This blog was inspired by Taylor Swift
Recently I went to South Florida to perform three Confessions Of A Serial Songwriter LIVE! shows but at the end of the week I realized I had also gone for another reason: to spend time with 2 friends I hadn’t seen in a while. My heart knew I needed to go.
Eileen and I have been friends since we were 3. Some time during adulthood, she explained, when introducing me at the first performance, our lives took different paths. She stayed East. I went West. She had 3 kids. I had 1. We didn’t see each other often but like most childhood friends, we never lost that bond. She made me cry before I sang a note.
The next day I went to dinner with another childhood friend who I’ve been going through some “stuff” with. We’re living in, you know, those alternative realities. (Sort of like the Laurel vs. Yanny phenomenon.) For a while there, I chose to put some distance between us because I was troubled that one of my dearest friends celebrates a President I find so terribly vile. But I had to ask myself what would be worse: having to navigate our drastically different truths or losing my friend forever?
We tried talking about it. It’s a rabbit hole. And if I had to be completely honest about some of the things that have crossed my mind or Facebook posts I can not unsee, we might not survive. So we keep it light. No current events. This can be tricky cuz almost any subject of gravity, given the present state of our union, can lead to an emotional landmine.
So why did I choose to re-connect if I’m not all in? Fair question. I don’t want to let go. Lifelong friends were “there” with you. They knew your parents, your sisters and brothers, your dog, your bedroom, your backyard, your deepest secrets. And you theirs. You just can’t walk away so easily from all that beautiful history.
Memories come in handy and are a respite from the unspoken: the boys we made out with in the parking lot near the bowling alley, the time she taught me (through a closed bathroom door) how to use a tampon for God sake. TMI? Like I said. We go back. These stories keep us laughing. I truly enjoy her company. It’s like old times. Like nothing ever happened.
But something absolutely happened. And it’s still happening. After our dinner, I get into my rental, turn on the radio and hear his voice — horrified all over again that she approves of this man. How did our sensibilities move so far apart? I would reject any President, even if he (or she) were aligned with all my interests but exhibited such hateful and childish behavior.
What kind of example does he set for our children? Landmine.
I often find myself missing George Bush. He seems dear to me now. Decent. 😳
Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy the company of, and find common ground with co-writers, Facebook friends, brothers-in-law, Uber drivers, neighbors who don’t align with my beliefs. It’s just that when it comes to my intimate relationships I’m more symbiotic with, and understandably drawn to those with whom I share core values.
Back at Eileen’s we talk over morning coffee. She knows I’m conflicted. Clearly I’m having a lot of trouble separating my love from my anger. She offers the fresh perspective I need. Over the course of the week I find myself flopping onto her in random acts of hugging.
On my last night in Florida I performed at Luna Cafe and my friend came to see me with a big smile. She looked so pretty. She brought enthusiastic pals. I was happy she was there. I want her in my life. Again, it’s like nothing ever happened.
I stepped onto the stage and up to the mic. I strummed my guitar and lost myself in that other world. Music is a temporary cure for anything.
Before I returned to Los Angeles I visited Eileen’s office. I’m proud of her accomplishments and her purpose in life. We sat down in a cozy room, and like the compassionate (professional) therapist she is she said,
“Shelly, I’ve been thinking. You owe your friend the truth. Perhaps you could tell her ‘I love you but I’m struggling. I might always be struggling and there’s only so far I can participate in our friendship right now.’”
To be fair to her, if she can’t accept this she can opt out. But I hope she doesn’t opt out. I miss our friendship. I hope we can spa again someday. I hope we share realities in the future.
Recently I was at an author’s event where Juliet Huck spoke about forgiveness in these strange times. I asked her how we forgive somebody that isn’t in need of forgiveness. I questioned if it was “forgiveness” or more about breathing into our discomfort until we find a place to co-exist.
She also said this (I paraphrase): in the course of ones life, friends can move around inside of a ‘target board’ and get closer to and farther away from the bullseye. It doesn’t mean we have to end a friendship but rather be open to the idea that the positioning between 2 friends, however dear — along with the depth of connection — can change over time.
There’s still time.
I definitely hear “Laurel” by the way….