June 29, 2005

I'm A Million Miles Away Now...

I guarantee that you've received that email.
At least in one form or another, one of your friends has sent you that forward. The one talks about someone who hadn't called or spoken to, or had possibly argued with their sister, or their mother, or their soldier husband or some such crap, and then that person dies suddenly. It's supposed to teach us a lesson, and it ends with that sappy poem that begins "In a city I have a friend..." The whole thing is so saccharine that every time I receive it on my computer at home the rats in my building develop cancer.
And since exactly 8:34 AM Saturday morning, I haven't been able to get that fucking email out of my head.
Two summers ago, I joined my friends at their apartment to watch Sex and the City, as I did every Sunday. We really got together to catch up, eat Magnolia cupcakes and boo and throw things at the TV every time we saw Miranda's ugly baby, but that's beside the point. On that particular night, my friend Jimmy invited a lawyer he met on Fire Island the week prior: Mr. K.
He seemed like a nice guy. We spoke briefly about the law and my job hunt, and he gave me his card. We began to email here and there, and eventually he invited me to brunch.
Mind you at the time I was completely wary, and it took a lot of coaxing to get me to meet up with him. I had, by that point, had plenty of experience with guys 10-12 years older than me who basically wanted to work out certain arrangements, or offered friendship and networking possibilities but expected WAY too much in return.
Brunch turned out to be the beginning of a great friendship. Mr. K quickly became one of my nearest and dearest. He was trying to make partner in his firm, working 300-hour months, buying an apartment, caring for his parents and living his own life, but still found time to read my resume, help me job hunt, go to dinner, meet me for drinks, listen to me whine and generally support me as only the closest of friends can. His apartment was my apartment, his friends quickly became mine, and vice versa. He called me his "Little Brother". Over the course of a year, he became one of my most trusted confidents and advisors. He drove me nuts, but he was one of the few people I knew I could always count on.
Last year, when I graduated law school and turned 25, he made arrangements to take my sister and I to dinner to celebrate. When I arrived at his apartment to meet him that night, I was greeted by Mr. K, my parents, 50 of my closest friends and limitless bottles of champagne. It stands as the only time in my entire life I have been surprised on my birthday. I can't imagine the money and planning that went into it. It was, without question, the nicest and most touching thing anyone has ever done for me.
In November, Mr. K and I stopped speaking. The details are, at this point, inconsequential in every way. I was angry, he was defensive. Ex Boyfriend was heavily involved. Feelings were hurt. The little truths that remain unspoken and allow a friendship to survive were screamed over the phone and email, and we went our very separate ways.
About a month ago I received a phone call from MR. K. He had read an article I co-authored in the New York Law Journal, and wanted to congratulate me, to check in on how I was doing, and to see if perhaps we could get together and talk some time. I emailed him to thank him for his kind words, and to tell him that while I bore him no ill will, I had neither the energy nor the desire at that point in time to attempt to resurrect a troubled friendship. Not impossible, I told him. Just not right now.
Saturday morning at 8:34 am Jimmy called me to tell me through hitching sobs that Mr. K died of a heart attack during the night.
He was as stubborn as I am, which is why we were such good friends. In the end, it seems I was moreso, and now I'll pretty much have to live with that. I'm not saying that my reasons for the fight were not valid, or that Mr. K was not just as at fault as I was. I honestly wasn't ready to wade back into the mess that we started in November.
And I was fine with that. Until I arrived at his family's house yesterday. An old Jewish woman I have never met and whose name I never learned approached me, balancing a plate of rugelach in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.
Lady: How did you know Mr. K.?
Dan: We were old friends.
Lady: It really makes you think, you know? He was so young. Life is really too short for petty squabbles and 'Who said what?' and 'You said that' and 'I said this'.

I hadn't really missed Mr. K. since we stopped speaking. I was too focused on why we fought in the first place and all the things that had passed between us. I know that I needed him out of my life at that point. I just thought that maybe, someday, I would have the chance to let him back in.
And so, that fucking email with that fucking poem in it races through my head day in and day out.
It's stupid and it's mortal and it's completely human.
It's that trite bullshit that you often hear: Be careful how you end fights, because you never know if you'll ever see or talk to that person again.
It's not so fucking trite any more.

Goodbye, Big Brother. Love Ya, Mean It.


Blogger Paige said...

A* directed me over here...I have to say that was a fantastic post. It hardly ever happens to us, but when it does it's hard to deal with, and you are very brave to put that out there.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Mesabi Red ;) said...

A* also directed me here. When my best friend died in a car accident at 23, we hadn't spoken in 5 months because I was angry at her for things that now seem unimportant. I understand how you may be feeling and hope you learn to forgive yourself over time. It does get easier (it's been almost 4 years now). I've learned that it was the time together that mattered, not the time spent apart. And if there is somewhere beyond this, they aren't remembering the fight, they're remembering the friendship.

12:02 AM  
Blogger deanne said...

Hm. I read this when you first posted it; I wanted to comment, and tell you what a great post it was etcetera -- but that seems so... "meh" considering the content.

I can't verbalise what I would like to say about it, so I'll just say instead 'Dan - beautiful post. Life indeed is far too short for petty squabbles.'

[Sending mental hugs]

8:30 AM  
Blogger MilesDavis said...

An extraordinary piece of writing.
You have a gift.

7:58 AM  
Blogger dopeybugs said...

Phenomenal post...

Well done.

10:29 PM  

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