Monday, March 28, 2011

A Year Ago

A year ago, I borrowed a screwdriver from my friend Tim to fix the bureau I was refinishing, my son's old bureau. A year ago I was picking dusty oranges from Tim's tree. A year ago, I borrowed his van to pick up an armchair at the second hand shop down the street. A year ago I was having a conversation with Tim in his driveway about a drama student, a student who had died suddenly his sophomore year in college. A year ago, Tim was the first person to see the house I had just rented, a few blocks from his own house. A year ago, I sat in the drama office, reading the high school newspaper and pretending to be a fly on the wall while he had a serious conversation with one of his students. A year ago, when I returned the screw driver, Tim had just returned from taking his Drama students to a debate, which amazingly they had won. He was so proud of his very smart drama students, standing on the sidewalk, talking to Rick, his neighbor, about their victory.

I taped the screwdriver to Tim's shirt with packaging tape. And I walked away, not realizing that would be one of the last times I would see my friend. A year ago.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I spoke to my sister on the phone today, the one who's teenage daughter is going through a serious rebellious phase. Yesterday, I stopped by my friend's house on my way back from the gym to see how she is doing. Her father has just been diagnosed with cancer and is staying at her house while he sees some experts at Stanford Hospital. A week ago I called to check on another friend whose husband just dropped dead from a heart attack two weeks ago at the age of 63. My dad was thrilled to hear me wish him a Happy St. Patrick's Day on the 17th, even though it was almost 11 pm at night. I try to see my friend Judy on a somewhat regular basis, who moved from the suburbs to San Francisco two years ago and is still recovering from the back surgery she had performed last summer.

I am be a good friend, a good sister, a good daughter. And yet, it plagues me that I have lost some friends along the way. Some I have lost to attrition - we just don't have time for each other anymore in our lives, we move on, we find new interests or make new friends better suited to us. But some friends I have lost to what one friend likes to refer to as "a falling out". An argument, a fight, a difference of opinion, a misunderstanding, or an issue of trust. I know I am not the only one who has "lost" friends over time, but it bothers me none-the less.

When I was a kid growing up, the friends I had in elementary school were not the same friends I ended up with in high school. Something happens when you are growing up; your interests change, your personalities change. You wonder how you were ever friends with this idioit or that jerk in the first place. Perhaps growing up is not the only time one feels this way.

I have lost two good friends over the past two years. Both men. One took his whole extended family with him. I am angry at him for what I perceive is his cowardice to hash out our different perspectives in person. I am angry that he would just rather walk away from our long standing friendship. But I cannot really do anything about it.

The second friend I have lost is my most recent my ex-boyfriend. Granted, "ex-es" are tough to keep on as friends in the first place. But I try anyway. I try because there is usually a good reason that I was attracted to that person in the first place. I have a great relationship with my ex-husband. I have in the past remained good friends with other men I have dated (some, but not all). So I have tried to salvage a similar relationship with this particular ex-boyfriend. But, our "friendship" is not working out as well as I had hoped.

And so, I leave this post with a question: Should I just walk away from trying to make our friendship work out with my ex? It certainly would be easier to walk away than trying to make it "work". At what point do you say, its just not worth the effort? Perhaps in asking that question, I have found my answer.

Marriage is hard work. Friendship shouldn't be.


A year ago I had just moved back to California from the frigid cold of the East Coast. A year ago I was picking sweet tangy oranges from my good friend Tim's tree. A year ago I had no job and felt I had lost my career.

Now I commute an hour each way to a job that's just a job. Someone else is living in my good friend Tim' s house and I don't even know if the oranges are ripe.

A year ago I had just moved into a shared housing arrangement in San Jose, and was thinking of painting my bedroom a different color. Today, I am thinking about moving out and getting my own place, so I don't have to deal with the cat hair on the stairs and the dirty dishes on the kitchen counter.

A year ago, I wanted to live in California as long as I possibly could. Today, I am missing spending time with my 85 year old dad and wondering how much longer he will be with us in good health. Today I am thinking that maybe it wouldn't be so bad to live back East for a while.

What a difference a year can make. And who knows how I will feel about things a year from now.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Bucket List

I watched the movie "The Bucket List" the other night. For anyone who has not seen the movie or heard of the concept, the "Bucket List" is a list you compile of things you want to do before you die (or "kick the bucket"). After they get out of the hospital, the two main characters in the film, who both have terminal cancer and who have become friends while hospital roommates, set out to accomplish the things on their combined list, together.

But the Bucket List concept is not what "stuck" with me after seeing the movie.

At one point early in the film, the every-workingman Morgan Freeman character is trying to explain a certain concept to the arrogant-and-rich Jack Nicholson character. He relays the following story. After you die, when you arrive at the Pearly Gates and your fate is being determined by Saint Peter, whether or not you are admitted to Heaven depends on your answer to two questions. Jack Nicholson says, "OK, I'll bite. What are the two questions?" Morgan Freeman says "Question One: Did you find joy in your life?" Nicholson smiles a big, broad smile and slowly nods yes. "Question Number Two: Did you bring joy to others?"

Whether or not we believe in the Pearly Gates concept or not, towards the end of our lives, if we are fortunate enough to have the time and the mental capacity to reflect on our lives, we may ask ourselves if we lived a good life, if we did all we set out to accomplish, or if we had any serious regrets. Instead, I think I will ask myself those two simple questions. And I hope I can nod "yes" to both of them with a broad smile on my face.

Friday, March 4, 2011

MY Friends

Within the last two years, two friends in my age bracket (one a few years older, one a few years younger) have dropped dead of heart attacks. Both men. When the first one died, I thought "anomaly". Now, I'm not so sure.

Does this mean I am entering the age when I routinely check the obituaries in the newspaper each morning? By this I mean SERIOUSLY checking the paper with the expectation of seeing the names of MY friends in MY age bracket listed therein. You know, like my dad does.

My dad is 85. When I call him on the phone (not often enough, I'm sure), he is very likely to ask "Oh, did you know so-and-so? Didn't you go to school with one of his/her kids? Well, he/she just died."

My dad has been doing this for years. I just didn't expect to be following in his footsteps quite so soon.