Do you ever think about the fact that the older we become, the more like a collage we are? And have you weaved that in with the idea that spinning toward the positive with every word you speak can really unravel a bad day?
Yes, I’m in poetry speak mode today. But I just read a Modern Love column about a man who decided to skip the small talk on every first date. I don’t want to spoil the ending, so instead I’ll tell you that the article hit the collage I call myself and landed on the day I apologized to an old boyfriend for the horrible ending to our friendship.
We were no longer dating when our friendship ended, and it ended over my big mouth, the way I talked all my stuff out with anyone who would listen, so someone overheard something I said about him and offered up the tidbit at a dinner party in front of many people. Bam, friendship over.
With the advent of Facebook, I looked this old friend up. With age, as that collage grows with scrap after scrap of life experiences, one grows wistful for the people you knew in your early 20s. I wanted to say sorry as my sentimental soul remembered how much I really liked him. I sent him an overwrought email filled with a big I’m sorry.
No small talk. No do you have kids? I see you own a bike shop. How’s that weather back in my old state? Not that I could have used small talk when what I knocked on his door with was an apology for my gossip. My verbal throw-up back then felt like unpaid therapy (it so wasn’t, luckily I had a therapist, too) but was a a talky way to figure out those crazy college relationships.
But what my old boyfriend/friend handed me back was beauty. Out of the grace of his being, he typed me a reply that said what he remembered most from our friendship. He said when he thinks of me he remembers lying on our backs and looking at the stars on a night in Chicago.
What if I remembered everything like that? The best parts. Not the angst-ridden endings that are a part of life too. But the part of the relationship that breaks into blossom. Teaching my friend (who later died of cancer) how to ice skate on a rink behind my house. Watching Pete climb the trestles of a bridge across the Mississippi. The 8-mile runs with my old running partner, even when we managed to argue. Because 8 miles gives you time for apologizing and telling one more story that has nothing to do with your argument over whether true love exists.
This is why I read my horoscopes. Yes, yes, these are fiction, right? But who doesn’t want to try to turn a prediction of a 4 kind of day into a 9 kind of day? And my horoscope for 2016 that says a supernova will teach me the stuff stars are made of this year? I’m on it. I’m making star stuff every time I remember that there’s a bit of beauty leftover from the ugliest endings. Like the way I turned on the radio to cheer up my depressed 4 0’clock self and “Footloose” was song number four. Joyful dance break time. You can’t make this stuff up. But you can make up your own meaning.