I don't know what to write, or how to write it. I feel like I want to express, but how do you express what is hidden from yourself? I guess I will simply write and see what comes of it. I will share, like a part of my cookie or some french fries. I don't do catchup, but there's extra salt. Take as many as you like, all of them if you want. I feel that way. Sometimes I can be stingy, like watch it, only take a few I'm starving or maybe I'm so hungry you can have these and I'm getting another order of fresh ones and another burger too. Who knows. I can be fickle with these things. Generous to the point of losing my appetite to see you enjoy them or begrudging that you asked at all, but I never regret sharing. Today I want you to eat something good. What do you want? It's on me, a gift, so don't make me look stingy. I'll enjoy your company.
Let's start here. Community, relationship. We need strong, deep bonds, but there are other things too. I can't explain exactly how I know, but these other bonds are important, even if they won't be as regular or as easy to maintain due to distance. Bonds from the past. One person I reached out to for a specific reason, because my laughter died. Where did it go? I do not know. Gone are the laughs and the joy, the light heartedness of it all, replaced with a heavy thing, dull and unmoving, like a net holding a butterfly to the ground. What can turn that butterfly into a lion, and eat that damned net? This person. I looked them up online, and found them somehow, and through conversation got their number. After a few weeks I stopped getting responses. Then a few weeks ago they asked to get together. Coffee, Saturday, and they're even traveling to me when I offered to go that way. In this case I will buy their coffee, probably less than the gas honestly. I don't know what to expect.
This person knows me, knows the sides of me that need to be seen. They know the lows and the highs, habits and tendencies. This person will share the truth, welcome or not, and love me without restraint and without judgment. My greatest silliness comes out with them, and it's ridiculous laughter with thematic jokes that refuse to stop. We urge each other to stop but can't and so we laugh and cry and turn red and eventually stop talking at all, only to carry on more slowly with the jokes sprinkled in amongst other topics. A leisurely pace. I'm not expecting this lively interaction. I'm expecting both familiarity and strangeness, to see where we've held a place for each other as well as where we've moved on from each other. There will be sweetness and sorrow, but it's with deep gratitude that I go and drink coffee. I'm excited to have such a thing to look forward to. Investment in these long past relationships has been questioned, like why spread yourself thin, but this is a strengthening. There are deep, deep roots here. Grounding roots. Anchor points, not forgotten. There is power here, restorative power.
Parts of me are...missing. In C.S. Lewis book The Four Loves there is a part on friendship where he talks about losing part of ourselves when we lose a friend because certain things only come out around them. In my case the friend is not deceased, but their prolonged absence has had the same effect. Parts of me only come alive when they are around, and I miss those parts, and I need those parts. I can't explain more than an instinctual need, like a child for a parent's comfort in a time of distress. I have felt this I guess, instinctually, knowing but not knowing, knowing but not knowing why, having certainty that won't be dissuaded despite reasoning that is not explored meticulously for presentation to others. It is known, and it will be done, and that is enough for me. I appreciate your concern, but this is something that must be done. Sometimes something is done for the result, and other times for the doing out of necessity, with an unknown result. It simply must be done. Perhaps this will awaken part of me, and I can take it with me? I don't know. I expect we will spend time in silence, pondering, thoughtfully considering our situation and our words. It will be good.
What I would share, or encourage you in, is to reach out. These people cross our minds, and we cross theirs, but the connections fade and relationships cease due to inaction, neglect. Some flowers never blossom because we only think to water them, but never commit to the schedule and routine of sustaining them. Over time you may have a bed of flowers. How will you know?
There is a friend I felt a quick kinship with, one of those under the layers it's felt, perceived, unexplained but there. We're not similar types, but we have similar stories. It's very interesting. After 3 years I pursued, forced to really, but I'm so glad I did.
"What's wrong? Are you depressed?"
"I'm not sure."
"Have you thought about suicide?"
"I guess I have, do. Maybe I'm depressed."
"You need to deal with this. What do you need to do?"
"I need to talk to someone; I need a friend."
At this point I really didn't have anyone I could share this with other than my wife, and it's not her comfort zone by any means. I thought this connection could support this type of depth, at least I would try. We got together for tacos and beer at a place nearby. Slot machines. Sports on screens. Cigarette smoke in the air. Noisy. He beat me there, even though I wasn't late. Gray zip-up sweatshirt, much like my own, t-shirt underneath, worn jeans. His work attire. He had a booth in the corner by a window. It was dark, so it provided a wall, reflection, and cold radiant air that was only buffeted when a server walked by briskly. We were both fighting demons, different ones, but were familiar with each other's foes. The pieces have just fallen together into a great friendship. I rarely meet people I like or connect with, and this person is someone everyone seems to like and connect with, so I've been waiting to be left behind, but quite the opposite has happened. You never know what to expect. I feel there is some quote somewhere, so I'm not meaning to steal or plagiarize, but in the back of my mind with this one is the idea of "what is a friend for, if not for such a time as this?" I thought of that initially, combatting the guilt of why now of all times I was reaching out finally. There was more wisdom in that thought than I knew. A friend is indeed a friend who stands by us through the dark hours, even if they are merely a silent presence. This was a shot in the dark, but it hit the mark.
My life is this way. Ps 139:5 "You hem me in behind and before and lay your hand upon me." I used to get so mad, so furious at this because I've always seen it. I can wander but only so far, and my efforts are frustrated over and over and over again. But it has been for my good. All of these times I've gotten so mad about, there are so many others where things have worked out just so. Countless times. The flowers of the field are cared for and resplendent even though they're here only a moment. How much more then, me?