Companions. The gift of friendship, togetherness, to know we’re not alone.
Steve brought me breakfast in bed this morning. I am having one of my cyclical let-downs, when I have wearied myself in contending with life and death and love and loss. We were discussing E.M. Forster’s novel “A Room With A View” when this came on. Hormones, of course, have everything to do with it as well. Lucy Honeychurch gets “peevish” when she plays Beethoven, and I get “peevish” reading Mr. Emerson’s speech on life and “muddles”. Steve gets Slavic and moody listening to Mahler, or perhaps he listens to Mahler when he feels moody and Slavic. We are beginning to know each other’s moods better and better. And I really believe we are lucky, blessed, in a state of grace in that we accept those moods and are not threatened by the most peculiar of them. That’s why he’s my best friend.
I’ve never had a lot of friends, and all of my best friends have been male. Maybe that’s because I grew up with 3 older sisters. I am a little suspicious of females. I have a feeling it’s because I compare myself to them far too much. A sly competitiveness creeps in and makes me uneasy. I pull away. With guys, I don’t compare. I can be ‘other’ and so can he. It seems simpler. It’s a mindset that should apply to females as well except for my own perverse insistence that it can’t. Growing up, I played with a boy who was a year younger than I and lived two doors down. We were best friends for 9 years. We played in the woods across the street. We played house and wedding, and he was always the bride. He had older step-sisters who kept being married off, and I think he found that really enchanting. I suspect he grew up gay, actually. I Googled him and found out a few pieces of information that might support that assumption. But it’s just an assumption. I know for a fact that at least one of my high school boyfriends came out after we broke up. What does that matter? I suppose I enjoy creative, artistic, sensitive male companionship. Jim was definitely my best friend as well as my husband, and that description could fit him, too.
Friends to suffer with your moods, enjoy the stuff of life, travel with you through adventures of all kinds. Old friends, new friends. Situational companions. Steve likes to imagine how he’d be if he were stuck in an elevator with a few people for hours. He would definitely skip the small talk about the predicament and enjoy a captive opportunity to get to know them really well. He’s kind of intense like that. Scares some people. Yesterday, I saw a news video about a policeman who crawled under a bus to hold the hand of a 24 year old woman who was run over and pinned. The photo of them together on the asphalt and his interview afterward just filled my heart. I know what it’s like to be so afraid and to just cling to another person for the reminder that we are never alone in our fears. We suffer together. We are interconnected. And if anything is God, it is there as well. Presence. Abiding. Being with each other. It is the ultimate ‘yes’ of living. Which brings me back to Forster and Mr. Emerson. “In his ordinary voice, so that she scarcely realized he was quoting poetry, he said:
“‘From far, from eve and morning/ And yon twelve-winded sky/ The stuff of life to knit me/ Blew hither: here am I’
“George and I both know this, but why does it distress him? We know that we come from the winds, and that we shall return to them; that all life is perhaps a knot, a tangle, a blemish in the eternal smoothness. But why should this make us unhappy? Let us rather love one another and work and rejoice. I don’t believe in this world sorrow.” Miss Honeychurch assented. “Then make my boy think like us. Make him realize that by the side of the everlasting Why there is a Yes — a transitory Yes if you like, but a Yes.”
Ah, Yes. To love one another and work and rejoice. Companioned. Who could ask for anything more?