Friday, February 5, 2016

Sara's Musings, Dave's Loneliness

She looked out the window. Dave couldn't sleep again. She knew it. He didn't know, and she wouldn't tell him, but she could see just enough shadow through his window to know when he prowled around the wee hours of the night.

She sighed, and looked behind her at Steve, sleeping soundly in their bed. How did she get that lovely man? 

She wondered how Dave managed the loneliness. Especially the longing for another body. She remembered how he once reached for her, and she knew he could be insatiably passionate. Somehow it was hard to picture Emily as wild enough for the man she had known. But then, Emily had been sick when she knew her. Maybe there had been more fire in her before. It had been five years since she died. Sara knew nearly every move Dave made. Unless he was luring women to his furniture shop, or stopping off somewhere on his runs, he had been alone all this time. She could not have managed it. Since the night Dave had introduced her to the things a woman and a man did together, she had always had a healthy libido.

She shook her head. Not appropriate thoughts. She shifted focus. What about their strange link? She did not know when their emotions had become so entwined that he could feel what she felt. He had not told her about this strange connection between them. He had told Steve, after she had been in a minor fender-bender that gave Dave a horrific anxiety attack that matched the exact moment of her fear. She could not remember the details of the accident. It had not been long ago, but it had been quickly pushed aside when Steve called to be sure she was ok. To come through the door and be sat down and told another human being--even Dave!--felt what she felt was a bit much to take in.

It was made more confusing by the odd limitations on the link. He didn't feel everything she felt. It seemed only strong emotion came through. She had tried to question him, but he did not like talking about it. Now she wondered, not for the first time, what he felt when she was feeling deeply about her husband. If he felt her strong emotions, he probably had some very lonely nights in his little room when she wrapped herself around Steve for one of their long nights together.

Why did it only work one way? She had never felt any of his emotions. She wished she could. She still wondered what had happened all those years ago when he had sent her away. He didn't know everything about that time, even if he had felt the intense pain and grief she had lived with for years afterwards. And she would never tell him. Some secrets were best kept quiet. They had not talked about that time much, either, first to shield Emily in her last days, then because their friendship seemed to manage fine without addressing the past. But she wondered. If he had known her secret, would things have been different? If she had been able to sense his emotions as he could sense hers, she would have found a way to bring that time up so she could know if he had hurt at all from the rejection that had nearly driven her mad. Or maybe not. Since they had reconnected, Dave had proven a gentle and dependable friend. Would it rip at him to relive what she could only think of as his betrayal? If so, she could not subject him to that, even to fill the hole left from her loss.

She scanned her mind. She was not feeling anything particularly strongly tonight, except a wash of affection for her poor friend wandering in his empty exile. She hoped he could sense it. She closed her eyes and focused on a vision of Dave's face, willing him to feel her warm thoughts. When she opened her eyes, she saw his shadow move out of her line of sight, then show up outside. He was going for his run early. She turned and walked back to her bed.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Honoring Friendship

My book characters, Dave and Sara, have an unusually close friendship. They work together, they practically live together, and they have been through extreme adventures and traumas together. They love each other more than most couples do, but they are "just" friends.  Their friendship is certain, familial, and in spite of any other circumstances in their lives, unchanging. Dave begins dating, Sara is kidnapped, both are rendered helpless and permanently injured by a crazed stalker. But they can always be sure the other one will have their back.

Real life can be more complicated, or at least seem more so day-to-day. Friendship waxes and wanes, and sometimes ends. Lovers have expectations of each other. In all but the most dysfunctional love affairs, once the relationship is acknowledged on both sides, each one expects the other to continue to acknowledge and honor the relationship until it is formally pronounced dead. There may be anger, there may be divisions, there may even be violence, but until they say they are not a couple, romantic partners are considered together.

Friendship does not have such official recognition. Friendships can start abruptly, and end without warning--indeed, without announcement. Two or more people can bond over a shared circumstance or a common interest, or a common emergency, and remain friends for life. Or they can drift apart just weeks after feeling as close as family.

Somehow, it doesn't seem right. I have few truly close friends. Like Dave and Sara, once I give real, familial-style friendship, I am in it for life. When I grant someone that level of access to my life, I expect the friendship to last for a lifetime. The hurt to be cast aside, sometimes without even an acknowledgment that it is happening, is acutely painful. 

But friendships don't just end. As a more voluntary, less formal arrangement, they change. When you move, or go in or out of a romantic or work relationship, your friendships change too. Sometimes your time changes, and friendships don't pay bills or require the time investment of a marriage. So when something has to give, often it is the friendship that falls aside. My history has been to resist this change--strongly. To have the closeness, or time spent in a friendship diminish feels like rejection. A rejection rendered more painful because it may be completely unearned. The left friend may have been as loyal, as giving, as open-hearted as ever. The leaving friend just has had a change in priorities. They may regret changing the parameters of the partnership, but have no choice. They may not even realize it is happening.

Perhaps we cannot all be close friends forever like Dave and Sara. But perhaps we can honor our special, close, forever-friendships. When they need to change, we can talk to each other. Perhaps we can have a special meal, or event, to honor a friendship that may not be able to survive changed life circumstances. Like the end of a romantic relationship, an end or change to a friendship deserves the time to discuss. Friends need time to cry on each other shoulders, remember old times, and honor the times when their relationship meant the world to both participants.