Saturday, August 4, 2012
My husband met one of his best friends when they were in third grade. Ever since, they have been friends, hanging out, shooting the breeze, and basically growing up together. Bob is particularly persistent in holding on to old friends, and all of his closest amigos date to high school or even further back. The last few years, Bob has been more of a frenemy than a friend. He was particularly unsupportive when S and I went through hard times in our marriage, and actively lobbied against me. He refused to interact with me, and was angry at my husband for choosing to work through our difficulties. So for a long while, they didn't speak, and my husband was fine with that. But eventually, Bob reached out and I encouraged my husband to give him a chance. Even if it's not comfortable for me, I know that he needs good friends. And that long history is hard to replace.
There's been a few year period of slow detente. They tend to get together every few months with a group of guys from high school and have a simple dinner or a beer. And that's perfect. I really am in favor of S having a group of males to go do guy-stuff with. One time they went to a bar and danced; one time they drove go-carts; when one of them got married, they went to a strip club. (Ironically, I'm the only one of their wives who knows the truth about that evening. Which I think says quite a bit about the health of our marriage.) But usually they just meet at a Mexican food dive or hang in Bob's backyard.
Anyway, Bob has been going into overdrive about my husband's upcoming birthday. Seriously. He called and texted about 15 different times over the last two weeks, asking what plans they would make and when they could get together. And my husband has been kind of putting him off. The first few weeks of school are an exhausting time for any teacher, and S has wanted to be low key. But Bob can't take no for an answer. He really likes to get the attention he wants, exactly when he wants it. Once, in fact, he actually complained to S that he didn't feel like S was putting him first in his life. S was so incredulous. He was like, Yeah, because I'm not. Not even remotely. My family is first, my wife, and then my friends. Any reasonable friend would know this already. No friend can come first in your day-to-day living. Even when they are in crisis mode, like my friend C lately, they still have to fit in around other responsibilites and priorities.
So when Bob texted five times on Friday, asking my husband to come over for a beer, and then when he couldn't because of our dinner plans, begging him to meet for coffee Saturday morning, I encouraged him. My gift for the day is that I supported my husband in meeting his friend for coffee, even though it was the first Saturday morning of the school year, and I had been missing him quite a lot this week. The time he took with Bob would have been time spent with me. But I kept my mouth shut and I didn't complain, and I smiled and told him to have a good time.
And they did. They had coffee and they chatted and they wandered around the downtown. And, one more time, S got to explain that he was happy still being with me and that we are doing really well together. It seemed like Bob finally heard it - he even said he would like to meet me for coffee sometime. So that was a morning that went really well, and I am glad that their decades-old friendship is getting back on track.
I heard a line in a movie once that always rang true with me: We get married so that we can bear witness to each other's lives.
I think that is an important function of a good marriage. I know that I love still being happily married to a man who knew me when I was fifteen years old, and who shares childhood memories with me. S has been with me every step of the way through all my life developments since then.
But I think that good friends can serve that same function. People that we know over the span of years, even decades, people who see us in different facets of our lives and care for us unfailingly, no matter what. My gift for the day was support of friendship like that.
My other gift for the day was a poem. I wrote a poem that said almost exactly what I wanted it to, and I feel great about that. Really very content. You can't ask writing to do any more.
And, finally, I cleaned out some books from my shelves and dropped the bag off at a used bookstore that supports literacy for prisoners. They ship free books to inmates in jails and prisons nationwide, something I know is vital. I bought a few books while I was there and told them to keep the $4 in change as a donation.