What is a “Friend” Anyway?

I have a friend, I’ll call him Edward. We have been friendly for about five and half years now. We had a mutual friend, a woman named Jill who originally suggested I pursue Edward as a romantic partner. “He’s single. You’re single. You’re the same age. He’s a really nice guy. Go out with him.” I think she must have been telling him the same thing about me because he started asking me to go to lunch, etc. However, there was no love connection and that was fine with me. We never did anything that could be constituted as a “date” per se, just lots of lunches or meetings at coffee shops over the years.

I have enjoyed having Edward as my friend. We were both bankruptcy attorneys and connected around this. We would dabble in talk about other areas of our lives. We had lunch on a semi-regular basis. We used each other to bitch and complain sometimes when something made us mad, especially in bankruptcy. One trustee in particular kept us in conversation. I went through a boyfriend or two over the years. Sometimes I would complain about them too. He told me all about his nasty divorce, especially because a mutual lawyer friend had helped him out with it.

Edward traveled a lot to faraway places by himself. I would ask him, “You went to (exotic city) alone?” He would tell me that he had and that he preferred it this way. Because of work travel and these travels, he had many airline miles saved up and could get upgraded. I told him about a boyfriend I had had a few years ago who was in the Million Mile Club and how we traveled together and would get upgraded.

Last year, Edward got a job in Montana, moving him away from the Northwest. I knew he had been looking for something outside of the self-employed bankruptcy world because he called me from the road on the way to an interview up near Seattle. He did not want this job and was talking himself into the interview. Actually, I think when he called me on the way there, he had no preference one way or another. He was indifferent enough that he was not nervous about the job. He had applied on a whim and if he got it, great, he would consider relocating, but if not, no big deal either. He called me immediately after the interview to tell me just how horrible the job seemed and to laugh about the interviewers and their bland questioning of preprinted questions. We talked his whole way home.

Shortly after that, he really did get another government job, as an administrative law judge in Montana. He closed his law practice and moved away. We have maintained contact, mainly through texts, but sometimes calls. He had a judge training in Reno and called to tell me about it. It sounded funny to me, the subjects judges have to learn about. I send him screenshots of the Map App on my iPhone looking like a coronary the roads are so dark red, blood vessels twisting and covering the screen. He commiserates and thanks his lucky stars he is far away in Montana.

I did have coffee with one of his bankruptcy attorney friends a few months back. He had mentioned that Edward had been in town a couple of weeks before and the two had had lunch. This stung. I felt slightly hurt that Edward had been in town and had not called to have lunch or coffee with me. Then I reasoned that he had probably had limited time and couldn’t fit it in. I was planning to ask him about it, but then got busy and forgot.

Basically, we have had this friendship and I have considered him my friend, in spite of not having lunch when he was in town. Sometimes we communicate several times a day for a few days. Other times we go several weeks without communicating. If I’m with a client who is taking particularly long to read their documents, I will send him a text like this: Reading. Every. Single. Word. He knows what I mean. We have shorthand texts for stuff because we have sent so many texts over the years.

In any case, this fall I was at a hearing waiting for my client’s turn, my head buried in a book. I keep one ear attuned during my reading at hearings so that I can hear when they call my client’s name. At some point I became aware another attorney said Edward and Montana and engaged. I perked up my ears to listen. I thought perhaps they meant my friend Edward. His is a relatively common name (his real name is much more common than Edward). What other Edward would be in Montana? Unfortunately, they didn’t say any more. I finished my hearing and left. Was Edward engaged? I sent him a text and said hi. We chatted a bit and then I said I heard you were engaged. He didn’t respond to that one. I then said, If you are engaged, then congratulations. He said nothing in response. We texted a few days later about something else and it never came up again. I thought this was weird, but actually forgot about it during the busy holiday season and living my life.

Then I was in court again reading a book, half paying attention to the hearings, but mostly occupied and focused on my book. It’s been snowy off and on in Portland. I heard Edward’s name, and Montana. I half listened. Oh yes, the weather in Montana is worse than here so they deal with it better. Yada yada. Haven’t heard that 8 million times. We get it. Portland spends less on snowplows than places where it snows all winter. That’s fine with me. They should spend that money in other places. Old news. Then…Edward is a judge. He has a cushy job. He gets holidays paid. He leaves at five. Again, old news. I pulled out my phone and texted Edward: “They’re talking about you in court this morning.” Him: “Why?” Me: “You have winter weather and a cushy government job.” Him: “LOL” I turned back to my book.

Then… “His wife got a job with the state, too, so they both have the same days off.” Umm, what? His wife?!? I heard that. His wife got a job with the state, too??

I was completely taken aback upon hearing this. Clearly they were talking about my friend Edward in Montana. What made me feel taken aback was the fact that Edward is married and he never told me about it. And the guy who said this about the wife getting the job with the state too, said TOO, which means also, which means that Edward had had this girlfriend-fiance-wife before he left and moved to Montana over a year ago. She got a job too.

Not only did Edward not tell me about his wife, he didn’t ever mention he had gotten a girlfriend, or gotten engaged to her (and he ignored my texts about it), and then married her, and never once in our many, many conversations did he bring her up. Not once. He had a wedding. Weddings aren’t generally small affairs, and considering Edward is close to his family, I doubt it was an elopement, but even then, why not share?

Why?

Seriously. Why is this? I have been mulling over the existence of this wife ever since I heard about her. In the meantime, Edward has texted me. I haven’t brought it up because I don’t know how to. I’m not jealous that Edward has a wife; I am confused as to why Edward never told me. Is it because I’m female too? Does he think I want him for a husband? Does he want to keep his options open? I just don’t know and it’s weird.

I called a friend yesterday and described my friendship with Edward to her and then described what happened in the hearing. She was as baffled as I was and understood completely my confusion. She believes that he didn’t mention this wife (or the girlfriend and then the fiance’) because he wants to keep his options open, however slim. Maybe I’m naive, but that just seems ridiculous to me. He has to know we aren’t going to have a romantic relationship. We haven’t in our five and half years of knowing one another made any attempt at a romantic relationship. We live three states apart. Really, this can’t be it. And if this isn’t it, what is it?

Edward texted me this morning about the weather in Portland (it’s snowing, profusely). He then asked if I have hearings today (today is hearing day in Vancouver). We texted a bit. Throughout it all I kept thinking about his wife and wondering if she knows he’s texting me and if she is cool with it. Maybe that is why he doesn’t mention her, she would be jealous? But if she is jealous, why not tell me she exists? I can’t figure it. I thought about bringing it up, but I’m not sure how. It doesn’t seem to be the sort of thing to bring up via text, but it would be weird to call, too. “Um, hi, Edward. I have something to ask. Are you married?

How do I make him understand that isn’t the fact of the wife that bothers me, it’s the fact he didn’t tell me about the wife that bothers me. Why didn’t he tell me? It’s weird now. I thought we had the sort of friendship where we would tell each other about these kinds of things. We don’t have super deep, level 4 conversations, but we are beyond the weather, even though it’s mostly what we have talked about recently.

Maybe I’ll send him this blog post. Hey, Edward! What’s up? Why didn’t you tell me about your wife? Did you think I would throw myself on a pyre in grief that you were no longer available to me as a romantic partner? Do you want to keep your options open? Did you just forget to mention it and now it seems weird to bring it up? (Did it ever occur to you that I have had a couple of boyfriends in the last few years and even mentioned them on occasion so mentioning a girlfriend and then wife would be okay?)

I don’t know. I’ve been meaning to write about the discoveries I have been making about myself and friends. Too often I realize that people mean more to me than I do to them. People expect less from friendships than I do and I’m hurt and confused when they turn out to be less than what I thought. I know Edward and I have had conversations of depth, but we have had a lot of shallow ones, too. Maybe to him our friendship, or perhaps I should call it acquaintanceship, has been too shallow to mention major milestones like getting married. He discussed the pain of losing his dog with me. This is the sort of conversation that to me meant we were friends, but I should not have made such an assumption. I might not be the sort of person who would discuss my pain at the death of a dog with someone who is just an acquaintance, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is like that. I shouldn’t be hurt, but I am. Not because of the relationship he has with her, but because I thought I was more of a friend to him than I am. Add him to the pile. I’ve discovered it’s a theme in my life and he is just another piece of that puzzle.

If Wishes Were Horses

I have heard the expression If wishes were horses. I don’t know where I heard this. I am resisting googling this before I write so my writing is not colored by whatever I find on the internets. I keep thinking that if wishes were horses, there would not be enough room on the planet to sustain all of them. And also that wishing and wishing and wishing does not make something true. Desire, desire, desire leads to wishing, wishing, wishing. If every wish were a horse this would be a very strange planet. And what about the horses themselves? Perhaps they are wishing too. What then?

For me, if wishes were horses, there would be a herd indeed.

I did do an internets search and found out that it comes from an old proverb. Horses can be interchanged with birds and fishes. This proverb is recorded in English from quite an early date. A version of the expression appeared in the published works of William Camden in the 17th century. The first known citation of the proverb in the form we now know it is in James Carmichaell’s Collection of Proverbs in Scots:

If wishes were horses, beggers wald ryde.

The date of Carmichaell’s work is unclear, but it does appear to have been published in his lifetime and he died in 1628. Whether it was Carmichaell or Camden who first recorded the proverb is currently not known.

I wonder if this means that beggars didn’t get to ride horses in those days. This should not surprise me. Owning a horse is an expensive proposition. Capitalism would have ensured that those at the bottom of the food chain did not own a horse, which requires food and shoeing and a place to live. No, beggars would not have ridden.

Okay, stream of consciousness, too early because I can’t sleep post is over. Suffice to say, for me, if wishes were horses, I wald haft love.

Feeling Love Means Feeling Everything

And with one push
it falls
Falling
Falling
F
A
L
L
I
N
G
Then broken.

Shards of glass where there used to be a heart.

Can you imagine someone feeling so happy with you that they cannot be with you because feeling happy by necessity thereby demands they feel other feelings as well? And they don’t want to feel happiness because they might feel pain? How narrow a conception of life. How much love isn’t felt in this world because of the fear of pain. This is to me, tragedy.

Doubt

Doubt is like a leak in the wall. It gets in and under and around. At first, you’re not even sure it’s there. But then you realize a dampness has spread like a cancer into all the tissues. If you’re not careful, the foundation will be shot and it will all have to be replaced. Three weeks from enthusiasm to doubt. I suppose it’s better to get to doubt sooner rather than later, before having invested much.

I have decided to give up trying to stay in bed and sleep when I awaken too early. I will sit and stare at the wall rather than lying and staring at the backs of my eyelids.

That’s so Gross, Mom

This is how conversations go in our house:

My oldest daughter was singing “Can’t go to bed ’til you’re legally wed, you can’t you’re Sandra DEE!” I said, “You can’t even go to bed after your legally wed. Just don’t go to bed at all. Or wait. You can go to bed after you’ve been wed for ten years.”

“That’s so gross, Mom.”

Then I amended and told her seriously, “Aw well, someday you’ll go to bed. Just don’t do it too soon, and don’t do it with too many people, and use protection.”

“That’s so gross, Mom.”

Then I said, “If you’re with a guy and he says he wants to have sex and you don’t want to have sex, and he says not having sex will cause his penis to shrivel up and fall off, or his testicles will explode, don’t believe it.”

“Wow, Mom. No one would say that. That’s so gross.”

“No. It’s true. It’s been said. But don’t believe it because it’s a lie.” I said this with assurance, just in case she was thinking of believing some lie about a shriveled up man part.

“It sounds fake. I would never believe anything as stupid as that.”

Good thing, daughter of mine.

Good Adult Crush Ideas

I read an article that said adult crushes can be more difficult than adolescent crushes because you can’t give your best friend a note to hand to the guy in 4th period and my immediate thought was, “Why not?” Maybe you can’t do it in 4th period, but you could get your best friend to hand the guy a note somewhere else, like perhaps the water cooler at work if the guy you have a crush on is at work, or perhaps on the playground if the guy you have a crush on is another parent. Maybe you could pass a note via car windshield wipers. Just leave a note that says, I ❤ U. Maybe he’ll have a crush too and wonder if it was you that left it (or he could think he has a weird stalker, but just pretend that isn’t a possibility). You’ll just know it was him when you get the note back with a “2” written after the U. Plus there is no reason you couldn’t get your friend to leave the note. This might help prevent any stalker suspicion as well, especially if you have lots of good friends who could do this for you. And you could also do all those crush things you did as an adolescent like “accidentally” waiting for a drink at the water fountain. This works especially well at work with the water cooler. You just saunter over casually with your cup and get some water when he does. If he’s liking you and he’s sauntering over to the water cooler too, then you’ll both end up drinking a lot of water and this could result in a lot of bathroom trips at the same time and maybe, just maybe, you might bump each other on the way. Squeee!!! Isn’t the thought just too much?!?!?

This has real potential. I have to disagree with the author of that article. She didn’t have enough imagination about this. She probably doesn’t really have any crush as an adult. She’s probably married already and doesn’t need a crush. Her editor told her to write an article on adult crushes and she couldn’t think of anything to say except boring things like passing notes in 4th period. That editor should give me the assignment. I could come up with some really great adult crush ideas that aren’t difficult at all. I just know it.

We Have No More Passion

This is what modern life is:  All relationships are via some electronic device, or they do not exist at all. Meeting face to face is a rare occurrence except in the workplace, and if you work alone, woe be to you. If you want to find out what is happening in a friend’s life, you have to use some version of social media to discover it, because it will not be found out through real conversation. Even the phone has gone by the wayside and telephone conversations are rare. Everyone is too busy to connect with real humans that have any meaning to them unless those humans happen to live in the same house, and even then, it won’t be the sort of connection time and reflection bring, but the rushed and desperate connection of going to and fro. If there is a misunderstanding via electronic device which lacks the nuance of face to face connection, it is quite possible the relationship will end, regardless of how long you have known one another because with electronic misunderstandings comes the possibility of projection of whatever the person who misunderstands chooses to perceive, whether or not there is any basis in reality. Even when you do meet your friends in person, this is no guarantee you will actually connect with them. The devices are there too, intercepting. Faces don’t turn toward one another, but toward little screens, lighting the visage with cold, blue light.

These are the lives we have created for ourselves. In exchange for products that can do everything for us and do do everything for us, we have given up human connection, human passion. Maybe it isn’t such a travesty that we seem on the trajectory to self-destruction.