The melodic alarm bells of an international call rang at the deepest hours of sleep. And so, my dreaming mind abandoned the other worlds of the night and jumped to awareness of my bedroom. Next to me, still and undisturbed, my lover let the sounds pass unnoticed. After 20 seconds, according to the preset programming, the ringing ended. I imagined some anonymous caller from Africa or India trying to meet someone online, not realizing it was the dead of night.
They called a second time, and again I ignored the stranger. Then in the distance of the other room, a third ring on my cell phone told me the caller was a friend who was trying the other line. Too bad, too late, too rude I thought, and back to the arms of sleep I returned with my lover waiting there for me.
Later, as the pink of day began to fill the sky, I woke again as I always do to smile at the rising sun. Remembering the late night interruptions, it suddenly crossed my mind that my old friend from Fiji was likely the culprit caller who tried to disturb our slumber. In years passed, we have spent hours on the screen together, crossing the oceans of distance and the international dateline, keeping our friendship as close as possible over the interruption of the years. Once we watched a full moon eclipse together, us in California and she in Fiji. That was before the sunset of our friendship, and before the failed tests of trust that changed our innocence to disappointment.
When there is love, hope springs eternal. Unintentional harm can be healed, differences can be empathetically understood, and insensitive choices can be forgiven. But when love is broken by cheats and lies, trust, which is love’s foundation, dissolves. Where invisible understanding was once enough to ensure serenity, there are now fences to guard against fearful assumptions.
For so many years, we were really best friends. We met her at the party in the Hollywood hills where we introduced her to my boyfriend’s (now husband’s) best friend, a director whose star was rising on the tide of his first hit movie. They became parents to our honorary son, a union mostly blessed by his writer/producer wife who lived with them in the early years. We group-housed together for a summer, when our star director got the gig to create novel digital hollywood projects and hired us all as multimedia artists. Our thing was digital video, hers was 3D worlds, and we all crossed into internet productions together, launching novel sites we expected to be huge Hollywood hits.
We found a set of 4 lucite chairs in a furniture gallery in Venice, and she kept two and I kept two. She lost hers in one of many abandonned storage units as she moved on from relationship to new relationship, keeping her son with her as she migrated north. The bay area was a better fit, as she grew up there, was a tech artist before it was cliche, and needed a more family friendly California community for herself and her son.
So many times people would say that they had seen me when they really saw her, or the other way around. To look at us, we did not appear like twins, but something about us was exactly alike, and some acquaintances would get confused. We were light show artists, performance techies, and evolutionary agents dissolving boundaries in a cybertribal scene. But our homes and our jobs kept us about three hours drive away from our friendship, so we spent the next years socializing on trips together or at regional parties like Harmony Festival, Burning Man, and Mystic Beat Lounge, or at IONS.
The gift of movie star beauty, blue eyes, long legs and long lashes set my friend in a world of glamour that she at times loved, and at times abhorred. Being a mother kept her grounded and sane, and being a genius kept her on the cutting edge of lifestyle adventures and artistic assignments. Her problem was addiction, and that is what finally left us on opposite sides of a wall of trust.
I miss my friend, but it was not the distance that came between us. She disappeared into tiny fragments of her former self, each chard of her personality broken from a mirror of lies. Each sub personality wanted to be real, but could only pretend to be whole. The amnesia between lies was passed off as a secret that could not be shared, or an accident that called for pity, or a flirtation with danger that invited rescue as a substitute form of flattery and love.
I miss my friend. I know she is in there somewhere, on the thin veneer of light in her eyes when she isn’t playing hide and seek with my friendship. But I am not a rescuer, nor am I interested in following her into emotional dares that lead to some nouveau excitement or narcissistic attention, playing the unattainable femme who disappears into a myth or mystery once the thrill is scored.
Real love is ordinary, and also everyday. It may only have the flittery butterflies in the tummy when it is new, but it is a comfy cushion that frees my emotions to record and watch the movie of my life instead of always starring in it, then neglecting to keep the memories. I would rather make out with my boyfriend of 25 years than flirt kiss 25 new boyfriends for the very first time.
Those days were fun, but these days are better. I choose deep over new, and what I have is what I want, so I take good care of it. The thrill isn’t gone, it is transparent, and so huge that it just feels like joy that is everywhere, filling my space with grace.
Hats off to the friends who have not yet found their peace. I am still here, remembering how we grew. Bless you, and thank you for the lessons of time.