Thursday, April 22, 2010

Memorials and Memories

I've been having a contemplative week... a little depressing, a little uplifting... awash in memories of what was and what might have been, along with thoughts of what's yet to come. Last Saturday, I attended a memorial service for Barbara, a friend of over forty years. It was an intense day, full of bittersweet memories, and reunions with people who were once very important players in my life, from whom I've drifted apart, and whom I realized I've missed. I know it's in the nature of friendships to ebb and flow - wish it didn't have to be that way, but it just is. Barbara and I "grew apart" as friends about ten years ago for reasons that now seem petty and neither make sense nor matter today. There's nothing I can do about it now, and that's the bitch of it all... death is so fucking final.

Friendship is a strange phenomenon... so much fuss is made about how important it is (or should be) in our lives, but, so often, we treat it so casually as to be embarrassing. How does that happen? We move away from each other, we develop different interests, one or both get married, have kids, get new jobs, come into money, go broke, have some stupid disagreement - lots of stuff comes up to make life different for one or the other, and the drifting starts. In the end, I guess there's nothing seriously wrong with the drifting... it does seem kind of natural in the long run. But then, when you run into old friends, you often experience a longing that things could be the way they used to be, with the happy, fun, funny, crazy, exciting and meaningful stuff we remember doing together. This is especially poignant when you run into those old friends while celebrating the life of another, mutual friend.

Barbara and I met when we worked in one of the labs at UCSF. Our friendship was immediate and energetic. We were both a little nuts, and bounced off each other well. We were rabid opera fans, and her sisters chose to play opera CDs before and after the memorial service. POW! Hearing all of that glorious music hit me squarely between the eyes and brought back floods of memories of fantastic performances we'd seen together at SFO, and Sunday afternoons hanging out, getting sloshed and petting cats, while listening to one or the other's newest opera recording. We both loved to sew and spent hours at fabric stores pouring over pattern books and bolts of fabric. She sewed much better than I - her garments were always so professional looking and patiently crafted, while mine were usually thrown together without much regard for following the proper steps of the pattern. She always complimented my creations, though, I'm sure I saw more than one sideways look and raised eyebrow in the process. We both loved cats and were both a little sappy over our furry babies. Barbara loved to travel and could afford it. I didn't care to travel, and couldn't afford it anyway, but I spent lots of fun hours listening to tales of her travels and hearing about foreign Opera Companies and museums she'd seen. We liked to pile in the car and drive off to points undetermined - usually to a beach somewhere where we sat in the car drinking, talking and watching sunsets and listening to KJAZ. Our love of artichokes and garlic was vast, and we often went to the Watsonville Artichoke Festival and the Gilroy Garlic Festival and stuffed ourselves witless, then came home with sacks of the prickly globes or stinking rose to dream up new concoctions with which to further stuff ourselves. Tons more memories of eating out, horsing around, getting blasted, smoking pot and eating an entire cheesecake in one sitting, talking, arguing, swapping boyfriends then picking them apart... silly, stupid, dumbshit fun.

So what happened? I know, but it doesn't matter now... it just happened, and the friendship began to unravel, and finally ceased to exist. I'm sorry now, but, like I said, now's too late. Hopefully, I won't let it happen again.

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