My sister-in-law (husband’s sister) is a vegan and a Buddhist, and an atheist. She came to church with us and was able to say she enjoyed the music. We walked home.
She wanted to have girl time later, so I got my coat and took her out to the berm (levy) near our house. She wanted to talk about sex, so we did. I’m good at talking so people will talk more, so I didn’t reveal too much about our conjugal bed, only to insure her that, yes, things have changed, and yes, I was still attracted to her brother. Her brother is disgusted at the idea of my brother and I having conversations like that (which we don’t.)
More importantly than all of that was her sharing her thoughts on love and relationships. It interested me, yet I felt a little uneasy and since then I figured out why. Her idea is one of living in the moment. Does she believe that, that person is worth it and was worth the time you had together? If the answer is “yes” it doesn’t matter if he leaves you for another man or breaks up with you to move to Alaska and find his fortune. The idea is that you can wallow around in the other, good feeling moments without feeling bitter or angry.
My response was to think about it, and sort the truths from the baloney. This is what I came up with. When I enter a relationship, it is a commitment of some kind. Maybe the commitment is to speak to this man sitting next to me on a bus. Maybe it’s marriage, but they both require something. It’s up for the people involved to figure out what it is. I was reminded of this by T, my bff. Of course marriages require commitment – that’s the point, right? But what about friendships? Are they commitment driven?
Second grade started and Small came home with a new best friend. Her name was M and she is a beautiful, not too bright, little girl. She had been held back a year and she and her equally as intellectually equip brother were in the same class. I did not like this friendship because I didn’t think it was a good match. Also, we had invited them to two consecutive birthday parties where they did not come. It wasn’t that I was offended, really, who cares at a pool party? But I knew something would happen that would cause Small to get hurt. I didn’t say anything about it, who knows, maybe I should have. Small went to justice and bought BFF bracelets. I told her if they break up as BFFs that M gets to keep the bracelet. She agreed that was appropriate.
It was less than a week when I had a sobbing little daughter, crying so loudly and fiercely that she was gulping for air. M had picked another girl to be her partner in a school activity. It was over. M had promised she wouldn’t hurt Small and then she did. There was a commitment on Small’s side to be Best Friends Forever. It wasn’t a necklace for her, it was a way of life. She’s moved on to other BFFs and I like the girls (and boy) she is hanging out with now. They are smart and social and cute.
But what about T. Now, I know you are reading this, Mrs T, but I’m going to write about it anyway. It may have been a misunderstanding on my part, but if it was, it’s an interesting misunderstanding. I was talking away with Mrs T and she was chatting back. We’re a noisy pair, the two of us. At one point she said, “I don’t know if I am able to do this.” I am pretty sure she meant that she wasn’t sure she was able to commit to our friendship. She said that friends in her life were compartmentalized – people she walks with, people she plays Parcheesi with, people she sees at church. I was running over onto many areas of her life. Was this going to work?
I think my sister-in-laws philosophy would be to decide the in the person herself was worthy, believe him to be so, and to love them. She was to love them without expectations and when he leaves, he is gone.
I can’t do that. I am too much like Small. I enter a relationship, I expect, no need something from the other person. It’s not a form of manipulation, although I can see how it might be perceived that way. It’s my reality. If love is gentle, patient, kind and keeps no record of wrongs, doesn’t boast then I have to look at a relationship through those eyes. I think that gentleness can be evident to tall without commitment to a person individually, but I do not think that patience can exist without a commitment. I will be patient – also known as “long-suffering” with you. I may not like what you do, or honestly, always like you, but I will be patient with you. You are you, unalterably you, and, even though I might be as zany as thought possible, I will not be reckless with your soul. That is my commitment to you. If I bind myself to you, and things go south, it will be sad and I will be angry. I think that, in most cases, that is okay. It is part of it, ya know? I don’t have the soul of a reed where water and wind blow through me unfettered.
Feeling strangely centered, considering I am pointing out my own non-meditative state. Good bye for now.
I think things are working with T just fine now, thank you very much. She is busy and happy and lost all her excess weight. I am not the same kind of busy, but I have a lot to do, and some times I even do it. I like my friend very much. We are like teenagers. Once overweight teenagers with husbands who work and don’t go to school. And text each other all the time. And drink Peet’s coffee.
Life is good.