” become magnified in a large group.  And the complications of divorce make the compound even less ideal.  But still the fantasy persists.

There are moments, though few and far between, when fantasy has intersected with reality:  a summer not so many years ago when several families met in Ojai, or this past Christmas with four families in Palm Springs.  And in these moments the greatest joy has been sitting back by a pool or at a dinner table watching a gaggle of kids, aged six to sixteen, laughing and playing and running together.  We adults sit back, eat too much, drink too much and try to capture the magic of the moment. 

Tonight, when I walked into a house filled with children and laughter, I had a a different kind of moment.  Tonight, for just a few minutes, I was in an alternate version of the fantasy compound – but this version was real.  Ex-Wife and I formed our own strange village and in it there are laughing children and unconventional situations.  And everyone is happy.  At least in this moment. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Secret Society

There is a secret society that meets under cover of darkness.  Not the darkness of lively jazz clubs and busy city streets, but the darkness of 3am.  There is nothing romantic about 3am.  3am could, I suppose, be considered the “wee small hours” which always sounded so romantic.  But the truth is that the romance of the wee small hours is lost if you come to them from the other side.  3am is sexy if you get there because you’ve been up since daylight and are heading to the end of the day.  3am is sexy if it arrives as a surprise after dinner and a long romantic night out or at the tail end of a creative jag.  3am is NOT sexy if it comes after a fitful few hours of sleep and is accompanied by restless anxiety and an eerily still house.  

The truth is, normally 3am would not be a problem for me.  Normally, I would just roll over and burrow into Sig Other and drift back off to sleep.  But Sig Other is out of town and Alpha Dog is too deep in her happy slumber to disturb for a quick snuggle.  And Beta Dog…  Beta Dog is ignoring me. 

This is a highly unusual occurrence.  Generally speaking, I have always found comfort in the unconditional love of dogs – mine being no exception.  It’s true that Beta Dog is unique in that his is a hard love.  He is not like other dogs.  He does not love no matter what. He is true to his breed and the love of a Weim is hard won and entirely singular.  Weims do not bond with just anyone.  They are one man (or one woman) dogs.  And I worked hard to earn the love of Beta Dog.   But once earned, I felt sure that love was a constant and that Beta Dog would remain steadfast and true in his rangy devotion.  Alas, I have come to discover that Beta Dog’s emotions run hot and cold.  And tonite, they are cold. 

Maybe it’s that Sig Other is out of town and Beta Dog feels abandoned.  Maybe its that his leg hurts – he’s been limping on and off for weeks now.  Maybe he’s just comfy on his perch and doesn’t want to move.  Or maybe it’s just that he doesn’t love me anymore.  Whatever the reason, Beta Dog is refusing to come to bed and I am thusly left to confront 3am alone – no man or beast to cuddle up to lest I force beast, against his stubborn four-legged will, to the bedroom.

And so I turn to my good friend, Apple.  Apple is always loyal, always available and always happy to spend time with me (provided I have thought to plug her in and keep her charged).  And Apple connects me to a whole world of people who are awake on the wrong side of the wee hours.  Apple and I check email, go to twitter and cruise quickly through Facebook.  And there we see evidence – time-stamped evidence of anxiety-ridden souls who are up in the middle of the dark, dark hours, reaching out to try to connect with other equally anxious, restless souls.  Bless you, internet.  And goodnite.