Epitaph for Relationships that Once were

Epitaph for Relationships that Once were

I was at a baby shower today–a truly lovely one–full of serene, joyful women celebrating the imminent coming of a new life.  The women were lovely (lovely in the way Australians use the word:  a sweet, pretty, pleasant person); women who exuded a wholeness, a self-containment and a comfortableness with those around them and the world in general, which makes them a pleasure to be with.  There was a contretemps at one point which reminded me of all the woman-to-woman relationships I’ve had (and there have been many), all of them intense, some of them fraught with difficulty or fragility or an inherent opposition or oppositiveness which would inevitably dead-end the relationship before either of us were ready to admit it, breathless with arguments to keep it going, long after the death-knell had sounded.  I have very few women friends left.  But in the same way that I am grateful for them, I am grateful for those I once knew, probably too well when I think about it now.  I don’t know about men but women share things that God would probably blush to share.  Familiarity does not breed contempt, but it does cross a line which alters boundaries, transforms them sometimes into barbed wire fencing, which, once put up, cannot be taken down without the taking of blood.  The completely graceless, inappropriate and untoward event at the baby shower (which only lasted five minutes, no more) reminded me of five women of recent memory who so imposed on what I like to call “my good nature” but which was probably my age-old policy of accommodation of all sorts “no matter how much their values differed from my own” that, in the end (and it always took two to five years; I was a slow learner), I cut them them off cursorily, without comment, without explanation.  One, I remember, so desperately wanted to befriend me that she virtually stalked me for nearly two years, and then at a time of my life when I most needed wisdom, advice and friendship, intoned in a voice raspy from her sucking on a joint:  “I hope you find someone to help you through this because it won’t be me.”  Another whom I had financially and emotionally sponsored through a difficult time in her life (for a full three years:  I am not an emotional dilettante), cut me off (twist of fate) at that very same time as the other did; her cut hurt more than anything because I’d taken to her like a mother…which was probably my first mistake.  People do want to be mothered; they just don’t want to be mothered.  Yet another was full of rectitude in public but became a manipulative terrorist in private.  The other two had agendas related to my expertise in certain areas, and in the end, I got tired, simply tired, of giving out when all I really wanted to do, in the end, was pull in and pull back.  Ultimately, it taught me to just stay free from the get-go rather than plunge and explore and trust and ‘go with the flow’.  As it turns out, the ‘flow’ is often water rapidly circling down a drain into an anonymous sewer.  I understand Emily Dickinson who became so recalcitrant, she would only speak to people from behind a screen.  After all, isn’t that what I–what we all–do now:  using computer/ipod screens to communicate because  face-to-face communication has become too torrid, too scary, too bloody?  Shirley MacLaine just wrote a book titled “I’m Over all That”…and, really, I must say to those five or six women that I feel the same way:  I’m Over all That…so don’t even bother.

One more thing (and really the most important thing):  I had prepared a shoebox for new baby.  I’d done it once before for another baby shower but never delivered it.  It contained:  a sprig of rosemary (for protection); salt (for wealth and security); pepper (because life has its share of woe); baby keys (because that’s the best teething gift and also symbolizes baby holding the keys to the Kingdom); a time capsule (to keep all of baby’s best memories in); a rosary (for patience and respect for the good); a teeny mini-Bible (always good to keep at hand); a tiny box to put hurts in (God Knows, there are hurts in life!); a little notebook of Gratitude; a stone and a baggy of earth (to remind us to respect the elements); and a wand (when faced with the impassable/impossible, one wants a wand).    I never delivered that one either.

 

 

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