25 February 2019

Redwood


I'm with a friend at our local dive bar. One of the unexpected consequences of living in multiple places is that it becomes more difficult to characterize friendships. The person who I consider my best friend is on the other side of the country. This friend that I'm at the bar with, though, is at the time of this story, my Seattle best friend. Let's call him that.

We're pretty deep into a night of drinking and I confront him about something. He and another good friend were out of town for Christmas. I had put together an early Christmas gathering. I held at a common space at another friend's apartment building. I timed it so both could go. My Seattle best friend didn't go. I was surprised that he didn't show up.

"I was only a maybe on Facebook," he says. I slur something about having timed and planned the event particularly for him and our other friend. He says something about not particularly caring for some of the people in attendance, but then adds something, "If you had told me that you had wanted and expected me to be there, I would have gone."

This blows my mind. "You mean I can do that?" I ask, bewildered. This feels like a superpower that I did not know I could wield. I'm not really inclined to think I can make unadorned statements about what I want my friends to do. This feels weird—too familiar for a friendship, even a close one. Apparently, this is ok. He confirms it. This feels profound.

This conversation rattles around in my head for years. Then one day, I think of a rebuttal. Shouldn't it be implicit in the invitation that his presence is important? Is that why it feels weird to have to make a particularly mention of how important it is? Why does it need to be underscored?

I think that reaction is bullshit, upon further thought. It has to better to risk the confrontation of demanding things in the present than be disappointed in the future when the want hidden in the message is lost. I wouldn't know though. As profound as it felt at the time, it's clearly something I fail to act on, again, and again, and again.

14 February 2019

Do you love her?

"Do you love her?" he asks. The question is unexpected. This guy is total bro. The second time we train he asks me, out of the blue, and in these exact words, "Do you grow a beard because you like how it looks or to get pussy?" Now, the third time, he's asking about love. It catches me off guard.

How do I respond? There’s a smart answer; that answer is "no". You shouldn't love someone who rejects you. And even if the feeling is genuinely felt, to admit and verbalize it gives it too much power. It is a feeling that must be changed. To hold onto it is sad and counterproductive. You say "no" for your own protection.

Maybe there's no smart and there's no dumb; there is just a feeling that, left unchecked, will be felt. Allowing myself that, the question gets no easier. I can come up with this thesis statement. "There were times where I felt a contentedness and confidence about the rightness of the times we spent together." I can recall each moment supporting this thesis. I can also recall every instance of anxiety. I can recall instances of doubt, and every moment of panic not knowing what to say or do. But, to love someone, shit, that's a sustained feeling, not just a collection of miscellaneous and momentary ones. It's unclear to me that these moments are even the supporting arguments that, when weighed out—and how would I begin to weigh them, point to a conclusion that answers the simply-stated question.

I don't remember exactly how I respond. I think I make a wordless sound that is contemplative but noncommittal and resume the side crunches that I was doing before.