I have a team of people who build me up and always stick up for me even when I don’t think they should. After we divorced, my ex-husband remained a member of my team. I remember telling him about an incident I had when I was a long-term substitute school teacher. His response was, “They are just jealous.” It probably wasn’t true, but the fact that he thought so was soothing balm on my hurt feelings. Marsha, my friend for 30 plus years and the manager of the front of the house at Adama is like that, too. Even though I have, in my attempt to speed her along on her learning curve, been hyper-critical, whenever anyone says anything negative about me or the restaurant, she immediately jumps to my defense. I can get teary now thinking about it. And Erubiel, my cook? If it is really slow, he secretly logs out and just keeps working. Once I showed him a photo of someone who I had a sort of crush on, and he made the sourest face. He is like a family member who thinks nobody is good enough for me. And he goes beyond the call of duty without being asked. My sister acts like everything I make is magic. And my daughter always seems to know what I need, emotionally and materially, without me asking, which I am not very good at. And I know that my son always has my best interests in mind even though he doesn’t sugarcoat anything. My brother will indulge me with the same funny stories that I ask him to tell me over and over. I probably could survive without the love of the people who I just mentioned, but I wouldn’t want to. I hope you have a team. But I think it is equally important to be a member of one. I want my beloveds to know that I am on their team. In their corner.
After the most challenging year of my life, here is what is on my mind….
I would rather sleep soundly than get the last word in and later toss and turn regretting my sassiness. There is no real reward in being a comeback queen.
I have been thinking a lot about friendship. I think that people throw that word around too much. Once someone told me that a certain famous actor was his friend. When that celebrity came into my last cafe, I said, “Oh, we have a mutual friend.” He didn’t recognize the person’s name. Hmm. Sometimes someone will call Adama and request something from Marsha or one of the servers, and tag on the words, “I am a friend of Deeahna.” We can discern those pretty easily, since my name apparently presents a challenge. If you don’t know how to pronounce it, reasonable to assume we are not friends, at least not by the definition that I am about to put forth.
I think that a person is like a parcel of land. This parcel might have on it several houses. Some of them are old, solid, with tall, century-old trees and might even be a little haunted, at least in appearance. Some are not quite as old. If you are my age, the old ones might be 50 years old, and if you are invited in, childhood trauma awaits you. Another one might be only half that age, and house all of the highs and lows of my marriage and divorce. I think a lot of them are built in our teen years. Also on this parcel of property, there are empty plots of land. These can be surrounded by fences, have no trespassing signs posted, or ones that state “danger-mine field.” And a few are just open meadows. Anyone can walk through. Access to these houses and plots is either granted by the owner, or acquired by shared experiences. If we grew up together, you might have the key to the really old ones because you were there. Or I might just open the door and let you in. The degree to which someone is a friend has to do with the access that has been granted by the owner and by what you then do with that access. If you understand where the mine fields are and know enough to tread lightly….friend. If I open some of those doors and draw the curtains for you, and you respond in turn…..friend. But if you are just walking around the public access areas, or if you are jumping around the land mines with little care, or if you keep walking through the doors I open but never open any doors of your own, well, we simply know of each other. Personally, I look for the people that, when I give them the key, I can trust them with the contents of the house. And those people know that the no trespassing signs do not apply to them. The degree to which someone is another person’s friend has to do with how many keys are held and how many of the houses, including the dark corners of the old, scary ones, you have walked around in, and maybe even helped to tidy up.