Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Girlfriends

There's nothing like it.  You're down. You're out.  You can't say it aloud for fear of losing hold of your tenuous grasp on the here and now.  You wander around the house, inside, outside, pacing, not sitting, not typing, not reading, not at the gym or reading a book because you are sad.

Deep down, reaching into the depths sad.  Sad that can't be fixed but might be amenable to palliative care.  Sad that is out of your control because you are only responsible for yourself and you can't bend and twist another to your desires.  The kind of sad that you know has the potential to ruin a perfectly wonderful holiday season. 

Gardening doesn't help... at least not here in the desert.  I need the warm dark brown earth grunging up under my fingernails and the warm sun caressing my back as I bend and weed and dig and stomp and scream and rant and rave.  But the desert doesn't offer that kind of release.  It's a more physical, dangerous, tool-driven experience, and I am feeling too vulnerable to pick up the pry bar and work.  Accidents happen at times like these.

G'ma is a big help.  I can sit on her couch and cry and wail and worry and share and she hugs me and pats me and tells me I am wonderful and that the world is wrong and I am right and I know that when she wakes up from her nap she won't remember a thing.  The conversation was emotionally powerful, though, so she remembered the topic if not the details for the whole time I was there.  I'm glad my hurt heart has some benefits - even if it's only making my mom seem somewhat less demented for an hour.  Perhaps there is a God?

But G'ma is G'ma and she's on the No Unhappy Days program.  I can't burden her with my sorrows.  It just makes me feel worse.

So, I pick up the phone and I dial.  Which one do I want?  The one who will tell me to suck it up and get on with my life?  The one who will listen and sympathize and make me feel good about myself?  The one who will force me to look at myself in the mirror and make a decision?

It's a wealth of riches, a garden of delights, a passel of perfection.  I am surrounded by wise and warm and caring women, who know me and what I can and cannot do.  They succor me with their laughter and their tears and the knowledge that they have no interests except my well-being and return to smiles.  Old friends who have seen me through aches and pains in the past.. and will now and in the future.  Women who get me.... not always an easy task.

I can't be anything but truthful when I'm talking to them.  They call me on prevarications and equivocations and anything that smacks of running away.  They force me to be strong and they will be there to catch me when I fall.  They allow me to be weak and fearful and sad, so very very sad, and they understand that I need to wallow before I can break free and grow.  

I am empowered by their energies, their insights, their comfort and their care.  The world may be tumbling down around me, but I have some cushioning in place.  

Men are at a disadvantage when it comes to times like these, I think.  The smile-at-him-in-the-gym-everyday-but-haven't-a-clue-what-his-name-is relationship that most men I know seem to cultivate just doesn't measure up in times of need.  JES has been writing about men and women over at Running After My Hat, prompted by a post of mine on love and reciprocity.  He's trying to tease out the words that can describe the differences between men and women - can women really read the minds of men?  are women really more attuned to subtleties and undercurrents and interpretations than men are?  do women have different sensibilities?  For a girl who came of age with feminism, I balk at the notion that we are, somehow, biologically different.  On the other hand, I tried and failed to raise gender neutral children - Little Cuter put dresses on the cars and trucks I tried to hand down to her as playthings.  Big Cuter couldn't be bothered with the anatomically correct doll I had Nannie buy him one toddler Christmas.  She wore pink, he raced headlong down slopes on his skates. She made real personal connections with her friends which often ended in tears as the bonds stretched and tightened while he has had the same friends since we moved to California and they just seem to go with the flow.  She knows the ins and outs of her girlfriends' relationships and he hasn't a clue whether this one is still with his girlfriend or not.  It never came up in conversation.

I stop and reflect whenever that statement comes up.  I don't believe that there is a woman on the planet who could keep her relationship status a secret from a friend.  And yet the boys are just fine, bumping into each other over football and school work and politics and, perhaps, sharing a laugh at an old friend's ex's expense.  They don't seem surprised that they are clueless, they don't notice that they are clueless, they have no idea that they ought to have a clue.  

But clues are the basis of the whole megillah, guys!  Little hints, outright pleas, casually dropping facts into the smorgasbord of conversation... these are the things that connect us one to the other.  They are not extra, they are not disposable, they are not dispensable.  They are the reality that bolsters the here and now.  Without them your life is less rich, less potent, less than it could be.

There are men who can share.  I had a friend in high school who could dish the emotional dirt with the best of them.  He's happily married and getting happier every day, according to the email I received around the time of our HS 40th Reunion.  I don't know a lot of people who are on their first marriage who can still say that.  I wonder if there's something there.

More on this as it grows in my brain.  For now, I'm going to the gym.  Changing my chemistry usually works pretty well when I'm down in the dumps.

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