Sunday, September 14, 2003

David asks the hardest questions.

I was fantastically happy to hear his voice on the phone yesterday. David! Where the hell have you been? It's like he came back from New Zealand and then just disappeared into a rain cloud out in Oregon somewhere. Best friends aren't supposed to do that. I feel like I've been one phone number, one address behind him for the past two years, and I'd all but given up on him at this point.

No matter. Totally doesn't matter. I'm just happy to have him alive and well and back in my life. And it's like this. He apologizes for not staying in touch: "Well, Susanna, I was going to call you, but I wanted to surprise you and tell you I passed the Oregon bar, but then I had to postpone taking it until July, and I just heard, I passed!" My god, I'm happy for him. I've never seen anyone work so hard for so long. Someone should write a book about his guy, he never gives up. And he never gets bitter. If someone builds a wall in front of him, he just steps back and considers, "Hmm..I could go over it, around it, or through it. Which would be most efficient?" and then he does it. I would have just taken my toys and gone home. Not David. He is just an amazing, amazing man. Oh, look....I'm gushing. "But wait, Susanna," he continues, "that's not all! When I passed the bar, the firm at which I've been working offered me a partnership." Fantastico! And he's living on an 11-acre ranch outside Eugene. And he has a girlfriend. And life is just perfect.

And man, I'm pleased. Pleased that everything is working out for him, but mostly just pleased to hear his voice again. I'd forgotten how much I loved him.

But I'll admit, after celebrating his success, I almost just shined one on when he asked me how things had been gong. I could have told him it couldn't be better, that I'm happier than I've ever been. But it never pays to lie to your lawyer, does it? So, I told him the truth. That I've been feeling a little unsteady. That I just feel like I should be handling everything better. That my career is a disaster area, my father is dying, I've been feeling desperately short on time ever since Mark died. That I felt like I should be doing better than this. People cope with more than this every day, but why can't I?

David has not changed one bit. He can transition from lawyer to friend to therapist in the space of a second. He said a lot of stuff last night, but probably the most important was, "Susanna, if you look at where we started 20 years ago, and where we are tonight, you will be forced to admit you have done an amazing job with your life." There was more to his speech than that--because I always take some convincing--but he's essentially right. The difference between me at Point A and me at Point B is astounding, something that he could see and I easily lose sight of. And that's one of the benefits of long-term friendships, you can look at your history through someone else's eyes, someone that's traveled most of the way with you.

Somewhere in this conversation, though, he asked me about how I felt about the way I lived my life. Did I have any regrets? David, show me someone who says they have no regrets about their life, and I'll show you a liar. Okay, we all have regrets, but what's your biggest regret?

I can only stall for so long before he makes me answer a question. The saddest part about the whole thing, though, was I didn't have to think about it at all, I was just buying time in hopes of not having to answer, not because I needed to filter through my life. But I eventually had to answer.

David, my biggest regret in life is that I arrived at my adulthood already damaged. When we met, when we could have just been enjoying a spectacular friendship, it was already too late for me. Wouldn't it have been great if you, me and Stepan could have just hung out and had a blast? Wouldn't it have been great if you two didn't have to babysit me all the time? My biggest regret is that by the time I figured out how to put myself back together and become a whole person, my youth was already gone, and none of us ever got to enjoy it. I can't get that time back, and I hate that. I am happy with what I've managed since, but I can't help but feel regret that I didn't work it all out sooner, and that I had to work it out at all.

I am fortunate that David saw a future in our friendship. Actually, I'm fortunate that he saw any type of future for me at all, because in many ways it was his hard work that made my future happen. And all I can say is thanks, and I love you, and I'm very glad to have you back in my life.

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