Monday, February 20, 2017

In praise of staying home

My oldest friend had a long relationship with a divorced man who had a son. She spent a great deal of time with the kid, helping him navigate the shoals of adolescence. When she and his dad split up, she decided to move to Los Angeles.

The time in LA has not been kind to her. She's had health problems and financial problems, faced issues with her own children. Her hair has gone white and she's gained 60 lbs.

So when she got word that the son -- now 25 -- is getting married here in Chicago, she was conflicted. She cared about the kid and would like to share his Big Day with him. But, she said, seeing her ex would be "uncomfortable," especially if he's with another woman. Since the son is the groom, he wouldn't be able to spend much time with her, so she'd be adrift at a reception among her ex's friends and relatives. And she's broke. It would cost her a great deal of money to fly 2000 miles and rent a car and buy a gift.

And a hotel room because, as I told her, "you're not staying with me. That's how strongly against this I am."

I told her that it would not be uncomfortable, it would be torture. For it to rise to uncomfortable, she'd have to be able to show up  at the wedding as hospital CEO with Bear legend Jim McMahon as her date. There's no reason to do this to herself. She should just STAY HOME!

She snapped out of it and saw the wisdom in what I was saying.

Then it was time for me to be as smart with my own life as I am with hers.  I worked with a woman named Donna around the turn of the century. I liked her well enough, but we were never friends outside of work. When she moved to St. Louis, I never got so much as a Christmas card from her. Which was fine, because I never sent her one, either. People drift apart. It's the natural order of things.

She's going to be in Chicago in a few weeks and asked a mutual friend, Doreen, how to find "Todd and The Gal." I was amused that she thought of Todd and me in the same breath, as he and I were rather inseparable back in the day. About 15 years younger than me, he got married (though not to one of the girls I wanted for him!), had kids, and we drifted apart, too.

Anyway, instead of just reaching out to me and Todd, Doreen posted on Facebook that Donna was coming up and invited absolutely everyone to join her.

My Facebook feed was suddenly filled with names I never wanted to see again. People I couldn't stand. People who couldn't stand me. People whose absence has only made my life better over the last decade and a half.

I began to hyperventilate. I feel old and fat and professionally stagnant. I can't lose 25 lbs., become an agency CCO and snag Bear legend Jim McMahon in the next two weeks.

That's when my advice to my friend began ringing in my ears. STAY HOME!

Why do this to myself? Life is too short for the shit.





3 comments:

Kwizgiver said...

Great advice to your friend and yourself!

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

I don't often disagree with you. But I will and I'm qualified. The wedding is about your friend. It's about her son. And, very importantly, his bride. It is not about whether her ex has a hot date. If she does not got, she will never have much of a relationship with her child and none with his wife. She's just starting. The woman that I raised my kids with and I are not friends at all. But I sucked it up when she got married again and I was stag at family events at times. Was it uncomfortable? Yes. Am I glad I did it? Yes. And I could have made the dumb excuses your friend has. Too far. Too expensive. Too bad. I'd have given her a picture of what her lay ahead: Estranged and not invited. To holidays. To baptisms. To birthdays. It's only one freakin' day. Tell her I said to go. After she goes, "Who?" Tell her about a guy who's gone through it. The day may still suck for I've got four children. 5 grandchildren and 2 on the way. Tell her to ask a male friend to go.

The Gal Herself said...

Sorry, Bud, but you're Wrongy McWrongerson. First, the groom is not her son. He's the son of a man she dated and has seen once in the last five years. ONCE! When she was in Chicago last summer, she didn't make any attempt to see the kid. When he was visiting San Francisco two years ago, he made no attempt to see her. So it's not like she's going to suddenly be excluded from baptisms or birthdays or holidays in the future because she's not included in them now.

Also, the reasons I gave are not "dumb." She isn't broke, she's in debt to the IRS. Her health problems include a bipolar disorder that required weeks of outpatient treatment. The last thing she needs right now is to be put in a position where her moods will swing and send her in a downward spiral.

I suspect her wanting to go to the wedding is not really about the groom anyway. It's about her own son, who lives in San Francisco, and who is a world-class fuck up. High school dropout with anger issues. Working in a vape store and letting his mother -- who he's rather contemptuous of -- pay his legal bills and car insurance. The groom is a college graduate with a good job and a good woman and a good future. THAT'S why she wants to stick her tongue in this cavity is that she regrets the move to California and is tempted to wallow in what might have been. She shouldn't do that. It would serve no purpose.

Oh yeah, and she has NO male friend to take her. There's no one left in Chicago that she's close to except for this little ol' gal.

Yet, even though your are very wrong about my friend, I think what you said about sucking it up for the kids is admirable. Like I said before, you have integrity.