Long ago, I made a choice: make no friends. I don’t think I made this choice consciously or deliberately, and it was a slow process of isolating myself. I don’t think, even today, that I understand how powerful and far-reaching this decision has impacted my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hermit. I have my husband; whom I orbit closer everyday, who is the absolute brightest bit of light in my life, who is the man to whom I said I do and meant it with every cell in my body and heart. Years later, I can still recite my vows, the ones I wrote over many months, agonizing over the smallest word. And you know what? My heart flutters and my voice still cracks in all the right places.
And there is someone at work I am friendly with. We commiserate about the frustrations of our careers and, occasionally, our home life. I thoroughly enjoy our impromptu lunch dates. She’s pretty cool, with good politics, a fierce sense of social justice and, if it weren’t for the whole don’t shit where you eat thing, we may have become fast friends. But professionalism necessitates a barrier neither one of us dare cross. Or maybe it’s just fear holdIng me back.
Due to recent circumstances, I’ve been thinking a lot about my life as it is today, specifically my lack of deep, trusting relationships with people to whom I am not married. It’s been a little jarring to say the least.
I wasn’t always this way. I had a friend once. His name was Angelo. He died unexpectedly about three years ago. Or was it was four? I can’t remember.
Like many things in my life, I’ve blocked out the details. Some days, it even feels like I made up the whole he is dead story. I’m good at that. Bad experiences or memories are packed away or even rewritten by my brain. Anyways, I don’t remember precisely how long ago he died, but I do remember the funeral service full of religiosity that didn’t reflect who he was. But in the end, funerals are for the living, not the dead, and I hope his family found some semblance of peace, though I didn’t.
I may not remember the year of his death, but I do remember the twenty years we were friends, the uncountable hours spent sipping coffee and chasing men who were chasing other, hotter, better dressed men. I remember the night we met. I vividly remember him holding me on the west side piers in Manhattan the day I decided to start anti-HIV medication (back then, in the early ’90s, you only started meds when you were sick, which I wasn’t, but the treatment regimens were changing fast and the leap for me was hard and long). I remember he cried with me that afternoon. And I remember that made me feel just a little bit better, a little less lost, not quite so alone. For the record, Angelo was HIV negative- which made his embrace that much more meaningful, for I knew his tears were for me alone and not an expression of grief for himself.
There have been other friends, close ones, but transient. Life always got in the way. A new job in another state. A bottomless bottle of gin. A lovely couple in South Carolina who took me under their wing at a precarious time in my life and made me feel something close to love. But again, transience.
So as I look around at my life today and the home I am creating with my one true love, I realize that I’ve allowed fear to get in the way of a broader kind of happiness. I have cut myself off from a huge part of being human: making connections.
This is where I find myself: orbiting a man I adore and sharing a couch and, sometimes a bed, with four fantastic dogs who I also adore. But that is it. That is my story today. Time will tell if I breakthrough and breakaway. If not, I’ll bask in the fact that I’m blessed to spend more time than I deserve with a man way too good for me and a pack of dogs who deserve so much better than I can ever give.
But what I want is to be better, less fearful and to know less transience in my life.