Monday, August 10, 2009
Long Lost Friends
So I've got this best friend. His name is Jim. Jim and I met at Xavier University. I was a freshman, he was a sophomore. We connected immediately as I sat outside my freshman dorm, smoking a cig and reading a well-read copy of The Handmaid's Tale. He stopped because he saw what I was reading and was also a fan of Margaret Atwood and because we had the same lighter. It was a green marbled plastic thing- nothing fancy. We started hanging out in the same social circles, he got me into show choir and the theatre scene. We were chorus members together in my first college musical- South Pacific. The friendship was strong and intense. At the time, Jim was "straight." I knew better. It was pretty dang obvious- to me, anyway. He had zero interest in any girls at XU. He talked constantly about being head over heels with a girl back home in Nashville... a girl who was always completely unattainable for various reasons. It wasn't behaviors or mannerisms... I could crack jokes about his love of musical theatre... but I just knew. Even if he didn't. I won't get into all the gory details. But we had a major falling out. The short version is that he started coming to terms with being gay and his coming out was really traumatic for him. For a lot of reasons. And he felt like he couldn't turn to his friends. However, after a year of no communication, we happened into circumstances that made it safe to reconnect. And we did. And the friendship has been strong ever since. We've been friends 16 years now. He saw me through my first marriage and divorce. He stood by me when I married Jeff. He rushed to my side when I miscarried our first pregnancy. I was honest with him on my opinions of his long term boyfriend who wasn't good for him in so many ways. It took him many years to finally hear me- but he finally did. I've encouraged him to pursue his talents and dreams. We don't stay in regular touch. Our lives are so vastly different now. His talents take him to NYC and that is truly where he needs to be. If he lived here... he'd be part of my daily life and so involved with my kids. I mourn that we don't have that. But I understand why. He has great things to give as a writer. We try to get together but his schedule, my family, my schedule, lack of funds... there are always excuses and reasons. We try to stay in routine communication but, aside from Facebook, that has also proven to be a challenge. This past weekend, we both happened to be at the same place at the same time. I got to have breakfast with Jim and his partner, Michael. It was my first time meeting Michael. I can't say enough wonderful things about him. I've been eager for Jim to find someone who deserves him. Michael is a wonderful balance for Jim... I hate to be cliché but they truly complete each other. I got to spend 2 hours with my best friend. He got to play with my kids and see my mom again. We laughed and talked. He jumped around on furniture in the hotel lobby- doing his best impression of a gorilla in order to completely delight my son. I am blessed to have many special friends in my life. I can't list everyone for fear of hurting feelings by forgetting someone. But the people who are special to me know who they are and know why I love them so dearly. I had reached a point with Jim where I was afraid that all was lost. That the friendship was finally fading away. That our vastly different lives had finally reached a point where the circles could no longer intersect. But sitting at the breakfast table, laughing in the lobby, hugging... I love a friendship that is as comfortable as my favorite pair of pajama pants. That no matter how long it has been since I wore them, they are immediately comfortable and comforting and relaxing and cozy. I think that Jim and I will make stronger efforts at this point to stay connected. I hope that's the case. I have to make bigger efforts, too. It's hard- but all relationships take work. And I wish I could include a picture from our get together. But I forgot my camera and my good camera phone. And he had left his camera in the hotel room and didn't even realize it until we'd left. I guess we were all so invested in just being together that finding ways to capture some of those moments fell to the wayside. So here's a toast to friendship. And to refinding old friends. And to proving that connections can run deeper than distance or time.