A couple of old friends stopped by unexpectedly today. Rockford friends, people I've known since I was 15 & 17 years old, respectively. Once upon a time, I couldn't write of my Rockford friends without grief; they were all the walking dead. When I met them, they were babies. We were babies. And for years, I watched them all commit the world's slowest suicide. I left that town, left that group of people, not only for fear of what I might wind up becoming, but out of sheer terror at the sight of watching them all slowly devolve. Corey: so electric, oceanic and bold. Stew, with her fiery hair and attitude that has now been honed to such a sharply, lovingly pointed Truth. Eddie, our very own Ponyboy gone horribly awry for so many years. And now it is the same group of people - some, not all - who give me so much strength, who remind me of who I am, where I come from, the experiences that helped create who I am now, for better or worse.
It's so good to hear, from those who knew me at my worst, that even at my worst I was worthy of love, of affection and friendship. And to share those feelings with each other, to sit as adults, nearly two decades later, to see the people I recognize as my friends beneath the lines on each other's faces, the physical and emotional scars... To have accepted each other then and to accept each other now, to speak in the silent communication we're still so fluent in, despite years of separation, is so incredibly validating.
Some may say we never had it, that the friendships forged at that time were only based on a common interest in self-medication, numbing ourselves. I say that it's been 17 years since I met Corey, since I met Stew and Eddie, and the fact that we can still come face to face with such brutal and open honesty is the biggest and only affirmation of true friendship I need.
The last few months have been brutal. In January, I start a new schedule - four days/week as opposed to five - and I am so looking forward to having that time to reconnect with my daughter, to bring lunch to Jeff, to have coffee with Tracey and simply enjoy the simplicities of daily life outside the ER. This entire experience has been so illuminating and at the same time, so isolating.
Balance is what's on the menu for 2011, and so far, it's looking good. I'm turning myself inside out to get there. The innards are gross, they're a hot bloody mess sometimes, but we're getting there. All of us. My old family and new. Myself included.
It's all just part of the process, and the Process is never-ending. We bitch and moan and white-knuckle it through the bad times, but at least we have Time.