Home On The Fringe

Fringe Art

Contact Us

Recent Ramblings

The Chronicles

Fringe Reads

  • Powered by Blogger
  • Weblog Commenting and 

Trackback by HaloScan.com
  • Get StatCounter!


I'm watching the National Spelling Bee right now, and the predicted favorite just mis-spelled the word "heiligenschein," a word that he tortured himself over, you could see him screaming at himself in his mind as he asked the moderator repeatedly, "Is there an alternate pronunciation? Could you tell me the language of origin? What's the definition again? Is there an alternate definition?" until he was finally forced to guess and he spelled the word "hyligenschein." When he finished spelling the word, he repeated it in the same breath of the final "n" with hopeful, eager eyes, eyes that suggested he was pretty sure his wild guess had been right, eyes that filled with tears almost instantaneously when the "wrong ding" sounded, eyes on a young, new face that felt a little shocked, a little betrayed by himself and all those people that told him he would win.
I'm not the kind of person who had specific plans for her adult life. I didn't have a life-long dream to become a doctor, or a lawyer, or a teacher, or a painter. I couldn't picture anything when I tried to imagine myself as an adult because so much of my young life was spent processing situations that kids really shouldn't have to process. Adulthood started for me about ten years sooner than it was supposed to, so by the time I reached chronological adulthood, I had already been a functional adult for so long that I realized I'd missed my opportunity to dream up a great future for myself. This doesn't mean I haven't had goals or that I haven't discovered interests or haven't come up with new ways to look ahead; it just means that it might take me longer to define, plan, and implement those goals than I might have preferred. And it means when I come to roadblocks, I might feel more frustration than I would have because I know how difficult it is to start all over.

I started a new job in late January, back at the company from which I was laid off in the aftermath of the Enron scandal and 9/11. There were certain tangible reasons I wanted to return to this company, and I knew, I WILLED, from the time I was laid off that eventually I would return. It took three years, but I did it. And from a practicality standpoint, I've met yet another goal--good for me. But as with every accomplishment I make, after the back-breaking exertion I put forth to reach the next pinnacle or overcome the next challenge, I'm looking around and saying, "So what?" I remember why I ever wanted to work there (even before the layoff, before I had a reason to prove I could go back, that the layoff wasn't a reflection on ME, because no corporation is going to tell me I'm not capable of getting by in their clique-y, political, really-not-that-challenging-despite-what-they-think club), but now all those reasons don't make any sense to me. All those reasons are what I'm saying "so what?" to, about which I'm exhaustedly holding up to the light and saying, "Crap. Now I have to start over with this whole 'life goal' thing."

I have a good friend who recently began having an affair, and she regularly comes to me for advice and then tells me how helpful I've been, how correct I am, how I always see things so clearly and articulate them so well for her, how the counselors she's been to were total crap compared to the help I give her. But the thing is, she started coming to me for advice before the affair began, and apparently my sage advice was absolutely pointless, because she went ahead with the affair anyway. And now that my predictions have come true, and things have started to go sour (HELLO!!!) with the co-cheater, she wants more advice, and specifically asked me for a self-esteem boost. None of my "advice" has changed since the beginning of these talks: Decide what you want - your marriage or the new option - and take the appropriate, humane steps (if it's your marriage, get away from the new option NOW before it's too late; if it's the new option, end the charade in the marriage and let your spouse know your intentions to leave). There is no stage of limbo that can possibly turn out to be a good situation for all parties. Out of...what? Fear? Denial? I don't know... she chose to stay in limbo, and things went beyond her control. She says she never thought she would be in this predicament. She thought her marriage would last forever. She never wanted to live with the guilt of something like this. She couldn't tell her husband because they'd agreed if adultery was involved, the marriage would immediately end; she didn't want the marriage to end because she didn't want to lose her kids. She felt stuck, lost, confused, and angry. And me? I feel all of those things for her, but mostly I feel disappointment that she couldn't see past the circumstances and recognize what her actions were going to cause for her long-term emotional state. I feel disappointment that she approached me for help and advice, and despite my earnest attempts to show her what I thought was the objective truth, she didn't see it. As terrible as it sounds, I feel the same disappointment in her as she feels in herself. I don't tell her that with my words; I focus on the fact that she still has decisions to make and she needs to weigh those decisions more carefully now, but the disappointment feels like a heavy, muffling, stifling presence between us.
The past several months have brought me face to face with an ugly reality about another close friendship of mine. Actually, this was more than a close friendship; if I had someone I'd identify as a "best friend" as an adult, this would have been her. In high school, I always only had a few really close friends, and a lot of "acquaintances" that accepted me into their circles and knew me fairly well at school, but we wouldn't have considered calling each other or getting together at any other time. This was an unfortunate personality trait of mine, because ALL (as in every single one) of those "close friends" through junior high and high school, the friends that I spent all my time with outside of school, the ones all of my time and affection and energy went into, ended up stabbing me in the back and leaving me for dead on the side of High School Friendship Drive at least once. By graduation, I had done a bang-up job of becoming The Responsible One who worked 40 hours a week, made straight A's, and was well-liked by peers at school, all of whom assumed I was hanging out with different people after school and on weekends, because I wasn't with any of them. I was with my college applications and my bills and my protective outer shell and my STAY THE HELL AWAY I'M SICK OF GETTING HURT emotional arsenal. At my first real job after college, when I met a friend who claimed (or maybe I just assumed she claimed, maybe it was wishful thinking) to have similar feelings and who initially seemed willing to put the same amount of effort into a friendship as I was, I thought that maybe all friendships didn't have to be one-sided after all, that maybe my experiences were just terrible high school flaws and that now, now I could feel true friendship again, or for the first time. When she moved away less than a year later, although I was sad to see her go, it didn't make me question whether or not we would remain close friends; there would be visits, phone calls, and e-mails. We talked regularly through both of our pregnancies, sent each other birthday and holiday presents, and even sent gifts to each other's kids. As the years have dragged on, her correspondence has become less and less frequent, her acknowledgment of my birthdays ended a couple of years ago, and this year we lost the acknowledgment of the kids' birthdays. The final blow to me has been slow and gradual, not a hard K.O. like what I remember from junior high and high school; first she stopped returning calls promptly, then at all; next, her e-mails became few and far between, and when I told her she could check this blog for occasional updates, I knew she wouldn't (and she hasn't); finally I e-mailed her and told her to respond with a one-liner so I would know she received the e-mail, because it had been months since I'd gotten any response at all, despite the fact that my messages to her contained all sorts of information about major changes and goings-on in my life, things that friends typically care about (at least I think friends are supposed to care; right? I'm not even sure anymore). She responded, and I was innocently hopeful, then, as I read, markedly disappointed, then just very sad. "Blah blah, I'm busy and stressed because of my job and my child, I might have deleted your e-mails, oops, blah blah. Oh by the way, how is your job, didn't you get a new one or something? Well, gotta go." I'm paraphrasing, but not totally in exaggeration. She might as well have put a "*yawn*" at the end of her message, and effectively that's what she did by simply not responding to my reply where I answered her painfully obvious courtesy questions.
I know it's life and all. I know people are stupid and selfish and that everyone's a child. And I don't even know that all these subjects really should be talked about in the same post; all I know is that they all make me feel like that spelling bee kid: hopeful and eager, then shocked, sad, disappointed, and a little angry at everyone, even myself.

Labels: ,