On alienating close friends.

I don’t know if it is grief that causes me to be an asshole sometimes. I think I was an asshole sometimes before Ethan’s death. I think I’m just more often an asshole now, and now more often less apologetic about it. And perhaps it is because there is this thing- I don’t know exactly what, but this rather immature streak, this obsessive compulsive tendency, this endless parade of thoughts marching down half a dozen streets in my mind all at once… You know.

But it does bother me to lose a friend- and after two years of somehow trimming those off the edges of my existence- the peripheral close acquaintances, it seems either unconsciously or accidentally, I am starting on those core people whose company, and voice, and very breath I will miss. And I feel almost paralyzed to do anything about it.

Should there be a purpose for friendship? Should there be reciprocity? Is it required? Is enough just to love someone enough to want them around? Why? And how much overlap and uniformity does there have to be in thought and manner and opinion? Any? None? And when is it time to give up?

In science there is this hierarchy of evidence. From editorials and expert opinions at the base, all the way through case series, and case reports, to randomized trials, to cohort studies, to double blinds, and finally, at the pinnacle, systematic reviews. And there is a method- protocols for sifting through to understand reality- to get a grasp on the natural world and to understand her nuances. The larger the study, the better the data. The more credible the source, the more weight it is given. The more peer review, the more testing, the more it is beaten and shaken, and picked apart by experts, the better. Anecdotal evidence is weighed lightly, with first hand accounts being a bit heavier than second, and Congressmen testifying before Congress weighted almost in the negative– because it is the only place and people where damaging lies- defamation- are Constitutionally protected.

So looking at it empirically, I can be an asshole sometimes.

And the thoughts in my head sometimes are like two marching bands a block apart. One plays I think, a Souza march, and the other some kind of Disney medley. And the crowd blows plastic horns. I sort through it all of course, methodically- noting things that will require more research. (So I bought myself a gigantic teddy bear from Costco and he sits there looking quite happy.)

I like books, and I’ve recently taken to reading again- which impacts whatever time I have for chores around the house and for painting and for writing. But I don’t think I could be a good writer if I didn’t keep reading.

There is a thought about happiness and sadness- that I could go to the wedding of a friend’s daughter and be very happy. I could hear that Phil is back out on the softball field and honestly smile with joy. I can eat excellent tri tip and roasted potatoes and be in food ecstasy. I can admire the joy of the young couple, laugh at the cute flower girl and ring bearer, smile broadly at the carriage that brought the bride in… I am honestly happy.

And all the time, in the back of my head I am missing my son. I am thinking of the wedding he will never have and somewhere here is this deep and heavy sadness… and no matter how I try to find a moment away, people find me. Happy people. I make a s’more and it is really good. And I sit in a rocking chair by the fire pit watching a gorgeous moon rise, huge over the ridge. I’d actually like to be alone in the cool summer air, by the warmth of the fire… To enjoy the moment in whatever way it comes.

And again, I’m thinking about a friend that I was cruel too… and no matter how I try to repair it with messages from my phone, I fear it is irreparably broken. And I have no answer. No excuse. No solution.

So I distract myself with an argument. I let someone hurl insults at me, and I try to play passive aggressive games by sending smileys and simply absorbing the attacks. Really, there is no civility or intelligence in it.

The evening ends with sparklers and hugs and a drive home.


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