For the past few weeks I have been caught unaware, surprised and often gobsmacked by people I thought I knew well.
I tend to think the whole world should share my sensibilities, as I imagine most people do, so it always comes as a big shock to me when people view things dramatically differently than I do.
We have a friend that was recently diagnosed with cancer, which required a serious surgery.
I think I have shared before that if I am sick or in the hospital the last thing I want is a visitor. Rolf went to visit this friend straight away and it was exactly normal for him.
I suppose if he is ever terribly sick, I should go visit him, rather than staying the hell away, which is what is my natural impulse.
I said "give my regards and tell our friend that he is in our thoughts. Tell him we just went through something like this."
Rolf said "don't sensationalize things Heidi." which I thought was absurd.
I said "people don't like to feel alone, they want to feel that others can relate to their situation."
So there you have two dramatically different takes on privacy and decorum.
I had coffee with my old high school friend J. a few weeks ago.
He is nothing like I thought he was in high school.
As adult he is deep, introspective, spiritual, quirky, confident, lovely and bizarre.
In high school and even before in grade school I thought of him as quiet and conservative.
I thought he would become a person with low self esteem.
He did not.
We have coffee every few months and the conversation almost always floats in the same direction after a little while.
We mull over the suicide of a mutual friend.
Sometimes we talk superficially about it, but more frequently we dissect the event of the week of his death. We go over and over it like two detectives looking at a cold case file, even though we know the outcome will be the same.
Our friend will still be dead, and we will still be profoundly effected by it.
This time I had an interesting thing to add. I had been contacted on Facebook by a sort of second string friend, that had spend time with our dead friend in the weeks leading up to his death. I hadn't thought of him for years and years and years, because he was the sort of boy that didn't find me irresistible and I hate that type, then one day there he was on my computer screen, which reminded me that he gave me a ride home on a very cold February evening from the funeral of my dear, dear friend that was inexplicably dead.
Not one bit of my demanding, exacting personality could explain it or make that suicide clear, which drives me crazy to this very day. Suddenly there was this extra piece, a new layer- this old acquaintance appearing through Facebook to jog me memory and add a tiny bit of detail that I had stowed away or compartmentalized.
We delved deeper into what might have led our dear gentle friend to act out so violently.
J and I talked about the gruesome details he knew and the ones I knew. I tried to match up the clues and signs.
At one point I banged my fist on the table, which led J. to say "now that's the Heidi I know! You said you blamed all of Lake Oswego for his death!"
"You think I was wrong to feel that way?"
I suppose I did say that a long time ago. I suppose I knew what I meant at the time, but I will admit now that mental illness played a bigger role than I used to be willing to admit. That and LSD. I like to hold a grudge and J. likes to forgive.
He likes to be forgiving.
I like to be angry and outraged.
It felt a little shocking to be called out like that. I felt judged. I felt betrayed that he didn't share my disdain for the people of the town we were both misfits in. I wasn't brave enough to ask J. what he thought of me in high school. He is a writer and might be too honest. I only want to be thought of the way I thought of myself and if he didn't view me as some kind of sophisticated loner I might be terribly disappointed.
The third incident of me getting things entirely backward from how I thought they were happened when I was chatting on the phone with an old boyfriend that I am still very close with. We were blabbing away getting caught up, when he veered off into telling me about a new lover, which generally feels fine, but there was something in his tone that made me wonder if I had somehow had his personality all wrong for the past twenty years. He seemed to have transformed into someone so alien that I questioned whether it was possible that we could remain friends. He was just going on and on about how this woman had transformed him, and that everyone he had ever loved in the past, had been false. I dated this man for years. He asked me to marry him. It felt like an intensely passive aggressive thing to say, but at the same time, if his feelings are sincere, then I suppose it's just the truth, but geesh.