Solstice stories: know the rules!
It's easy to become constricted by my own, self-imposed, rules. So far, every person I have written about here is someone who, at some point in the past or present, I could have called a lover. It's easy to get hung up in that and write a laundry list of lovers, a titillating story of people and clothing undone, but that does a disservice to everyone on the list.
Love isn't necessarily about who sees your naked body; it's about the people who see your naked soul. Sex without intimacy is easily achieved, but intimacy without sex is a carefully-contructed thing, built of conversations tissue-thin on their own but overlapped, one at a time, into a surprisingly powerful thing.
This person was never my lover, but this person has been my friend for so long it is difficult to imagine not knowing him. This statement is made more incredulous when I tell you that I have not seen him in seven years, a number which makes me very, very glad that I will see him in a little over two months from now.
It has been far too long.
We were teenagers when we met, and how I wish I could go back to those initial conversations to see how we presented ourselves. I can't remember, and I suspect neither can he. We met because he was the summer-camp roommate of someone I dated for a while, and when that long-ago piece of history presents itself I laugh because this friendship has lasted about fourteen years longer than the single-summer relationship that spawned it.
I've watched over the past decade as his life has gone in directions never expected; overseas, back to the Midwest, to the northeast for grad school, and now a permanent job on the Eastern Seaboard. We lived in the same state for about a year, and since then have always managed to be at least a time zone away from each other, but he's still here in my life despite never being in the same room with me.
It's a bit ironic, I suppose, but he is violently allergic to cats, after all. Is it strange to think that one of my oldest friends, by quirk of genetics, will never be a houseguest of mine?
First, the memory I usually tell when describing him: how, on the day of my wedding, I put on the dress and a little bit of makeup and got ready to fake my way through being a grown-up ... until the church doors opened and there he was, the first person I saw, and what did he do? He started snickering. Snickering, I tell you. Nobody else heard, but I heard it—and saw it—and oh, it is still one of my favorite memories of the entire day. It encapsulated everything that was wrong—and everything that was oh-so-right—about the day I got married.
I tell the story of this person at my wedding because it's the kind of story I want to have more of as I grow older; I want to think that I can successfully surround myself with people who support the celebration of life's milestones while refusing to be sucked in by false pageantry. We all need more people who have no respect for our illusions.
The second memory is simpler, a memory of laughter dripping with sarcasm over the phone: "I can't help it if he wants to come over, have several drinks, and lose money to me at poker. Who am I to turn down such an easy mark?"
There are three rules: one, don't play him in poker. Two, if you are dumb enough to forget rule #1, for the love of all things holy, don't play for money. Three, if you are stupid enough to break rules one and two, DON'T DRINK, because you will go home laughing, amused ... and utterly broke.
I love him to bits, but I know the rules. :)
It's well past time he and I sat in the same room together. We can afford better booze to lubricate our trash-talking this time around. A good thing, too, because I suspect we'll have a lot to say. We've come a long way from our teenage years in Arkansas.
See you in March.