Growing Up

March 7, 2008 at 2:13 am (Sweet sticky things, That's not funny...)

I couldn’t wait to be an adult, and have all the responsibility that came with it. I hated the stigma of being ‘just a kid’, and couldn’t wait until people took me seriously. I was an old soul at fourteen, tending to family business that had been my Dad’s job until a debilitating stroke took his speech, mobility and eventually his life. I did okay, but was never ‘good enough’ to be given full rein. Because I was just a kid.

At sixteen I got a driver’s license and the accompanying independence, and decided that was as grown up as I needed to be. For the most part, that’s where my mind has stayed. But every now and then I do something unintentionally grown up, mature and responsible, and it shocks me silly.

I got a phone call from an old friend today. Her two year relationship/marriage had ended this week. While I didn’t know her partner well, they made a cute couple and I was happy for my friend. But things have been rough for a long time, and after much anguish, they’ve decided to part amicably.

My friend sounds happy. We’ve been confidantes for quite a while now, and she puts up a good front, but I can tell it hurts her. She’s happy to have her freedom, but I know she loved her partner deeply and wished things had worked out differently.

So what’s the big deal? I can have my friend all to myself now. There’s no marital jealousy to factor in, no time she has to be home. If I wanted, I could make a pitch to make our friendship a more romantic one. As I sat thinking through the flood of thoughts and emotions after the phone call, instead of a euphoric “Yesss!” at the possibility, I just wanted to go back to the office and have a good cry.

I truly felt bad for her, and instead of taking advantage of the situation, I wished I had some magic power that could put the Humpty Dumpty of their marriage back together again.

There was a time when I’d be polishing my shoes, putting on my best game face and trying to move in for the kill. To be the first in line for that rebound. Can I mix another metaphor into this? For once, instead of putting my own wants first, I instinctively chose to do what’s best for her.

She doesn’t need another partner just yet. Wounds need to heal. What she needs is a friend, and I can do that. I’ve been doing it for years. To pursue a relationship any more complicated than what we have would be like asking someone who’d just had the cast removed from their broken leg to go for a jog. No matter how much you might want to, it would hurt and be messy.

So I will invite her to the movies once in a while. I’ll be near a phone if she wants to talk. I’ll stay close, but not too close. I will love her as I have since I’ve known her, but I don’t want to be the buzzard circling the remains of her marriage.

It always stuns me when I come to grown up conclusions on my own. Maybe I have learned a thing or two in my near-fifty years…

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