On Friendship That’s Complicated, Love and Limbo

First, a brief update on my last post: last night, on a baking supply trip to the grocery store, I realized that in fact no one has called me “baby”–or “babe” or “honey” or “sweetie”–with greater ease or frequency than Sylvia: the bleached blond Smith’s cashier with terrifying red pencil eyebrows and even more terrifying fingernails. This does not bother me. (Despite the fact, among many others, that I hardly ever shop at Smith’s.) And yet, later in the evening when D texted me “night, babe” I could only muster the response “goodnight, you.” Odd, no? Discuss.

On to our next topic. Which is that, well, which is that even my grandmother has asked whether I’d yet told “M in DC” (yes, that is how she put it) about D.

Following the initial obligatory inquiries (what does he do, how tall is he, what’s wrong with him, etc.) that has been the question most every close friend I’ve talked to lately has posed.  Many were mindful that I’m going to be in DC for a conference next week–a fact that gives this line of inquiry a certain relevance, if not quite urgency.

Most recently it was my NY best friend R. She and I adhere to a pretty strict communication regimen of frequent emails and less frequent phone calls. But the other day presented cause for an emergency session of instant message. (No, the emergency was not this.)

When the subject came up, I told her that yes–I had talked to M, finally, over the weekend. And that it had gone really well.

I told her we’d both shared stories about our romantic lives. “It’s actually really fun talking to him about that stuff,” I wrote.

So normal does the above sentence feel to me that when she wrote back “INSANE?!?” I did not at first realize what she was referring to.

“What’s insane??” I wrote.

“That you and M are talking to each other about other people! Doesn’t it make you a little bit sad?!”

“No,” I responded, truthfully. “We’re actually pretty comfortable in that mode.”

So here’s the thing about me and M. If we were in the same place, we’d probably be together. I say “probably” because, despite occasional proclamations that he is ready to be in a relationship, M, bless his blog-reading soul, is also known to sometimes pronounce–as he did this past weekend on the phone–that he “doesn’t want to answer to a woman right now.”

The point is, it’s hard to know: both of us are stuck, through at least the spring of 2012, in school 2,000 miles apart. For approximately twelve seconds in January of 2010 we contemplated–by which I mean I raised–the possibility of being in a long-distance relationship. For reasons with which I have since, mostly, come to agree, or at least sympathize, he dismissed that possibility.

Since then, we’ve occupied some sort of long distance limbo in which we have spoken, at times, not for months and, at others, more than once a week. This fall the pattern tended toward the latter–a fact that R likes to suggest means the guy I dated last semester never really had a chance.

I, though, dispute that claim. When I meet someone that I really, really like–as has just happened–whatever feelings I have for M don’t get in the way. Sure, there’s part of me that harbors some distant hope that things, someday, maybe, possibly will work out between us. But such vague hopes don’t–thankfully, they can’t–get in the way of other connections. Particularly other connections that are here–and that feel, potentially, just as strong.

As I wrote to R, if I honestly felt like the girl M told me about was someone he might be very serious with, I might be less comfortable with the whole thing. Frankly, that he was willing to share details of this liason–forgetting the details themselves–suggests to me that he isn’t. (I told him D’s profile–with which he was duly, sweetly impressed–but not the intimate specifics of our romance.)

In other words, if and when M marries someone else, I’m sure part of me will be a little bit sad. If I have anything approaching an accurate conception of how he feels for me, he’d likely say the same thing.

But in the meantime, in theory at least, we care for each other as people more than anything else. Which means, again, in theory, that above all we want the other to be happy.

Of course, the theory is a lot simpler than the practice–and the practice a lot simpler when both of us fall in with other people at the same time.

In those more murky in between times when both of us are single–well, as an old colleague used to say, color me confused. Angst-ridden. At times, as R put it, a bit “INSANE!!?”

But that’s hard enough to talk/write about when it’s happening. For now, allow me to enjoy the pleasure and ease of having a great guy here, and a great friend far away.


1 Comment

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One response to “On Friendship That’s Complicated, Love and Limbo

  1. Love this.. relationships are complicated indeed!

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