I have an unlikely friend. The Universe works in mysterious ways. When my phone rang a couple of weeks ago and it was the young lady my ex-husband was living with soon after we separated you’d probably not have guessed that I’d have answered. Or that she’d have been calling to ask for advice. Or that I’d have poured a glass of wine and sat down on my back porch, giggling like I was talking to a dear girlfriend. Or that I’d have been so very thrilled to hear the anticipation in her voice as she was preparing to catch up with an old boyfriend.
Then again you’d be just as surprised to know that a few years ago, when I was preparing our divorce papers it was Hillary I called. To make sure it was a good time to send them. That she’d be around if he needed someone to talk to. Because I hated the idea of him hurting and not talking to anyone about it.
Sometimes the world brings you the people you need in your life. And sometimes you seek them out, asking advice from the friends that you know will tell you want to hear. I knew Hillary would tell me to do what I needed to do, not take any bullshit, rip the band-aid off. And when she called the other evening, I suspect she knew that I’d tell her to dive in, head first, heart and arms wide open, because what have you got to lose? If there was ever a time to ask a woman if she thinks it is a good idea to be open to the possibility of Love I’d guess that the month before she gets married is a pretty damn good time. I think my exact words to her that night were “What did you think I’d say? Are you fucking kidding, I love Love!”
So it was with a heavy heart that I read her email last week. She told me that it was a no-go with the old flame. I replied that she just has to keep putting herself out there. And in what I declare a moment of genius told her that “our hearts are like earthworms. We have endless regenerative powers.” Hillary is a tough cookie. And when I didn’t hear from her I assumed that she was toughing it out. Her earthworm heart mending itself in time to be torn in two for perhaps the gazillionth time, but all in all, no worse for the wear. And then yesterday she posted this….
Dear Kelly Ann,
You never mentioned that once you try and finally let go….what happens when they try to force themselves back into your life? What if my guard is weak just like my heart? Why all these fucking games? Why all the constant tugs on my heart strings?
Sincerely, Hillary from cantstopthebeattt
And I am at a loss. I am a Dreamer. A Believer in Love. But I am not one to suggest to my friends that they keep putting themselves in the line of fire, earthworm hearts or not. So I am not sure how to respond. And when I am not sure of what I think I am prone to question what the asker thinks I am going to say… Did she ask me hoping that I’d tell her to stay true to her heart, to try one more time, to never give up, because after all wasn’t it me that was “in Love with Love” just last week? Or did she ask me because she heard the tearful struggles. She saw me crying in the parking lot of the Waffle House where Jer and I would swap Em for the weekend. She knew from our talks so long ago that I did leave once, but I never stopped loving. So maybe she was looking for me to be the Kenny Rogers of relationship advice and tell her to “know when to walk away, know when to run.”
As is usually the case once I talk myself all the way through both possibilities I can see that neither is really right.
I can’t tell you how to walk away. And I can’t tell you how to hold on and keep trying, in spite of the hurt. Because I don’t think we every really make that choice. Hillo, we don’t choose to fall in love. And we can’t, unfortunately, choose to let it go, either. I don’t think we ever really walk away, or put up a fence around our hearts, not when you love with your whole heart. So, then when is it over? It’s over one day when you wake up and you realize that you’re not crying. That you fell out of love as wordlessly, as effortlessly and quietly as you fell in.
So, keep treading water if you don’t want to dive in headfirst, little girl. But I’m afraid you can’t just get out of the pool. I don’t think girls like us have that as an option.
*A few years ago you put a bunch of pictures of your past in a mirror. A mirror that had been mine and had hung in my house, with pictures of my past in it for over a decade. When I moved out I didn’t take it with me. And it ended up in your hands. I hope you still have it. And I hope you keep looking in it. For a little while longer, anyway. And then I hope one day you don’t need it anymore. I hope you get all the answers you need from your past. And I hope you know how grateful I am for your unlikely friendship.