The other day my daughter and I were in my office at home. She on the desktop computer, I on the couch with the laptop cradled in my lap squished in between two dogs vying for my attention. As I tried, unsuccessfully, to elbow a place for myself, I glanced over from time to time to see what Boo-est was up to. She had her math simple solutions book open, some loose leaf papers spread out, the other laptop had some game on it and on the large flat screen was an open word document. Earlier, her little fingers had been typing away fast on the keyboard and I was dying to see what she had been writing.
“What are you typing Boo?” I asked her. Trying to sound not-all-that-interested. If you express TOO much interest, you won’t be able to see it. Either shyness or protectiveness sets in and you won’t get any closer.
“A creative writing project for school.” she answered, “But it didn’t turn out anything like I thought it would. What I wrote on my papers as notes didn’t make it into the story. I don’t know why….but it just changed.”
She turned to look at me in the big office chair which used to engulf her and now she fits in rather nicely. “Does that ever happen to you? Do you start something thinking it will turn out one way and then it just goes off in a completely different direction?”
Boy. Does it ever.
“Sometimes, doll. Actually, most times.” Immediately, her words started a little script in my head…I have to write that down…”More times than not, for me at least. Can I read it?”
"In a minute. I’m not quite done. But don’t change anything…okay?”
I agreed. I wouldn’t change anything. But I was now really dying to see what she was working on. She got up from the chair allowing me to take her place in front of the screen and removed herself to her room, plopped down in her large pappason chair and turned on her TV. If I’m looking at something she’s created (which is a lot…she’s always creating something) she has to leave the room. She, like most people or at least like me, fears judgement. She’d rather wait to see what your response is rather than see it firsthand.
I looked at the screen and this is what I read.
Creative Writing: Solving Problems
This is when the problems started to happen. With my best friend hating me, Judy Youth, and just about everything was going amok. My name is Rachel Charlotte First, and this is the whole reason that I am telling you this story.
In the beginning, me and my best friend John were playing basketball in the back parking lot of our apartment building. John lives two floors down from me and Mama. Daddy passed away when I was little. Our apartment building is on 32nd street, NYC. Well, anyway, I don’t want to get off track…so where was I? Oh yes! John and I were playing some basketball when, my arch nemesis, Judy Youth showed up. I’ve hated Judy since Kindergarten, when she poured her wild berry scented bubbles in my hair-ON picture day. NOW my kindergarten school picture forevermore has me soaking wet.
Judy is the kind of person who would do absolutely anything in order to make sure that her enemies are absolutely miserable. That is exactly when she took John away from me. It was lunch time. Judy asked John if he wanted a sandwich. Automatically, he said “Yes“, because we were all hungry. Then Judy says “John, you do know that I work at the deli, right? Because if you do, then you do know that I get a discount there, right? Jhonny (the owner) told me so.” That’s when John said “If I go, does that mean that Rachel can come with me then?” “I’m only allowed to invite one person John, so sorry.” replied Judy, in quite a bitter tone. That’s when I expected John to say “Sorry Judy, I can’t leave Rachel behind.” But, of course, he didn’t. He went with her to the deli. Leaving me here with a nearly deflated basketball, only hearing him shout “Bye Rachel!” with an echo-y ring to it. I really do hate hearing that, ‘Bye Rachel‘, that is. It really doesn’t seem right to me. It sounds like someone is just letting you go a-drift, and that is what fears me the most…someone letting you go.
When she took John, it started to rain. So I sat down in my gym shorts and tee shirt, right smack-dab in the middle of the parking lot. That’s when I thought about what I should do. I can’t just sit there and do nothing while she takes nearly everything away from me, piece by piece. I have to ask her why she does this. But how? She goes to a different school, lives pretty far away from me, and never talks to me. How can I tell her?
Once I got home, I started thinking about those words again. “Bye Rachel!” They just about kill me. I was angry, furious. I yelled at the top of my lungs as loud as loud could go, and started to cry. I thought things like: “Why do these things happen to me?” and “Who does he think he is, leaving me out there?” and some other things like “Why didn’t Judy choose me?” But I didn’t say these things, I only thought them. After that I went to bed and tried to forget about the whole thing.
The next day, I tried to call him, no answer. Over and over again, I called. He never picked up. Judy must have been my replacement. Or so I thought. He was out back again, I could hear him with his basketball, He was with Pat, from school. Yet he still doesn’t talk to me. I don’t understand how people think. One day they’re your best friend, then the next, they’ve forgotten all about you.
I went outside to see if I could hang-out with them. Once John saw me he said “Coming ma’!” in a nervous, embarrassed kind of voice. He called me afterward. He said “Rachel, I know that you want to be friends, but you kind of embarrass me…” I replied “What? But we’ve been best friends since 1st grade? What do you mean that we can’t be friends anymore?” He told me “We just can’t be friends. Bye Rachel.” And there it is again, that fatal sounding Bye Rachel. That’s when I knew that I had to stand up to Judy.
I rode the bus straight to the top of Judy’s street. She answered the door asking me what I wanted. I told her that I wanted my friend back. That’s when she told me “He chose me over you Rachel, I don’t understand why you don’t just let your friends go when they turn on you.” “That is why I don’t want to let him go, because you don’t really care about John, do you? You don’t care about life, now do you Judy? And most of all, you don’t really know what friendship is about. Tell me if you do Judy, because from the looks of things, it doesn’t really seem like it.” Judy didn’t respond. She left her mouth open real wide and stood there until I left.
Obliviously, she must have called John. He told me how proud he was to be my best friend, and Judy had given back what she took, without really giving back anything. I found friendship without really trying as hard as you might think. And that, is where all of my problems were solved.
Now, remember, my daughter just turned 12.
There are a couple of things in this little story that jumped out at me, the nearly deflated basketball, the echo-y ring to it, the bitter tone in her voice, even the fact that daddy passed away leaving just her and her mom. But it was the “Bye Rachel”, the fatal sounding “Bye Rachel” that kind of blew me away. The one day they are your best friend and the next they’ve forgotten all about you.
Things have been really, really good for me as of late. My daughter and I just came back from a vacation leaving us both refreshed and rejuvenated. She’s always rejuvenated, but this vacation did my heart and soul a world of good. The time for reflection has allowed me to really stand back and look at what a mess I have left behind when setting my old boyfriend loose. I didn’t realize (because when in the trenches you just can’t see the view) how depressed and suppressed I had become.
I didn’t ski much in the many years with my boyfriend, because he didn’t like the cold. I had heard that he used to ski, but I’ve never known him to or express an interest in the sport. So I stopped skiing. Except for that one week a year when Bear and I would join our old friends in New York.
I didn’t dance any longer as my boyfriend didn’t like to dance. He could dance, I’d seen him do it from time to time, but would he go with me? No. So I stopped dancing. Fact is, he didn’t really appreciate music that much, so when in the car, we would have talk radio (which I dislike) or comedy on instead of music.
I didn’t go to art openings, restaurant openings, fine dining restaurants or music venues any longer. He didn’t want to do those things. Even the choice of films changed into only going to see the things he liked or had an interest in. Fact is, even my style of dress had been subdued. I have always worn black, gray or white but he’d comment if my shirt was cut too low or my heels too high. “Looks like you’re trying too hard.“ Too hard for what? To feel good? Hmmm. My jewelry is never flashy, I don’t overdo, I’m not a trendy but a classic dresser…so how could I look as if I were ‘trying to hard’. Somehow I morphed me into what he liked. How in the hell did that happen? I suppose women do these kind of things, but really…give up skiing? Give up dancing and music? Give up things that I enjoy in order to just do the things that he enjoys? Did he ever do anything for me that he didn’t want to because I wanted to do it and he felt compelled to do it in order to make me happy? No. I don’t think so. I’m racking my brain trying to come up with at least one instance…and I’m failing.
The other day when Bear and I were on our way home, listening and singing at the top of our lungs to some song on the radio, I realized how full my heart was. In the car I find myself not on the verge of tears, but on the verge of laughter. My eyes are smiling, my lips are smiling, my heart is smiling.
It was a warmer afternoon when we got home and she and I went out back to the trampoline in the backyard. We cleared away the remnants of the fall leaves and bounced. We bounced and bounced and bounced and spun and spun and spun and laughed and laughed and laughed! I felt like Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat up in the air on her sitcom. Big grin on my face and just enjoying life!
I felt something, an emotion, that I hadn’t felt in a long while. It took me a moment to put my finger on what it was.
I felt joy.
But the ‘Bye Rachel” in Boos story kept resonating in my mind. When we split, he did send Boo a text at Thanksgiving, but had skipped wishing her a Happy Halloween. He didn’t give her anything for Christmas. He didn’t even send even a lousy Christmas card. He tried to make up for his gaff for her birthday, but it wasn't the same. She sort of just set it aside with not much comment.
“Is he mad at me?“ Boo asked through big crocodile tears. “Has he forgotton about me?“
“No, honey. He probably is confused as to what to do. He hasn’t forgotten about you.“
I tried to console her. Whatever is/was between us, he shouldn’t take out on Bear. He walked out of our lives and left 7 years of his association with my daughter behind. He’s known her since she was 5. Her father left us when she was 3. Her dad lives in town and is a good dad and very involved with her over the years, but I think that it has left residual scar tissue.
It was because of her relationship with my boyfriend that I stayed in that situation for as long as I did. Even with my level of unhappiness, I dismissed it because Boo would be sitting on the couch holding D’s hand, looking at him with loving eyes. But I can’t help but think that, at least subconsciously, the part of her story where ‘one day they are your best friend and the next the have completely forgotten about you’ is in reference to D.
I’ve talked extensively to Boo about this. She’s rather sophisticated; an old soul and understands complex issues. We decided, together, that its best for both of us to have him not be part of our lives, at all. There is really no need. He did send her a text the other day, telling her that he misses her-thinks of her often-and that he loves her. She answered back, because she’s polite in that regard but came and told me later of the exchange.
“I understand, Mom, why you needed to let him go. I also understand why you let him stay. Thank you. And thank you for telling me. I loved him, but I'm going to let him go too. I love you, Mom.” And with that she gave me one of the biggest Bearhugs of all time.
JOY. Ultimate joy.
“You seem so much happier now, you glow.” she told me. So you see, it doesn’t get much better than that. I’ve got to go stock up on those Life is Good t-shirts.
Low cut ones that I’ll wear with heels. Problem solved...
Footnote: My friend, Intense Guy, made me think a little with his comment. Yes, I was hurt. Yes, I was angry. Yes, I felt betrayed in some weird way even though it was I that had broken it off with D. If I didn't have those feelings I would be devoid of having any feelings at all! AND I had reached out to him in December to see if in fact we were doing the right thing and wanted to try to work things out between us.
I am so glad that we didn't go down that path. Can you imagine the mess we would be in if in fact we WERE trying to work on our relationship only to find out that the rebound girl was expecting? Now THAT would have been an even worse thing to go through than what I did...
They say there are no such things as coindidences. This may just fall into that category. Timing, I guess, IS everything!
And Iintense Guy...? I hope to NOT have any fodder of such a negative nature that I must write about! I hope all things will stay on the positive as well!!!