friends

unrequited friendship

have you ever fallen for someone, a new acquaintance, a not-so new acquaintance, in a big way? in a head-over-heels, i adore this person from the bottom of my tiny heart i could sit at the feet of this person and gaze up adoringly and listen just listen to anything said and treasure any dew drops of attention paid my way–have you ever?

and not in that way, i mean not in the way of i want to marry you and have children with you and share a bed with you and grow old with you, no. i mean in the way of best friends. i want to be your best friend and share secrets and get into scrapes with you and tap all the wisdom of your experience and say oh so casually to people at a gathering: that person over there, the talented, beautiful, intelligent and competent one, that one, that person and i are friends. reaping vicarious fame and accomplishment. rubbing shirtsleeves with an admiring public. yes.

or no. because sometimes that’s just not how it turns out. sometimes the other just isn’t into you. not in that way. the other has other, better friends and no room for more. the other doesn’t admire you, perhaps, the adoration is not reciprocated.

and the desired intimate conversations over a glass of wine do not happen. the shared eyebrow-raising across a room–oh, oh can you believe what was just said, we know better than that, we share a smirk that needs no words. that connection that needs no explanation of why that is funny or why that is not–doesn’t precisely disconnect, no, it never actually hooks up at all. like a ditch dug for new fibre optic wires to link the neighbourhood to the world-wide-web but then money runs out and the cables are never laid and eventually the ditch fills with water in the rainy season and people start talking about hazards and pets and children and eventually no-one remembers the glorious potential that began the venture. nothing gained.

i am left with yearning for something that never happened. loss for something that, never begun, was more missed–like a bus or an opportunity–than lost. how can i mourn for something lost that i never had? it was that tantalizing glimpse of possibility. that dream friendship emerging from the mists of imagining. the smile, the first handshake. the voice and the shining intelligence and the taste in clothes and the political and intellectual priorities and…it didn’t pan out. i am left on the sidelines, an onlooker while others bask in the glory of being in the inner circle. occasional encounters are bittersweet. i wonder if it would be better to cut all ties? would i suffer less?

postcard story

today i received a postcard from a friend. in the mail. you know. the mail.

i don’t know how long it took to reach me. i wondered about that question for a moment, as i held the card in my hands, and it took me longer than i like to admit to remember that little old the thing, the postmark, that gets stamped on things that go through the mail, recording what day it was picked up by the post office from the mailbox (which may not be the same day it was put there, by the sender, particularly if it’s mailed from a rural location), and roughly where that mailbox was. or where the nearest post office to that mailbox was, or is, anyway.

so i ceased my bemused admiration of the picture of long grasses, a lake, and a sunset, and turned the postcard over. the postmark was no more than a smudge on the k.d. lang commemorative stamp. a big enough smudge to spoil the picture, but smudgy enough to be completely illegible. you wouldn’t actually know that something was supposed to be written there.

the post office appears to be determined to hang on to what little remains of its power over human communication, through the tool of mystification. i am barred from discovering, via crown corporation authority, the mailing date of this card.

but just so you know, my friend has been home from her holiday for more than a week.

so the postcard’s journey was…long.

this differs remarkably from the length of time it takes an email to reach me.

i’m just sayin’.

the message my dear friend chose to send me by this (what might appear to some to be grotesquely slow) method is this:

i wish you didn’t live so far away…”

this message, when i read it, made me laugh so loud that the dog woke from her nap and slunk out of the room with a most reproachful look on her face. at the same time, tears that were not laughter came into my eyes.

so close and yet so far away. the funny thing is, my friend lives very close to me; i could, if i wished, drive to her house right this minute and (assuming she is there) see her in less than 5 minutes. or maybe exactly 5 minutes. certainly a very few minutes. but at the time that she wrote the message on the postcard she was far away, in rural ontario. i was still where i always am, 5 minutes (or so) away from her house.

i wish you didn’t live so far away…”

…she writes, and i think, “i wish i didn’t, too.” and i don’t really know what i mean by that or what she meant by that, but it makes me feel sad.