Monday, December 27, 2004

I don't own the clothes I'm wearing, and the road goes on forever.

Last Monday, my car froze shut. The lock wouldn't turn, and even the unlocked doors refused to budge. I was dressed in my gym clothes and ready to go, for I had big plans. I wanted to get my car to the garage, finish some shopping, and get the Christmas cards out. That way, I could spend Tuesday and Wednesday with family, relaxing, before going to my parents' homes on Thursday.

Shame on me for trying to plan. Clearly I was taunting fate, karma, kismet. I sat on the couch all day, obsessing about getting to the gym, trying to figure out how I was going to work out. I was so miserable and snippy, that after sniping at one friend on the phone, he called me back and calmly offered to drive me to the gym after work, drop me off, and pick me up in an hour. My mood increased 115% after that. My day finally started, at 7 pm. We decided to run by Target to get some shopping done, and when I got to the register with an armful of gifts, I realized that my debit card was in my pants, at home. And all of my credit cards had been cancelled for the lost wallet that wasn't lost, so I had no way of paying for any of them. Friend kindly offered to front the money. I hate, hate, hate taking money from people. (Don't get me wrong - I do believe that merely because I am female, I am entitled to fancy dinners and drinks from men. But that's different). He insisted. I refused. He insisted. I relented.

Then the next day, Tuesday, I was supposed to take another friend to work so he could go straight to the airport. Alas, my door stayed frozen shut until Tuesday afternoon, and so I had no means of transportation. We ended up taking his car, and it all worked out. And he also gave me the keys to his house, so I had a car and a house to use while he was gone. It was a mighty sweet ride, but all I did was drive to the gym and then to his house. Ain't no way I was going to get so much as a scratch on that car.

There are many people in my life, these two men in particular, who are my saving grace. When I was in college, I had a computer hacker that was doing some fucked up shit to my computer, sending messages to other people and making my screen go blank, then typing messages to me. I was convinced that my computer was possessed and that my hacker was coming to slit my throat. I had no idea what was going on, and I was terrified. I called friend #2, shrieking and crying hysterically. He came right over. Just two weeks ago or so, I had a mattress that miraculously did not fit anywhere it was supposed to - not in my house or in friend #1's house. Friend #2 kindly allowed me to move it into his basement indefinitely. Friend #1 lent his truck to me so I could move it. While they were moving the mattress, I joked, "I must be damned good company." With these two friends in particular, as much as I try to give, I feel like I do far too much taking.

When I was at Target, cursing repeatedly at my stupidity, Friend #1 assured me, "That's what I'm here for." He's driven me to the gym, as a matter of fact I'm on his gym membership because the single fee was too expensive; he's bought me brunch; he's dragged me to and from the airport; he cooks for me, and I drink his beer daily.
Me: "But I'm supposed to be the helper. That's what I do! I take care of other people. I can't be the helpee! I have to be the helper! I am not helpless! I do not need anyone's help!"
Him: "Yes you do. Just admit it."

I hate feeling helpless. I hate when my car doesn't work, or my cards don't work, and I'm left to the mercy of others. I've learned to cope in my own ways, but as a result of my dirt-poor upbringing, little things like that turn into huge emotional issues for me. When I'm not in control of a situation, or things don't go as planned, my only safety net (control) gets yanked out from underneath me. Particularly in issues of money - like my car. I hate feeling helpless because it reminds me that my reality is so fragile, that I could be homeless and unemployed in a second, that I have nothing to fall back on, and no one to rely on except myself.

Except, it seems, I do.

Two nights ago, I had an incredibly vivid dream. I was in some sort of dormitory common area. I lived in the dorm and had an hour to wait for someone to arrive. The part I recall most clearly is the moment at which I realized that my neighbor, a large, cut, blond-haired, blue-eyed man, had come to sit on the couch next to me. I was so sleepy, and nodded off. I was slowly waking up and realized that the neighbor and I were curled up together. He was lying against me, with his back to my chest. My arms were curled around him, and he didn't mind that my face was buried in his neck. I couldn't figure out if this had happened by accident, or if he really wanted me to be curled up against him. He was awake, and didn't mind when I moved, nuzzling my nose back into his neck and shoulders. He didn't move at all, he stayed strong, not shifting, or pulling away. In my dream, I was still sleepy, and while I was falling back asleep I was trying to come up with the word to describe how warm and happy I felt at that moment, and why I was so content. When I drifted off, I finally found the word I was trying to come up with - unwavering. My handsome blond was unwavering - he was strong, I felt safe and protected, and he made it clear that he wasn't going anywhere. When I actually woke up from this dream, that deep feeling of contentment stayed with me the rest of the day.

I work hard in positions that demand a lot from me, and I'm relentlessly working to help other people, most of whom also believe that they don't need help. And I try to work tirelessly until the work is done, until I've shown them that I respect them, that sometimes life just deals us a bad hand, and that my help isn't charity - it's genuine concern for them as the strong, amazing individuals that they are.
As much as I say that I don't want to rely on anyone else, the truth is, I rely so heavily on the people in my life. The key element of my perfect mate will be an individual who takes care of me, who can hold me up when I'm feeling vulnerable and just too tired to do it on my own anymore, but who doesn't make me feel like I'm less capable or intelligent. I've been looking for men like this my entire life. I want someone who will take care of me, someone who won't be ripped out from under my feet, someone who makes me feel like I can finally put down my weary load at the end of the day without losing face.

I guess I'm slowly coming to realize how much those roles are already filled by other people in my life. Particularly by these two male friends. Every time I think about moving somewhere completely different, and trying something new, or striking out on a difficult career path, my thoughts are based on an unconscious assumption that I'm strong enough to do it, because if it doesn't work out, I have places to which I can retreat. I can go back to my high school and college friends and regroup, because they know who I am and how I feel without me having to say a word. I can return to my law school friends and be welcomed with open arms and rowdy dinner parties with bottles of wine and a home-cooked meal. Karaoke and violent Trivial Pursuit optional. My dreams about moving away and starting over are tempered by my fears that I'll lose these connections if I do move. I am now fully realizing how much I need to let the people in my life know how much they mean to me, the specific and particular roles that each one plays in my life. As much as I try to give as a friend, to be there, to remember important days and events, I fear that maybe I'm taking too much. I'm never afraid to reach out for a sympathetic ear when I'm feeling upset or unsure of myself, and there's a chance that maybe my friends don't realize that it's important for me to be a sympathetic ear to them as well.

I adore my two darling, unwavering male friends. Perhaps it's almost bearable that this morning, my car froze open instead of shut. I didn't lock any doors, knowing that they freeze, and I treated the rubber around the doors with a silicon spray. Nevertheless, the driver's side lock must be frozen, because it won't latch closed now, and the door remains shut only through the grace and genius of a rigged bungee cord. And it's good to know that at least one of them, if I bitch long enough, will drive me to the gym.

After my bestlawschoolfriend's brother's death, I went looking for some stationery to write her a long letter about how I was feeling and how much I cared for her. I think my New Year's Resolution will be try to do that for other friends. Probably mostly the female ones, since the guys don't do so well with things like that. It's probably safe to say that my friends don't realize how my strength in my work and everyday life comes from their presence in my life. I think it's important that they should know. I'm going to continue seeking out my unwavering Adonis, but until then, I have far too many other people and things to put my energy towards.

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