Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Best Friends

When I was a child, the concept of having a best friend was so important. One. single. Best friend. When mine and I grew apart in 8th grade, it was troubling, heartbreaking, and ultimately, not permanent. We loved each other as small girls, and re-met and loved each other again as adults - no longer best friends, but soulmates nonetheless.

Now, at the ripe old age of 58, I find myself with 3 best friends, two of whom I have known and grown with for over 35 years and one, surprisingly, a woman I met barely two years ago. (Clearly there is a correlation between the end of my marriage and the establishment of a new close friendships.) How lucky does a person get? And how is this possible without jealousy?

I have come to think of it similarly to how I faced the question, after having one child, whether I could ever love another child as much. Would it be fair to the second one? Boy, was that ignorant thinking, because I rapidly learned after my second child was born that the human capacity is not finite, that the heart expands and greets someone new with as much love for another child as for the first, and that experiencing love with two children was clearly a case of 1+1 = way more than 2.

And so it is the same way with my three best friends. I know I have very different conversations and relationships with each while I also know that I am deeply sharing with, supporting, having fun with, am delighted by, can cry with and laugh with, and am cared for by all. We each have others' backs unconditionally.

I've spoken to a couple of men about this recently, both of whom professed envy for the bonds which form among women while scratching their heads in wonderment. I ruined a couple of friendships, one permanently, one temporarily, after I was first married, as I didn't know how to balance the closeness of my women friendships with the closeness with my new husband. As I now hope and think about the possibility of someday being in another long-term relationship, I know I will never sacrifice my relationships with my best friends - and that I don't have to. This heart has room for more!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Isn't This Fantastic?

I met artist/designer/handweaver Patricia Palson at an art fair a bit over a month ago. At that time, I fell head over heels in love with this coat, an amazing show-stopper of a piece which fit me like a glove and begged for me to go home with it. I didn’t, but I’ve thought about it an awful lot.

What have gotten my attention are two things: What makes a piece of clothing just right for someone? And how much is clothing costume, representing who we wish we were?

My daughter will tell you that I have often been known to utter, “This would work in my other life” when I see clothing that is attractive to me but which serves little purpose in my life or lifestyle, which would likely be a purchase I would probably come to regret, or which exemplifies someone I wish I were but am not. You know, the clothes that you admire on someone who you fantasize has a better life that you have.

As I have aged, I have felt more and more confident about my style, and while proud of that, I recognize that I also fall into ruts. While dating a really exciting man last year, I bought many new dresses, busting out of that “safe and married” look I had cultivated over the years. The good news? Those dresses have remained a happy part of my wardrobe long since the romance ended, evidence that I wasn’t putting on a costume, but rather was trying out a part of me that had been submerged for a while and was dying to come out.

And as for this wonderful Patricia Palson coat? Yes, it IS me, albeit a me who goes to more exciting events than I really do and a me who makes more money than I do. Should I have an invitation to something spectacular which requires a statement-making piece of clothing, you can bet I’ll be on the phone with Patricia in a nano-second. But until then, it will have to stay, like a great crush, in my mind.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Second Chances

As I was looking at the show, "Second Chances", a delightful museum show at the San Francisco International Airport featuring work made from recycled materials, it occurred to me that this show capped a week filled with examples of second chances. Dresses made from Mary Jane wrappers, toys made from tin cans, and furniture made from bottle caps resonated with me in several ways.

At the Mingei Museum in San Diego, there was an electrifying show of quilts made by African American makers during the 20th century. These eye-dazzling quilts were all created from cloth which had lived at least one previous life, whether as workers' overalls, as a little girls dress, as an old wool coat, or as a precious satin hair ribbon. The women who created these quilts saw something new, a second chance, another purpose for the fabrics, and in their able hands, created splendors for the eye.

While in San Diego, I met with a few friends of my aunt, including a man who got a new lease on life with his quadruple bypass, a Holocaust survivor, and a 70+ year old woman who was head over heels in love with her new "boyfriend". Talk about second chances.

And then I thought about my own experiences of second chances, and realized that right now I am really living through a second chance, post marriage. I can't undo my past life nor do I want to; there are many good memories along with the lass good. I can't erase parts I regret, and sadly there is no making up for lost time but I am working like crazy to live my life differently, with purpose and responsibility rather than being a victim of circumstance living life as a reaction. Maybe that's why I respond so strongly to artwork created from re-purposed objects, embodiments of another crack at living.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

I am thinking a lot about lying today. Well, I am not actually thinking of telling a lie nor committing a particularly deceitful act myself today, but rather, am thinking today about why people lie and what trouble it causes.

The New York Times had an article about lying via modern technology, and how easy it is to lie via text. I was recently in a relationship where so much of the conversation was via text (perhaps a red flag in itself) and the texting included sweet nothings as well as lack of full disclosure, and/or avoidance ( "sorry, I have to go take a nap " rather than "sorry, I have other plans"). Needless to say, the article hit a nerve.

Why do we lie? I think it's pretty simple, because it is so much easier than dealing with the consequences of the truth. Early in my former marriage, I lied every day, saying that I was leaving work when I was really staying later, blaming my late arrival home on traffic rather than owning up to my lie, owning up to the fact that I wanted to stay at work, owning up to the fact that my husband's insistence on my coming home at a specific time felt suffocating. But really, did any of those lies do any good? I was still home later than he wanted, I was still frustrated with the dynamic, and a pattern that would ultimately strangle the marriage was forming through lies to myself and gentle lies to my husband.

But now, as I am dating and hoping that eventually I will form a new long term relationship, I am working hard on practicing truthfulness, both to me and to prospective partners, and I have no tolerance for these lies. Certainly, it seems that one should be able to hit midlife and be able to deal with the consequences of truth, albeit the sometimes messy, ugly truth.

Texting is convenient when a small amount of information needs to be conveyed and no conversation is necessary. But using texting to exclude the truth is cowardly at best, maddening and hurtful at worst. How can you know what to believe once you know someone has lied to you?