December 16 – Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?
Let’s talk about planning our 20th anniversary party.
Yes. Let’s talk about it.
My best friend and I have come through a great deal over the last 12 months or so. Our relationship has transitioned quite a bit since she married the love of her life three years ago and since I got divorced — where our lives used to be very emotionally parallel, our lives are now quite different.
On my wedding day (when I was very young!), she looked at me and said, “We can leave, you know.”
On her wedding day (when I was slightly less young), it was such a stunningly emotional day that I can’t even remember a thing I said to her.
We never disagreed before. And then I split from my husband, and she became a part of a significant twosome that did not include me, and my career took one turn, and her career took another.
So twenty years.
The last few years have been challenging, marked by an epic disagreement on Long Island in the Summer of 2009, which we tried to resolve by climbing Half Dome a few weeks later, and traveling to Denmark a few months after that. Silly girls, we didn’t know that the only thing that heals those kinds of tensions is just plain, old-fashioned time.
How can you relate to the woman you’ve always turned to when she’s maturing beautifully in her marriage, and your marriage has just ended?
How, in the midst of such change, do you relate to the woman who you’ve always been so in-sync with that, the night her house burned down on the west coast, you woke up screaming, throwing the bedclothes off of you, and shouting, “Something’s happened to Shay!” and your then-husband assured you that everything was fine, it was just a bad dream, until your phone rang in the morning telling you that in the night there had been a fire.
Divorce is a little bit contagious, everyone knows. There’s a of taint; a bit of stigma. My family is very traditional; my friends are all married — most with children. Being a divorcee is like being a leper, it seems. It is anathema in my universe to be single; let alone to be divorced. Personally, I don’t mind being single, at all. But to be divorced is a horse of a different color.
So we plodded along through last year, until she said, in January of this year, I’m coming out to help Clementine shop for a bridesmaid dress and I want to stay with you.
Me. Stay with me? You want to see me?
And so it began. The glimmer of hope that things could be normal again — not to go back but to move forward.
So she took a step forward, and then so did I. In the process of our delicate dance, small things would remind me that this thing between us was a thing that was worth fighting for. My marriage had not been elastic enough to contain the heart that had grown within me as my life had changed with all that had happened with my brother, with my family, with my life. But we had stretched to the breaking point and had snapped back in recognizable shape.
Every day, every time we talk, we are growing, changing, learning. We will never be the same as we were when we were little girls — our lives have seen too many grown-up moments now. And though we fancied ourselves very grown-up from quite a young age, there was always something so innocent between us that we had clung to; that we were desperate to keep.
In short order, when we celebrate our twentieth anniversary, it will be a true milestone, not just a check-mark ticking off years of knowing each other. We have earned this; we have fought for this. And this year has taught that fighting for the things worth keeping is not as easy as it seems, but the battle has been infinitely more rewarding than it might appear.