Yesterday I attended the funeral of my friend. The last one I put on my ball gown skirt for was my mother’s in 2001. My friend was kind and he never once turned me down for fixing a clogged toilet. All I had to do was say thank you with my head tilt and fluttering lashes. It worked every time with him knowingly playing the sucker.
I had lost touch with him is recent years. He called me one night a few years ago, but my dog was recovering from surgery and I didn’t want to upset her environment. This was the last time we spoke. In the pew, I cried hard for letting our friendship go. I wish that I could cook for him now that I finally started those cooking classes I talked about for years. My tears came quick and hard. It seemed for a moment I was not only crying for him, but for all the people I have pushed away over the years. People who wanted to be close to me and I just couldn’t return the sentiment.
For all my hard-won independence, I just have a hard time being open to receive. If I need something, I work for it. When I heard the news about my friend, something inside me shifted. My absolute best friend of twenty years was called on Thursday. I have been inconsistent with our friendship in the past few years. She to her credit is always willing to let me back in despite my head tilt and fluttering lashes never playing a part. We talked for five hours about the state of our friendship and in the end decided that while we may have hurt each other like no one else, we also know each other the best. I think she is an amazing new mother and she still thinks I am a prima donna who can back it up.
We became best friends again. In a new way, however, I think we have come to terms with the fact that we just understand each other. Having her live in New Mexico (I’m sorry but that state really needs to change its color scheme) is a challenge, but we are going to make do. Why? Because our connection is real, human and while somewhat flawed it may be the testament to our humanity/human frailty. Before it sounds like some hokey new age B.S., we laugh a lot and she is the best person to send outfit pictures to.
My male best friend on the other hand, will never get an outfit picture from me. I was also in the pattern of pushing him away, drawing him in and then unceremoniously leaving until I felt like it. When we had a birthday dinner, I told him I was sorry and he accepted. How flipping amazing is that? He’s also a writer and we bond over shared amusement at our families. His dad is Puerto Rican while mine is Cuban and though there is a supposed feud between the two islands, they are almost the same person.
Over sangria on Friday, we discussed our friendship as well. For someone like me who chafes at emotional talks twice in one week seemed impossible. We pinky promised that he would be communicative and I would be aware of my tendency to pull away.
In the funeral pew, I vowed not to let that happen again. I would care for my friendships with a certainty that I never felt before. After all, when it is my time to go I want my two best friends to make sangria and beet soup while telling funny stories about me some involving that infamous head tilt.