Saturday, January 15, 2005

Rendering our history insignificant

I’m generally pretty resilient to injustice and mistreatment.

I can take a lot. I’ll gladly look past a no-show or an unnecessarily bitchy comment or a missed birthday acknowledgement. Friendships are not deemed null and void as the result of a single incident. I’m forgiving. And a bit of a pushover.

My 7th-grade-through-high-school best friend, Heather, did plenty to hurt me. She ridiculed my junior high chic. She quit a soccer team we joined together. She liked the same boys I did. She was critical of my house. She latched onto the new girl at school and, for a period, forgot I existed. Petty things. Kid stuff. I kept my chin up, pretended that I wasn’t angry, overlooked it all.

After high school, Heather and I attended universities six miles apart. During our freshman year, we would see each other. As sophomores, our primary interaction came over the phone and via email. By March of our junior year, our contact was infrequent but genuine. We hardly saw one another and we spoke at infrequent intervals, but we still cared.

I still cared, anyway.

My grandmother died, unexpectedly, at the beginning of the March of my junior year. Her death broke me, yet I made a great effort to mask that fact. I blinked away a lot of tears and I forced energy into normally effortless tasks that, in grief, seemed insurmountable. I feigned strong because my family needed strength.

A week after my grandmother died, I called my friend Heather to tell her. I told myself that I was calling Heather because I thought she would like to know – Grandma took us shopping for homecoming dresses and drove Heather and me to more than a few soccer games and practices – but, really, I was calling because the intensity of my mourning was suffocating me. I needed to talk. Heather was the only one of my friends who had known Grandma.

Heather answered the phone. I asked her how she was. Partially out of habit, partially because the cottony words collecting in my mouth seemed too heavy to heave into a fresh conversation.

Heather told me how she was and asked me the same. Typical conversation etiquette.

I bit my lip. I dropped my head. And I told her that my grandma had died.

“Oh.”

I waited for more. Gave her time to formulate an expression of sympathy. I was patient.

Heather launched into a story about her boyfriend.

And I can’t forgive her for it.

I didn’t want her to cry. I didn’t want her to offer to hold my hand. I didn’t want a card and flowers. I didn’t want anything from Heather except for her to acknowledge the life of my grandma by saying that she was sorry.

But she didn’t.

And I can’t shake it. Two years later, the scab still hasn’t formed. I mostly doubt that it will.

When we talk – ridiculously superficial conversations born out of the habit of corresponding on our birthdays – it’s all I can think about.

Memories of our friendship have been reduced to one phone call.

5 comments:

Plantation said...

First of all, are you watching the skating? Of course you are.

I lost my grandma in '99 over a sudden illness. She would have been 100 on Tuesday. So I know how you feel. I also know your feelings of hurt and disappointment over the phone call.

Belive me girl, I've been there. I've felt the hurt and the unableness to forgive and forget. It's a flaw, really because if you accumulate thise feelings over the course of a lifetime, you'll find yourself overweighted with this baggage.

This was me to a tee. Until this year. I had too much baggage and decided to forgive and forget. And you wanna know something funny? I actually felt better about it. I felt like the baggage was lifted and I just felt mentally better. Lighter. Happier. Freer. Ahhh.

But hell, it took me 42 years to do this. I'm not suggesting you do it now. I know you still hurt. But there *WILL* be a time to reflect. And I hope, at whatever time that is, that you'll be able to drop the baggage.

And you thought I was just some dorky and quirky clown.

PS Michelle Kwan did not deserve all those 6.0s. C'mon judges...

A said...

Kwan was the rightful winner, but she obviously didn’t deserve her 6.0s (and she realizes that). I wouldn't have given her 6.0, but when you give Cohen a 5.9 for her (flawed) program, then Kwan essentially has to be given a 6.0. A couple of the judges assumed her performance would be worthy of 6.0s and boxed themselves in.

The problem with the 6.0 system is that judges can only give a score to one skater. A judge can’t give out two 5.9s for presentation or two 4.8s for technical. It’s what Dick and Peggy mean when they say that judges are “leaving room” and that’s the reason why it’s less-than-ideal for a skater to skate earlier in the competition.

Too much information, eh?

Plantation said...

Ahh, but you underestimate me, my dear. I know exactly what 'leaving room' is all about. Do you know I've been (male almost afraid to admit this in terms of both his age and his admitting fondness of women's figure skating) watching women's figure skating long before you were born? '72 was the first winter olympics I watched. Janet Lynn was the IT girl. Then it was 76 and bigtime Dorothy Hamill. I think it was Linda Fratianni or something like that in 80 and maybe Debi Thomas in 84 when Miss Witt was in charge. Hmm, who am I missing? Tania/Nancy was '92, right? Somewhere in there was Nicole Bobek. Sarah Huges and Kwan, Kwan, Kwan. I missed Peggy in 68 but have seen footage. It's sort of sad, but I think I'm fairly close to the judges in scoring. I agree, Sasha's marks (skating term!) were too high as well which, did of course, force the judges hands. That Canadien (Canadien spelling)/Russian Olympics fiasco sucked, too.

PS I can't really handle the men's skating. I do watch it though.

PSS OK, one last stab at skating knowledge. I know most jumps are done backwards, but there's one that's done forwards. Is it the Axel?

Are you dying laughing yet???

A said...

Dying laughing? I'm impressed as HELL!

1988 and 1992 was Kristi Yamaguchi; 1994 was Tonya/Nancy. Bobek skated at the 1994 and 1998 games.

Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze deserved the only gold medal in Salt Lake City, but that rant (and the drama the double golds caused in my life) may deserve a post of its own.

You're correct; the Axel is the only jump with a forward-edge takeoff. Because of that, it's usually the easiest for a layperson to identify.

Plantation, I am shocked and awed. Way to be a skating fan, bro.

Plantation said...

Hell, I'm equally impressed the way you rattled off my missing and incorrect skateology. Ahh, I was missing Kristi. She was good. I also remember this girl back in the Witt era, I think, who invented this move where she kinda reached her leg over her head. Denise Bielmann or something close to it. I think they even named that move after her. You with me (of course you are)?

Peggy still looks great after all these years. She's really classy.

I was hoping Sasha would come of age. I guess she's close, but can't seem to get over the hump.

So you think the Russians deserved the gold in SLC? Huh, I didn't see it that way. If I recall, I thought their program was very conservative. But I'm no tekkie like you are who can really scrutinize jumps, footwork, etc.

I'm guessing you've skated competitively? Ever have Olympic dreams? Ever been close?

Imagine you're a big Red Wing fan. Well here's another shocker for ya. I used to work for the Buffalo Sabres. But that's a loooooong story!

 
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