Selma and I are away in Monterey teaching our Destuckification Retreat, so this post is one I actually wrote several days ago.
It has occurred to me more than once — actually, about twice a week — that I have done something of an injustice to my friend who is dead.
It’s been a couple years since he killed himself, a year and six months and eleven days since they told me. It gets better. I don’t cry every day.
But the impression I have given of him here is one of sadness. And that isn’t fair. Or true.
I told you about the International Day of Borekas and Repression because I was the one who needed it.
And because, at whatever conscious or subconscious levels I was looking for signs of unhappiness with the world on his part. Some sort of reason or justification for why.
I have at least eight years full of memories of my friend who is dead. And the only one I told you about was the only one where someone could go to find a sliver of sadness.
And even then it was sadness tinged with funny. Even then, it was my sadness and not his.
Here is what I remember when I remember.
I remember happy.
A short skirt and a long jacket.
His last apartment. An unlikely little space in a kooky building in Neve Tzedek. From the broad rectangular window you can see all the way to the sea.
I’m cross-legged on the couch, making notes for a yoga class I have to teach the next day out in Ra’anana and not wanting to leave Tel Aviv.
We’re listening to Cake — the Comfort Eagle album.
And he’d just bought it and he’s over-the-top joyful about the short-skirt-long-jacket song. Jumping around. Singing along. Clapping. With that grin of pure delight.
I want a girl with a mind like a diamond.
I want a girl who knows what’s best.
I want a girl with shoes that cut and eyes that burn like cigarettes.
And I kind of never got into that album because my ex-husband had absolutely loved it, and anyway I’d been deep into the yoga thing and listening to nothing but mantras in Sanskrit for at least a year but I was there and for the first time I really heard the song and it was perfect.
We both have a day off at the same time and of course it is absolutely vital that we go have hummus right this second but how often do you get just the right hummus day so we have to go to the really good hummusiya.
If it were early in the morning we’d go to the old Syrian guy in the shuk but it’s afternoon so we’re going to that one hummusiya in Yafo.
And we drive. For some reason. I can’t remember why he had the car.
The place is packed because it’s always packed. And the guys who work there are seriously happy to see him because everyone who knows him is happy to see him always.
I make him order extra zchug because I’m not in the mood for the usual “oh look the white girl thinks she can handle the spicy” jokes. And he gives me his. And we’re happy. Because day off + hummus + everything is good.
And everything is funny.
We’re at the bar I used to work at. When I was still working at the other bar.
Between the two of us we probably know everyone there.
And for some reason, everything is funny. We’re actually laughing so hard that it’s difficult to breathe.
Lots of things are hard for me. My divorce. Money scariness. Whatever the latest crisis du jour is.
But right then everything is funny. Made more funny by being bearable, and more bearable by being so funny.
And I remember things other than HAPPY.
I remember concern.
Like when there was a terrorist attack across the street and no one knew what was happening and everyone was freaking out.
My friend was the one who took control of things, who made the calls to find out what was going on, to let people know I was okay.
About me, of course.
Ending up at this complete dive in south Tel Aviv. There was live Greek music and total drunken chaos.
It would have been my wedding anniversary except for the divorce. And apparently my plan of Private Bitter Moping was not acceptable to my friend, who knew that live Greek music at a dirty hole in the wall was going to help. It did.
Also, I knew half the people there because it was all old guys, Moroccan cab drivers and Iraqi fruit sellers, who tended to frequent the same kinds of semi-disreputable places where I invariably worked.
I remember making a toast to something. Knowing that it wasn’t going to hurt so much.
And of course the general existential angst of being in your twenties and not having plans.
All the wondering you do about what you’re going to do with your life and with whom, if at all, and for what reasons and how any of it was supposed to work.
For my writing that I refused to tell anyone about. Standing up for me at work when my boss was being an ass.
And not getting along.
We had the hugest fight once. And then some non-fights that were really fights. And then months before we could really work stuff out.
Oh, I can see him disappointed. And annoyed. And frustrated. And anxious. And upset.
And getting along again.
We fixed things. I can see relief. And forgiveness. And caring. And respect. And love.
I remember so many things.
Here’s the thing. My friend who is dead was quick and funny and loving and bright and enthusiastic and ridiculously talented.
I remember him in so many ways. I remember him being energized and I remember him tired. Contemplative. Happy. Listening. Upset. Distracted. Silly. Curious. Busy. Bored. Teasing.
Inventing a song. Cleaning. Resting. Coming. Going.
But not sad. Not depressed. Not someone who didn’t genuinely like being alive.
I get that there may never be a why. That it’s just going to be my own learning to stop asking for reasons, to stop looking for things to blame.
And my memories are full of good.
Memory and coming back to what was.
This isn’t me choosing to remember the good stuff. It’s not me choosing the good over the hard. That’s not what’s happening.
It’s me remembering what was. Or, what was for me.
And what was is rich and layered. My what was covers a broad spectrum of emotions and experiences.
My writing about sadness was one tiny corner. Maybe not even noticeable in the frame. It was where I needed to go when I needed to be there.
I remember sitting on the roof.
I remember doing Dance of Shiva while the sun was setting over the Mediterranean.
When I do Dance of Shiva now, I remember that it is the dance of anger and the dance of joy. And the dance of remembering.
When I let everything move, I can remember loss and I can remember pain and I can remember that everything is beautiful.
Comment zen for today
What I don’t want
I am not looking for advice. In fact, I have already given what I need to receive, in the form of these tiny bits of wisdom.
What would be useful
Love. Time. Space. A cup of tea.