Every day we have is one day more than we deserve.
Did that sound really deep, Linc? Because the bad news is that I didn’t write it. It’s a line written by Joan Didion and her husband John Gregory Dunne when they were screenwriters on the movie Up Close and Personal. They didn’t even like writing movies, Linc. They thought it was a dumb job. I like them both as essayists and novelists; their contempt for writing movies is the kind of attitude one inevitably has toward the thing that brings the paychecks in only tangential relation to one’s calling. Anyway, want to know the worst part, Linc? Up Close and Personal is one of my favorite movies of all time. I guess it should be no surprise that I adore the very sort of Hollywood tripe that Joan and her husband loathingly took on for a living. To this day, sometimes in order to get through a day, Thomas Newman’s score plays in my head. And Celine Dion’s theme song — yes, she did one before “My Heart Will Go On”!
I hate Ally. Today she totally made fun of me because I quoted General Hospital on my blog. She called me an “old maid.” Just because I like soap operas! And romantic comedies! And Celine Dion! (Cut me some slack for the last one. Not all Celine Dion fans are old maids. Sometimes they are demons who are escaping from hell because they want to go to college, like that one time on Buffy…)
I don’t really hate Ally, of course. I never had siblings, so the way I interact with my best friends is how I imagine it would have been like to have siblings. Ally is like a sister to me. A sexy sister. The kind you want to rub oil on… that got really weird.
Growing up with just Pop and Ma, I also got to witness up close what it’s like for two adults living together trying to make a commitment work. That’s why living with Clara and her fiance was a no brainer for me, besides the fact that I’ve known Clara for twelve years now. Wow.
I’ve never been in a long-term relationship, much less lived with someone I was involved with. I guess at 30-years old that’s a rite of passage I ought to have gone through by now. So many of my friends have settled down, some into engagement, many in marriage, and more with whole families. They rent entire apartments instead of a room, or part of one, like I do. Sometimes they rent a house. And sometimes they own one.
I’m ready to be a husband, if not in practice then in lots and lots of theory and observation. These days, everyone seems to think they know all there is to the world: the things they think they should say, the gadgets that they think are necessary to have in possession. People want to become business majors as their first or second degree. They like to shout things that are neither right nor wrong, just very loud. No one seems interested in learning about each other, about how to process life one day at a time so that they will be ready for the next day after that, and thus life itself.
Today I found myself thinking of that line from good ol’ Up Close and Personal because I needed a sugary confection to pick me up like a good ookie. I have lately felt exhausted by the energy required to be with other people —to just be human.
It takes a lot of energy to engage customers.
It takes a lot of energy to befriend guys, hoping that maybe even one of them is Mr. Right.
It takes a lot of energy to reach out to old friends and spend time with them, remind them of how much they mean to you, and bring such revival that the old friendship is, in fact, just a plain ol’ good friendship all over again.
It takes a lot of energy to fill current friendships with such meaning that they do in fact last into old age.
It takes a lot of energy to run every day, and to dream, and to not be rude to the stranger ringing up your cookie even though you really don’t feel like saying even just “thank you,” much less smiling — an act that, believe it or not, expends a great deal of, yes, energy.
And that’s on top of the usual stuff: paying bills, doing laundry, figuring out if you should splurge on a name-brand body wash just this once instead of the watery one that works well enough but doesn’t have that ooomph you have to pay extra for, and if you can afford to part with those couple of extra dollars…
I had to recite that corny movie line to myself because I needed the reminder that the exhaustion from people, from life, outshines the alternative. For many years of my life, Linc, I kept to myself. Even though I had good friends growing up, like Mary, those friendships happened late and even then I was still a loner. I was always at home. Unlike you, I was not in team sports. I was not an outcast but neither was I popular. When I did leave the house, it was to be in school, where generally I drifted. It may have sounded like this is a letter of complaint, but the energy that I have to continuously save up and then spend again is worth the risks of investing in people. They are unpredictable. They are moody and they will turn on you. But people are also loyal and friendly, caring and sometimes loving, and without them being alone would truly be a very lonely thing indeed.