Life's been simple lately. Not honeysuckle simple, but simple enough.It was a necessary change. I haven't said a lot here precisely because I couldn't find the right angle, the correct approach, the perfect turn of phrase that could make it all simple and make it all sound reasonably okay. Because, the truth is, in the end, things are good.
Call it a dilemma: there are parts of my life I don't write about here because they're far too personal, far too private, or sometimes just involve intimate parts of other people's lives. Parts they're not totally comfortable with me sharing—online, or sometimes even in person. Some secrets can be quietly acknowledged among close friends, but some must remain nothing more than stifled whispers in empty rooms.
I called it "the incident." I knew every person who was affected by it, and cared very much about all of them. I was not directly affected by what happened, but was close enough to everyone involved that I heard almost every detail, told and retold from every side of hurt, and by the end of it, the sum of enough indirect effects added up into the force of a direct blow on me.
This went on for a long time, and after many, many months, something along the lines of an uneasy peace were drawn, with everyone losing friends in the drawing. Every single person involved in The Incident, no matter how tangential, got hurt. As the months stretched on, I hoped that the uneasy peace would become permanent; that every person involved would eventually heal, and that it wouldn't be spoken of again.
I was wrong—painfully, horribly wrong. Wrong on a scale that breaks my heart to even talk about. Wrong on a scale that caused me to lose sleep and stare out of quiet windows and ask myself if there was any damn thing in the world I could have done differently over the past couple of years to have somehow brought The Incident to any other conclusion but this devastating one.
The problem is that the answer isn't a simple "There was nothing you could've done, Amy." In twenty-twenty hindsight, I could have made an incredibly difficult and painful phone call to a person whose friendship I'd gradually lost over the years, and maybe that phone call could have prevented many worse things. I remember discussing the possibility of making that phone call back then, with two people I trusted, both of whom agreed with me that at that time it was unwarranted and excessive. The truth: at that time, it would have been. But in retrospect …
But in retrospect, many things appear different than they once were, and we are responsible for our own actions.
* * * * *
How do you reconcile it when someone you care about very much, with whom you have a friendship that you care greatly about, does an action that horrifies you, that you can't condone or really even understand? How do you talk about it, even under veiled terms, when you know that every person involved or aware (and yes, I'm also referring to the person in the previous sentence) reads your website regularly, even though they aren't friends with each other any more?
The latest flareup left me devastated. I drank many cups of late-night tea, made a lot of phone calls to the few friends who were aware of the situation, and literally cried on a few shoulders. I kept my hurt private, turned it over and looked at it from every angle, and eventually realized something:
I didn't do it.
It wasn't my fault.
Everyone involved was an adult, and me? I was just in the crossfire.
So I did something constructive for a change. I called friends who weren't involved. I started knitting a lot. I did a lot of work in the flowerbeds (and have had quite the ongoing sunburn for a while as proof of purchase). I started watching a few movies again, and tried to let the hurt go. Every time I came across the empty spaces in my life where the directly-involved friends had been, I tried to acknowledge it and let it go. Even though it hurt. Even though I thought of them every time I scrolled through my cell phone's directory of names, and saw the places where their phone numbers once were.
My hands still remember how many clicks it takes to get to a phone number that isn't in my phone right now.
* * * * *
I don't have an endpoint for this story, just the knowledge that summer has gotten hot, like the summers I remember back in Arkansas. Before we cleaned out the fence row between my parents' house and my sister's house, there was honeysuckle that grew over my head. Every summer, in the height of their bloom, I would pluck honeysuckle flowers from the vine and suck on them. If you did it right, each flower would give you a tiny splash of nectar that tasted exactly like the flowers.
Last week, I splashed around in the pool with Simon, my arms draped over the float toy, watching the light dance on the floor of the pool. When I got home, I walked out to the back of our property to look at our back hedge, to check what I thought I'd seen in the late-evening light a few days earlier.
Sure enough, there they were, amidst the bramble and the mess: blackberries growing wild in our back 'hedge.' If we're lucky, some of them will ripen before next weekend's July 4th party, and I'll share them with the friends who are coming over for food and fireworks.
I wouldn't call it honeysuckle simple, but it's a start.