Pic of the day: "I loved you" card. And I mean that in a good way.
Past tense of love
After a paper avalanche from my living room table, I sorted the various items to see whether I could throw away anything. There were a few brochures that were no longer relevant (the avalanche was entirely from a couple years ago, at least). Most of the material was Scientific American, with a couple Empty Vessel thrown in. I put the latter in the stack with New Age, and put SciAm back on the table.
Among the other papers were also two cards. One was a postcard from New York, sent by my best friend when she visited that city. The other was a colorful heart-shaped card with the text "I love you". Presumably sold around Valentine's day. It was never used. And surely never will. I looked at the two cards, so different in layout and content. A coincidence. Or synchronicity, as some of us call it. Some people think that synchronicity is a kind of magic or a command from the universe. But synchronicity just means that things happen at the same time. Things happening is external to us. Giving them meaning is internal to us. The two cards had been laid on the table at different times; they just happened to fall off at the same time. And the next avalanche, of memories, was entirely in my mind.
Even for me, time seems to run faster and faster. Sometimes I can look at my entry for four years ago and almost believe I wrote it last year. I have to pause to think: Was it one year or two years ago that I began to play Dark Age of Camelot? (It was two.) But when it comes to how long ago I last saw her, my head and my heart live in different time zones. I know for sure that we spent an evening together this past summer. But it feels like I haven't seen her in years. Which may be just as well, I guess. It is about time to get some distance. It is about time to think this over. To think it over from the start.
The start... she was just a small girl, she had still some time before she would start school. I noticed her glittering blue eyes and her boundless curiosity. I noticed how full of energy she was, radiating like a burning flame. And I noticed how she was able to think when others were lost in emotion. Yes, she was an interesting child. When did she move from being an interesting child to a friend? I am not absolutely sure, but I believe it was the day when I was sitting with her family, listening to them talking about things that interested them. Suddenly she decided that she wanted to play badminton with me. So we did. I can't play badminton well to save my life, and it was painfully obvious that she -- now a gradeschooler -- was already better than me. Quite a bit better, I'd say. But she didn't seem to mind. Of course, getting away from the chatter about boring things may have been the main motivation for both of us... but even being bored by the same things is a bond of sorts. We preferred each other's company, and we would do so again many times in the years to come.
I can't say for sure when I began to think of her as my best friend. I guess it was a natural thing as my previous best friend became engaged to her current husband. They don't call it 'engaged' for nothing. She faded even more out of my life than distance had made her do already. But Supergirl, no longer a child, quickly expanded into the emotional space that got freed up. Suddenly she was so many different things to me. I don't know how it happened, it all took place so quietly. By the time I noticed, I realized that she was already precious to me, and the best nonreligious thing to happen in my life. (Well, I guess there is some competition with me losing my childhood asthma, if that can be considered nonreligious...) And for a time I was drawn toward the human life, ordinary as it is, because even the ordinary seemed extraordinary when she was around.
I can understand now how people feel when they are in love. The grass is greener, the sky is bluer, the sun brighter when you are with the one you love. And in a manner of speaking, I guess I did love her. But it was not the kind of love you fall in. It was something as unusual as a familiarity that didn't breed contempt. And even though she grew up to become a very attractive young woman, physical attraction was never a big part of it even from my side. She was, after all, young enough to be my daughter (although it would have been a bit early). So it was kind of limited how far any of us could have gone down that road, which is probably just as well. There are some things that just shouldn't be imagined!
Perhaps it was exactly this trust in the purity of our friendship that made it possible for us to have so much fun. (Although in retrospect I suppose I have had more fun than she, but I don't know how much.) And I'm afraid this took a little beating when her classmate and friend fell in love with a man exactly my age. It kinda worried me, and I bet she did not feel too good about it either. Yet that was just one of the bigger nails in the coffin. Separated for years by great distances, we were fated to grow apart. And also we have different goals in our lives. In the long run I could not have been content in the world where she lives, she and her family and her friends. They are likable people, but the things that loom large in their world -- career, clothes, furniture, travel, drinks -- these things are to me like fallen logs covered with moss: Sometimes a place to rest a little, but more often an obstacle. I have passed beyond their world now, like once before I passed beyond the world of my birth family. No matter how much I like them, I still feel like a ghost in their presence. Something that should not be there, something out of time, something that can be seen only by mistake. My mistake, for not passing on completely and cleanly.
(And for God's sake, I am not talking about literally dying; I am in no hurry to do that! I am talking about a transition, and using another transition as a metaphor. I don't even believe in ghosts in the traditional sense, although there are phenomena not yet understood.)
So I guess I really loved her in some way, probably just as a very good friend. And in a way, I always will, because there is nothing to regret. But the future is different. In the future, if any, the bond is broken. I go on to the next stage of my life (if any), and hopefully so will she. Our next steps are not in the same direction. But it was good to learn this much about being human. I don't regret. My soul is richer than when our eyes first met over the living room table. I hope that is not just me.
I'm lying here tonight
Chris de Burgh, So Beautiful.
A little snow on the ground.
Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.