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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Memorial Day is not the best time to contemplate one’s mean and bitchy emotions.  But I find myself experiencing feelings I haven’t had in years, possibly since childhood.  These feelings are making me doubt whether I’m a decent person.  And doubting whether you’re a decent person is an even less enjoyable way to spend a weekend.

I don’t like someone.  I wouldn’t say this person merely “bothers” me or makes me want to hide whenever I see her on the street.  No, I’m talking low down, teeth grinding, wish-I-could-hurl-a-basketball-at-her-head contempt.  Certainly, I’d feel bad if something terrible happened to the gal.  But if she ripped her favorite blouse or had a bird crap on her head, I’d pay to be around to see it.

Usually, I’m able to shrug off unpleasant behavior.  I believe people only act like jerks when life is handing them lemons.  I can look past the jerkiness and see the wounded soul.  Moreover, I have a fairly peaceful temperament, so there’s no inner rage to rattle by folks who are acting like boobs.

In truth, this person is no beast.  She’s just petty, selfish and breathtakingly thoughtless.  Though disagreeable, these qualities are not enough to flip my emotional switch from patience to disdain.  However, when these qualities result in behavior that significantly reduces my personal happiness quotient, well, heads will roll.

Fortunately, the realization that I have no fondness for this particular person was quickly followed by an important, somewhat life-altering epiphany.  Perhaps I’ve not allowed myself to dislike many people because of my own need to be liked.  If I actively dislike someone, chances are they won’t like me either.

So I guess I have this person to thank for aiding the maturation process.  What better sign of wisdom and self-possession than not giving a rat’s backside whether everyone in the world thinks you’re swell?  Once I decided it was okay to dislike this person, I stopped accommodating her ridiculously selfish needs and stopped making excuses for her grisly behavior.  I silenced my diplomatic, rational self and showed some anger and teeth.  Man, did it feel luscious.

And I didn’t even need a basketball.

[Image from http://www.blindgossip.com]

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Holding handsA member of my family was just in the hospital for an out-of-the-blue medical emergency.  For a couple days things were dicey and the whole lot of us was concerned.  It’s hard to worry about your career, love life or even your soul when a person who used to change your diapers and sneak you Twinkies when your mom wouldn’t let you eat them, is lying unconscious in a hospital.

Lately, I keep coming across articles and essays, surveys and polls, how-to books and talk shows about how to be happy.  I even wrote about it last week.  Supposedly, America is one enormous pool of misery and the majority of us are swimming in it.  

My kin got through the emergency and safely made it home.  When I heard, I raised a glass to him and thanked the universe, God, Oprah, anyone who would listen.  And then I realized what all those happiness polls get wrong.  They ask about work, political progress, structural hierarchies both professionally and personally.  What they should be asking is, ‘how are your relationships?’  ‘How are you and your peeps doin’?’  For most Americans, the answer would probably be, ‘pretty crappy.’  

Tell me I got six weeks to live and I promise you I wouldn’t spend those last days in an office, a new car or a shoe store.  I wouldn’t be poring over stock prices or fawning over the gradual rise of my salary over the course of my career.  Though politics is crucial and entertainment is fun, I don’t think I’d regret missing out on seeing whether women get equal pay or if Jennifer Aniston ever finds a soul mate.  

On my death bed, I’d probably recall the first time I saw Grease and realized the world was bigger than my Ohio hometown (yes, Grease!)  I’d think about seeing Michelangelo’s David in person.  And there’s this pizza I had in Chicago I know I’d be thinking about when I take that last walk through the tunnel toward the light. 

But what I’d really remember is my grandmother’s laugh, the birth of my first baby sister, special moments while babysitting my second.  I’d think of watching Mickey Rourke movies with my best friend in high school and meeting my first real love in college.  Christmases, weddings, even office parties.  And vacations!  Prague with Jackie, Istanbul with Leah.  I’d thank Andrew for running across Madrid to comfort me during low expat moments, Eric and Carl for talking me down from heartbreak during calls in the middle of the night, Trina and Chris for putting up with my drama.  Thank Dan and Stepha for just being Dan and Stepha.  

Women, especially, always receive a roll of the eyes when they worry about relationships and make them central to their lives.  But relating ain’t just chick stuff.  Yeah, by the end, I hope I’ll have had a beautiful house with a garden.  A kickass literary career.  Piles of ticket stubs from travels around the world.  But I know what it’s truly all about.  People make the world go ’round.  People are happiness.  Sure, people can royally suck sometimes, too, but I suppose that’s the nature of the beast.    

So, I guess this means we really should be playing Monopoly with our kids and reading them Dr. Seuss every night.  After we get married, we have to make sure not to lose contact with all the other people who meant something to us before the big day.  We gotta get along with our crazy relatives and work shit out with our parents.  And finding someone we can love deeply then work hard to keep loving them once we do?  Yeah, we need to make that happen.  

I mean, all this other stuff is fab, y’know, the job, material success, art, social change.  But it all means jack squat if working so hard at it keeps us away from each other. 

I can feel all the cynics out there gagging over this giant schmaltz fest of a blog post.  I can see them flipping me the bird and suggesting I go write greeting cards.  I could be a miserable American and tell them to bite me.  But I could also say, go hug your mom. 

And be happy.

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