She is sitting next to me. Just close enough for me to say that she is sitting next to me. But not too close. That seems to be how things work with her. Always close enough, but not too close. She closes her eyes and listens intently. She nods her head with the music, or stares into her lap, or offers an approving smile at the performers. She’s trying to be present, to be in her body, to connect with what is happening. Here and there, the elements touch, but they are splayed out, twisted and poking out of their casing. The electrical tape wasn’t enough to contain her fraying wires.
Maybe I’m the only one that’s looking. Or maybe I’m just the only one that’s seeing. The top layer is: she’s got her mind on her work, the business of developing someone else’s idea into a tangible, visible, audible entity. The next layer is a person, and it’s complicated. Maybe it’s saudade – a mixed feeling of love and longing for someone or something that is gone. Underneath it all, the trouble she has is with herself, but she’ll never admit it. Never. After disappearing for a minute, she returns to gather her things, put on her coat, and rush off before anyone (but me) notices that something is amiss. As she hugs me goodbye, she won’t allow herself to take my warmth with her. She is so full of so much wanting to and not doing.
This isn’t about sex. No. It’s about friendship. It’s about intimacy in friendship. I want to tell her that she shouldn’t be afraid, that I will not drop her. I know there are lots of pieces. Anyone else might let some slip through their fingers, but I won’t. Maybe that’s a lot to promise. Somehow, I just know that I can handle whatever it is she’s holding back. I’m not afraid of what’s inside her. She just needs to be brave enough to let someone else look at it. Maybe it’s not about bravery, maybe it’s just not what she wants.
I’m trying so hard not to say, “You can talk to me, whatever it is, you can trust me.” And. “It’s not good to bottle things up, just tell me what’s wrong.” I’m trying so hard not to ask, “Why don’t you have any close friends? Doesn’t everyone need at least one close friend?”
I’m doing it, too, bottling things up. Will you be my friend? Will you open your door and let me inside? I’ll keep all your secrets, if you let me. In time you’ll see that, as long as you have a pure heart, I take the good with the bad. I’ll cherish every joyful shout, every tear, every success and every failure. You can even tell me if I’ve hurt you. And I hope you will.
But I can’t make someone build an intimate friendship with me, as much as I may desperately want it.
She is sitting next to me. Just close enough for me to say that she is sitting next to me. Just close enough for me to feel the electric charge sparking off her fraying wires. But not too close.