Friday, July 8, 2011
Entrances and Exits
People come into our lives for a reason. They can enter and remain for a very long time; a parent, sibling, child, lover, or friend or they can be transitory; a clerk in a store, a stranger on a street, or a fellow traveler on a plane. But for however long they are here with us, they will teach us something, we just have to be patient long enough to learn what it is.
And they exit for a reason also. Sometimes they exit voluntarily (my ex comes to mind here) and other times not. Most of the time they exit because the lesson is over, whether you have realized it or not. But not always.
Moving forward is not easy, especially when you have not completely let go of the past.
Today I bought a birthday card to celebrate a birthday I haven't celebrated in 8 years. I stopped in a small stationery store, and I wandered around lost, eyes glazed, on the verge of crying. For this had been clawing at me for a while now. And this was the first time I was publicly going to address it.
The clerk asked gently, "Are you looking for something in particular?"
"I need a birthday card, blank inside is ok." My heart is pounding.
"We have a nice selection over here. May I ask, who is this for?"
"A woman. It's her birthday, and I need to make amends." My lips are quivering, I take a deep breath.
"Might I suggest a blank card, that way you can write your own words instead of finding a verse that fits the occasion." The clerk is gentle.
"She had been my friend for years, in fact, she was with me at my first partner's deathbed." I am holding it back.
The clerk nods understandingly.
"My next boyfriend warned her not to come around me as she reminded me of my deceased partner. And she stepped aside for my happiness." My eyes well up, the clerk is understandingly silent. "I didn't find out the truth until 2 months ago through a trusted third party. And it's been 8 years we haven't spoken." My eyes well up further, voice is cracking.
"A true friend who would step aside for your happiness, knowing you would return." The clerk adds tenderly.
"I need to apologize." I'm trying to hold myself together.
"You do not, neither of you did anything wrong; you are asking for a restart, to pick up where you left off 8 years ago." Oh, god, it's getting harder to keep it together now.
I settle on a card with an Asian-themed vase filled with green, purple and pink hydrangeas.
People enter and exit our lives for a number of reasons. In the past year I have been blessed to meet a number of new people, mostly gay men. Some have been transitory, teaching me a simple lesson; others have lasted a while longer, their lessons ongoing. Some lessons I saw early on, my first date since my divorce taught me I could meet a new man and not feel that I was cheating on my ex. Some lessons I am still trying to figure out. But all of these lessons, like being emotional in a stationery store in front of a clerk, are preparing me for the Man Across the Bridge.