Tag Archives: Friendship

Song for a friend

lonely sea

 

I thought you were someone                                                                                      

I guess that you’re not.       

I got a lot less

than I thought

than I thought.

Should have known next time

meant never.

 

Those things that you said

which ones did you mean?

Seems me we don’t speak the same language.

Did we ever?

Should have known next time

meant never.

 

Found myself looking for a letter

One that will never arrive.

It’ really doesn’t matter, anyway,

I deleted your address from my hard drive.

I should have known next time

meant never.

Should have known it meant

not ever.

 

I’ve wrapped up my love

and put it away

So if I say stay

I mean never.

Should have known your heart

much better

that next time means

not ever.

Goodbye, again

Life is full of goodbyes, so many of them. Too many.

When I was a young idealist, I thought anything was doable, was possible. You could help anyone who wanted to be helped.

Now that I’m older, I realize how impossible that all is. It would be wonderful indeed if, to paraphrase Lennon and McCartney, all you needed was love, but sometimes love just isn’t enough.

I lost a friend today. She wasn’t a close friend and hadn’t been for a while. Maybe ever. The truth is I had grown uncomfortable around her over the years.*

*For the purposes of this blog and to protect her family, I’ll call my late friend, Meghan.

Meghan suffered cruel storms inside her head. Through the years the suffering grew worse and was so painful to watch that friends and acquaintances began to keep her at a distance. I admit I was one of those people. I didn’t know how to help Meghan; her troubles were like a whirlwind that threatened to swallow up anyone who came too close. The last time I talked to her she was in a psychiatric unit, desperate to get out. She’d attempted suicide and survived but the terrible injuries she endured as a result only deepened her depression. A hopelessness settled in and stayed.

There had been better times. Times when Meghan danced to her beloved jazz music and spoke with delight about her passion for the humanities. She had a keen eye and always had something original to say about a painting, a sculpture or a film. But as the better days faded away, it seemed as if her big, kind heart was just too heavy for her to carry. The pain seized control and Meghan’s speech grew staccato, like rapid bullet fire, her thoughts racing so quickly ahead she could barely keep up. Meghan’s life had become a burden to her, not a gift.

And so, she’s gone. It’s too easy, too convenient to say she’s at peace now. But I do. I hope Meghan’s found the quiet her mind never gave her in this living world. But I’m just so sad she had to go through all she did to get it.

 

Paradise…not (Part Three)

This is the conclusion to the story of my Hawaiian vacation from hell.   

Ah. An entire afternoon at the beach. Finally. Waikiki was more touristy than I  had imagined but the crowd was sparse and I wasn’t complaining. I had a thick enticing novel, giant towel, sun block, and pair of dark glasses.  I just wanted to Lanikai_Beach_Oahu_Hawaii_7089read, listen to the waves and doze. I looked over at Sheryl, already sacked out on her lawn chair.

Or so I thought.

“HEY,  I want to talk to you about something.”

I put down my book. “Okay,” I said tentatively and turned to find Sheryl’s face scrunched into a scowl.

(Oh God, what now?)

“I am really disappointed with you for not taking Mark and me out to dinner. You’ve been here, what, a week now? Not once have you even suggested we go out.”

“But  last night we went to that Thai place you recommended. My treat. I—“

That doesn’t count, “Sheryl informed me. “That was just the two of us. What about Mark?”

“I thought Mark had to work?”

“That’s not the point. “

Apparently not.

“Well, “ Sheryl said, “we’re taking you to the Polynesian Cultural Center tomorrow. You can make up for it then.” She stood and folded up her lawn chair.

“What, we’re leaving? We just got here!”

“I told Sandy we would go to the movies with her,” Sheryl informed me.

“Oh. What movie?”

Sophie’s Choice.”

“That’s a great film!”

“You mean you have already seen it”?”

“Yeah. About two weeks ago.” (Gee, was that okay?) “But please go ahead and go. I’d rather read anyway.”

“Well, why can’t you just see it again?”

Hmmm. Well, maybe because I don’t want to sit through another two and a half hours watching Nazis torture people no matter how wonderful Meryl Streep is in the movie?

“I’d rather not, Sheryl. I just saw it. I don’t mind at all if you go without me.”

“Ya know, I really don’t like your attitude,” said Sheryl, slinging her beach bag over her shoulder.  “What’s with you anyway?”

***

“Mm, this is sooo good.” I took another lick of my macadamia nut ice cream, ignoring Sheryl’s disapproving  glare. At this point, I didn’t care if she thought my butt was as big as her old VW beetle, I was going to enjoy myself.

Sheryl, Mark and I had spent most of the day wandering around the Polynesian Cultural Center, a sort of Hawaiian Epcot, taking in the tiki Hula girlcarving and hula dancing, sampling poi and pineapple (I definitely preferred the latter), and going on a canoe ride.  I’d sprung for the tickets which set me back sixty bucks but I figured I would do just about anything to keep the peace at this point. I was flying home soon and didn’t want my visit with Sheryl to end on a sour note (despite the fact that the entire trip, thus far, had  been downright bitter).

“Hey, look up,” Mark cried as he pointed his camcorder in Sheryl’s and my direction. Mark had just bought the camera and was planning on a making a little movie of our adventures at the Cultural Center. Having gulped a Mai Tai or two before indulging in my ice cream cone, I was feeling little pain as I smiled for the camera. Sheryl even seemed more relaxed. “Let’s stop and buy a couple of bottles of wine for tomorrow night,” she said. “We can get a pizza and watch Mark’s movie.” Sounded good to me.

***

The next night after devouring our pizza, we opened the second bottle of wine and prepared for the show. Mark dimmed the lights, popped the videotape into  the VCR,  and plopped onto the couch. “You’re going to love this,” he assured us. “Pass me my Oscar.”

“You’ll have to settle for this instead,” said Sheryl passing him the wine.” Mark grabbed the bottle, poured a healthy  glass full,  and pressed ”play”  on the remote. The video began with a brief dedication:

 TO MY WIFE, SHERYL, THE BEST LEI IN TOWN

“Get it? Get it? “Mark shouted. “Lei. Lay. Ya know, laid!”

“Oh, Mark, you’re so funny,” Sheryl giggled.

Yeah, he was a real laugh riot.

Mark managed to calm himself as we watched his document of our day at the Poly Center—the hula performances, wood carvers, craft exhibits. Lovely shots of Sheryl. He’d pretty much caught it all. Except…

“Hey Mark, I thought I was in some of these scenes.”

“Oh, I cut you out of those,” he said. “Don’t worry. You’re in one coming up.”

And he was right. Suddenly there I was.  Me and my macadamia nut ice cream cone, all up close and personal.

“You were really chowing down on that thing,” Mark howled.

I wanted this to be over. Mark’s video. This trip. My life.  The camera quickly cut away from me and my melting ice cream to a large hula girl, seen from the back, her hips shaking her grass skirt into a frenzy. But wait—there I was again, my ice cream cone further up my nose before the hula girl’s giant hips jiggled back into view. Each edit was faster than the last until the montage  concluded with the camera’s zoom lens as far up the hula dancer’s skirt as it could go.

“Oh my God,” Mark crowed, “you can see right through that skirt!  Man, what an ass!”

You could say that.

***

Late that night we watched the Monty Python movie, The Meaning of Life. Along with the usual M.P. absurdities is a scene where a vacationing couple visits a resort. As Hawaiian music plays in the background the tourists discover their room is actually a medieval dungeon.

I started laughing.

“I don’t get it,” Sheryl remarked.

A few minutes later, in another sketch, a grotesquely obese man dines in a restaurant. The man, Mr. Creosote, consumes so much food that he must regularly vomit into a bucket next to his table.

‘Guess he’d had enough.

I started laughing harder.

“That’s not funny,” Sheryl said.

No, it wasn’t.

Two days later I boarded a plane for the mainland and headed home.

***

Seven years after my visit to Hawaii, I heard from Sheryl. She called one night to tell me she was in town, would I like to get together? After I recovered from the shock of hearing her voice, I told her, sure, I would see her. She said she would call me at noon on Saturday so we could firm up our plans.

That Saturday I woke and made my usual coffee. I tidied up my apartment, showered, and put on a pair of new jeans with my favorite sweater. When the phone rang at noon, I didn’t answer.