Age is the true educator.
My whole life I’ve viewed everything in black and white…all or nothing…this way or that way with wiggle room, leeway, latitude, flexibility having no role in my life.
Relationships, hitting a wall, were severed rather than saved.
Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water alas, came so much later.
I have a lovely friend I’ve known twenty-five years. We met, of all places, in the 92nd Street Y sauna. We were then both bouncy brunettes, fresh from yoga class cleansing our pores from all impurities.
We’d sit, wrapped in towels, modest compared to our older brethren letting it all sag and hang out. We’d laugh and say, “And to think I’m worried about a little back fat.”
After many shvitzes together, we started walking around the park, her legs the length of linguine, always in the lead.
I liked her so. Such a nice woman…a year younger than me married to a workaholic with one son she’s totally devoted to.
She lived in a stellar building across from my church with multiple doormen and valet parking.
She was also a vegan before it was fashionable teaching me all about juicing and eating raw.
She loved I was a model, telling everyone I was her friend…but then the wheels came off the juicer.
Because her husband was so successful, she fell into a much higher tax bracket than me. I was never one of those models who made money. Yes, I scored great jobs living reasonably well, but my idea of wealth and a nice Jewish girl’s from Plainfield, New Jersey was much different.
She lived for bulk while I, only what was needed. I’m still that way paring down all needs like a Sherpa in a cave.
We locked horns when I brought her flowers for her birthday. She was beside herself, someone as impoverished as me without a two-car garage would spend 15 bucks on roses I could ill afford.
I was floored when she said, “Please come get them…maybe they’ll take them back.”
Quirky, eccentric, odd…yes, my pal from the sauna was brandishing some interesting colors.
So what does Miss Black and White do? I toss that baby out with those fucking roses.
Three years go by…no contact missing her terribly. I even blew off the Y afraid she’d be rude to me, and shattering easily, couldn’t take the risk.
Finally, we met on the street, happy to see one another.
I was cautious like a cat, but realizing I want to rekindle this. I really do miss my friend.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is…you can customize a friendship. It doesn’t have to be what you expected it to be. It can come with threads and an in-seam that doesn’t quite line up still loving the feel of the fabric.
We now email more than talk. I make her laugh while she still coos over the miracles of spinach.
We don’t sit and shvitz in the sauna anymore, but enjoy one another from afar giving the other room to be just who she is.
And you know what?
It’s really okay.