Friday, August 14, 2009

Messy, wonderful and heartbreaking life

Since I didn't sleep well last night, this day has been endless. Chili Bob called me early this morning for our weekly chat, and I had to cut him short because my intestines sounded like a grinding gears about to explode and spew watery foulness everywhere. I made it -- just.

After all these years, Chili Bob and I have kept in close contact, through his surgeries and vacations, and my erratic travels and changes of address and phone numbers. There is seldom a week that goes by when we do not exchange some communication. When I lived in Hudson, he often came to visit when he was in the area. Toledo is pretty far from Hudson, but not so far that he couldn't drop by whenever he had the chance.

We both have friends we've known longer, but few have been as close as we are. There is nothing I can't tell him and nothing he won't tell me, and it's so easy being together -- or apart -- simply because we care for one another.

He keeps me up to date about his daughter Liz and all the important milestones in her life and his wife's milestones and low points, as well as his own. I do the same with him.

There are some friends I don't see or hear from as often, but we have had decades of experiences and adventures together that keep us connected.

You cannot help but be close to someone who has seen you in a bikini at sixteen or in the throes of a suicidal depression, from tears to laughter. In joyful times and times when you think you cannot go on because you've lost someone or something important, the friendship is tempered in the fires, and nothing, short of death, can come between you.

One thing I've learned is that friendship is easy as long as you treat people the way you want to be treated. However, if you're into misery and wallowing in depression, that brings up a whole other kind of relationship that has little to do with true friendship. Masochists and sadists leap into mind. Two masochists seldom make good friends and sadists end up trying to outdo each other until someone ends up hurt -- or dead.

It's really not about owing someone something, but about respect. When you care for someone, as a friend or a lover or family, respect should be uppermost in mind, even when the other person doesn't respect you. Above all, you should respect yourself first and respect the people around you, even when they don't seem to deserve respect, and we're back to that golden rule: Treat others as you would be treated.

What goes around comes around.

Chili Bob and I had a rocky beginning. He said I was as prickly as a porcupine. I was. I was wary of anyone who treated me nicely because I was certain (hard lessons from personal experience) that he was after something. He was being nice to me because he had a hidden agenda. I was snarky and he was polite. I answered in short bursts of terse emails and he persevered and treated me with kindness and respect. Eventually, I got the message. Good thing he didn't give up or we would not be friends now.

Few people have lived a perfect life of sweetness and light or have never been hurt or known a broken heart. It's inevitable wherever there is life. Zombies are a whole other subject. Life is full of surprises, adventures, mundane and dull days, repetition, horror, laughter, love, hatred, joy, depression, pain, heartache, jubilation and so much more. There are as many emotions and experiences as there are words to describe them, and they are all part of life, and friendship, and they are all risky. But without risk and possibility, life really isn't worth living.

Where there is light, there are shadows. Valleys require mountains. Love and hate are two sides of the same coin. And that should be enough bromides and homilies for one day.

Basically, life is messy, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing, as long as you respect yourself and extend that respect to others. They might surprise you and give you respect in return.

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