Good questions.

May 15, 2010

I picked him up in a parking lot.

That’s the story John and I tell when people ask how a fellow from LA (Glendale to be exact) and a woman visiting Portland from Tulsa got to be friends after the briefest of chance encounters one night in late September 2008.

Actually it was a valet parking/taxi line.   Once upon a time there was an elegant south Waterfront restaurant known as Lucier until a wicked restaurant critic wrote a poison pen review that closed its doors.

John is like a big brother, the best kind: Caring, wise, confident. He’s the kind of person you wish you could pop in your pocket and take everywhere.  From the lobby of the Wyatt, as I watched him getting out of his car on Northwest 12th Avenue,  I thought how I like everything about him, everything except maybe his choice in dogs (basset hounds) but I got used (even attached) to cats this year living with Judith during Tulsa visits.  All in all, John is pretty perfect.

One of the first things I learned about him is he has a practice of meeting at least 10 people a day, from which he’s sure to get a respectable quantity of quality contacts.  Want to go to the Oscars, looking for a hotel recommendation in Seattle?  You should have John’s number on speed dial.

“Were you falling short?  It was pretty late that Saturday night when I struck up our conversation. Had you not met your quota for the day?” I’ve asked him, when referring to why he emailed the following day.

After a couple of decades as a hospital administer, John now owns a search company, traveling the country interviewing executives for open management positions at hospitals.  Naturally, he is in the business of asking good (revealing) questions.  He even does it in a way that makes you feel you’ve found the answer without being asked the question.   I have an epiphany following each of our chats.

Late in April we were having breakfast at Lovejoy Bakery.

“I ask but I don’t know the answer.  They die on me.”  John said.  “But I have seen couples handle it lots of ways. Some make a firm rule:  no contact for six months.”

What John wasn’t saying is, “I’ve not really seen your approach before.”

John is happily into his second decade with a partner that still curls his toes, someone in many ways different from him… think classical music meets show tunes, scholar meets life of the party, pianist meets rower type pairing.   His is a “happily ever after” following the death of his first great love.

John was gently, but pointedly asking me about the wisdom of regular, social exchanges with Joel, and doubly so, but to a lesser degree, Jake.  Was it keeping me tethered to the past?  Was it having a negative effect on “moving forward?”  Friends come and go.  Many reconnect periodically.  I have never been involved in severing a relationship. I believe I’m still on good terms with everyone but the mean-spirited, incompetent school director that made Clay’s fourth grade experience a living hell for all three of us. Even we made no plan to never set eyes on each other again.  I’d actually like to see her once and slap her.  I can forgive injustices done to myself, never my child.

Acceptance, responsibility, appreciation and forgiveness.  When your brain and heart work together through these emotions I find anger gets crowded out.  And isn’t that the emotion that dictates harsh endings?

I have always recoiled at hearing a couple “spilt.”  With the intention of remaining whole versus fractured, maybe I have actually prolonged the healing process – removing the bandage slowly.   If I’d walked away sooner what moments would I have skipped?   Would important things have gone unsaid?

Thursday night after a closing tour of “Disquieted” at Portland Art Museum, I visited the gift shop.  There I came across a book titled “Dear Old Love.”  Compiled by Andy Selsberg from postings to his site of the same name ), the book features anonymous notes to former crushes, sweethearts, husbands, wives and ones that got away.

What has been left unsaid in your past?  Post it here. Maybe it will get read by the person it is intended for, maybe not.  I bet you’ll benefit from writing it.

Maybe these from the book will inspire you:

Touchdown:  I root for the Giants because of you.  My husband has no idea.

Rocky Road: I got fat after we broke up, but don’t let that swell your head.  It was more because I was working at the ice cream store.

Near Miss:  I wish I missed you, so I could do that instead of just feeling empty.

Go Figaro:  Thanks to the tragedy of our breakup, I now love opera.  But I cannot find anyone who will go with me.

Pet Peeved:  I don’t care that you miss my dog.  When you cheated on me, you cheated on him, too.

Nude For Nothing:  Your tepid response to my naked pictures means we are never speaking again.

Not Quite A Regret:  On one hand, I should have kissed you.  On the other hand, I’ve had thirty good years imagining that kiss.

Whatever has gone unsaid, don’t leave today unlived.  As always, Trix

4 Responses to “Good questions.”

  • wally Says:

    This is a nice piece Tracey. I’m thinking your friend John has never “unmet” any of his “10 a day” acquaintances. Yet, we so frequently cast aside forever some of our greatest acquaintances over sometimes grave and at other times silly injustices. Why? Do we hurt so because we opened our hearts and therefore have some expectation (never agreed upon by the other) that no pain will ever be inflicted on us by that person, unintended or otherwise? Is our ego bruised and therefor our embarrassment leads us to the point we cannot bear contact?

    I have come to learn over the last year how little we are taught as children and young adults about how to love and, just as important, how to move away from intense love. We are often left to enter the world of intimate relationships with an understanding only of the physical aspects of that magnificent space. We have “sex ed” (excuse me – Health) in school, how about starting Relationship Ed? God knows we could use some well considered instruction!

    I like your approach, stay in touch, even close, regardless of the fact that some if not all the intimacy has disappeared. However, I can’t say that I have been a practitioner myself of the stay friends approach. I am forging a “stay friends” relationship with the mother of my son, the woman with whom I spent 23, often happy years of my life. It is a work in progress. Other than this, it is fair to say that all the relationships I had prior to my marriage ended without any meaningful ongoing contact. I will not bore you with my “reasons” for this, suffice it to say they now seem ill conceived and trivial reasons at best.

    I have recently come to learn what what beauty and joy can be missed by not staying touch. By casting aside those finest relationships of our lives. No, if I had life to do over, I would approach this much differently and suspect my life would be much richer as a result.

    I guess this is a long winded way of saying, keep your approach alive. Six months is a long time to expect the threads of a wounded relationship to stay intact. And for what?

  • Trix Says:

    Wally: I am so touched by your response. And I agree – the lessons and stories we are told as children aren’t very helpful. I now see I clung to “happily ever after” much too long because that is the only story ending I learned.

  • Joseph Blanchette Says:

    Dear Tracette,

    I was emailing a mutual contact of ours about you, I told here that I lusted after you, and she suggested that I keep that up as you deserve the attention, and I agree.

    However I had a chance to think about this, and then I read this blog post where your close Male friend states, “…“I ask but I don’t know the answer. They die on me.” John said. “But I have seen couples handle it lots of ways. Some make a firm rule: no contact for six months” “I’ve not really seen your approach before…”

    Of course once we met it became quite obious to us both that while we enjoyed each others company and will most likely become quite good friends, it was obvious that you I operate at different frequency of Female / Male relationships.

    Like a hungry yard dog, I like to roll about in a Woman, munching, licking, roughing her, and devouring her to the point where she owns me, and I have her scent all over me, and THEN we may, or may not form a long bond relationship, become good friends, and even long time lovers for decades.

    You are not of this ilk (smile). I see you moving off into the this lost land of Men, you are keeping the known-Man in the background, just in case you run into Wolves, perhaps like training wheels, not so much a crutch perhaps, as perhaps just an old pair of comfortable wheels that you know you could do without, but refuse to let go of.

    We all have a Taste in a the opposite sex that can make the heart run, and I am not that flavor of the right Man for your (smile), my hunch is your Man Taste is something less “visceral” or “direct”, less sexual (though I am sure you ramp up just fine under the correct driver) (smile), I think your Man-Taste is cultured, erudite, relatively handsome (but you do demand perfect looks), successful to a degree, and within the same cultural-social-economic “class” as yourself, and those who you know.

    I am none of those things (smile).

    As a woman you maintain and radiate a level of classy-ness that I believe you look for within the Men that approach you as well. You are not a hungry wolfette seeking a feeding partner in the dim and loud places of the forest, instead you are a lovely Bird that is looking for Male with the right plumage and whose dance is just right to bring you closer.

    Take care my Tracette, and I look forward to the next time we meet.

    Sincerely, Joseph

  • Trix Says:

    Joseph: As much as I wear my heart on my sleeve and speak very directly, it still stops me in my tracks on occasion to learn how easily I am read and by male friends, no less! You are correct, I am not a yard dog. You’ll more likely me find me seeking open sky. Listen to K D Lang singing Skylark and you’ll have a picture window view of my spirit.
    Deserving or not, I am flattered by your attention. Thank you. T

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