Forgiveness – or the fine art of growing up

    The capacity of the human heart to handle the myriad of emotions life throws in its way never ceases to amaze me. The capacity of the human mind to accept change and to mature at every opportunity also surprises me. We are constantly learning to live with others, accepting that at whatever stage in life we are, there is always a constant. We fight, we say hurtful things, and we cause worry and headaches – just as those are done to us. I am not just talking the kinds of relationships that lead to the altar and vows and rice in the hair, toasts and too much drinking till sunup…I am talking about every relationship that is out there.

    Friends…I have a great example of a friendship that has lasted – probably mostly because of the distance we have between each other. Geographically, we are at a distance that can be covered by phone calls, marathon text sessions, emails, and once in a while, every few months, a weekend visit. This friend of mine has been through almost everything I haven’t. She’s the one who got married, has her perfectly precocious and pretty child, the high salaried job (straight out of college mind you), and her own car. I on the other hand have a bike. I do have someone who cherishes me to no end. No child – but that can wait. No matter what I studied in college (same subject as her) – I will never apply the skills that I forgot 6 months after graduation. So my job will never be the same level as hers. But in a way, I prefer the simpler job, the routine. Do I love her? With all my heart.

Mary Gonzalez's Facebook profile

    See, our story goes back to college. I met her there. She also had another friend, someone I would only call an acquaintance of mine at this stage of my life. They’re still friends, and I tolerate her. The three of us were constantly together, studying, flirting, partying, living the life of the city and being college girls. Through circumstances beyond her control, my friend ended up homeless in the city. Not having tons of cash at my disposal, but an apartment with a bunk bed, and on a separate floor from the landlords, I thought it was a great idea to sneak her into my room. I won’t go into gory details, suffice it to say we showered together to save on water and throw off suspicion. (This is highly different from my other roommate – we showered together “just because”…)

    We also had a male friend who would let her sleep over every other night, or every time I began to suspect we’d get caught. When we were too poor to afford a proper dinner, we would hunt every pocket, purse and corner of the room until we could come up with enough money for $2 fried chicken from the corner Chinese fast food place. Funnily enough, we always had money for cigarettes – I taught her to blow a neat column of smoke – only Milport menthols for us, thankyouverymuch!

    For a few weeks, we thought we had outsmarted my landlords, but damnit if the cleaning lady didn’t find a stray item of clothing that was faaarrr too tiny to fit me! Early one morning, we were busted. The wife knocked on the front door, my friend snuck out the back door, and the husband was waiting from the verandah out back… Whoops, that was the end of that - I had lost my apartment too…

    Eventually, our lives sorted out somewhat, and even though we didn’t share a space for the remainder of our years at college, we remained very close. The other mutual friend eventually shared space with me for a few weeks as well – but that was never the fun, wonderful time I had with my bestie. And so, life went on. When she was hired by the only company I could have only dreamed of working at, I cheered her on. I even walked her to the office on her first day, then turned back home to pack and move back to the island. An era was over.

    Slowly, I settled back into island life. Not having any luck finding a job with my degree, I languished at home. I could remember the first barbed comment, “Wow, big Computer Information Systems degree, and you’re doing the dishes and sweeping the floors…maybe you can invent a program that will automate the dishes…” There was a chuckle at the end of the sentence, but all I could feel was embarrassment. I also could remember thinking, “Yeah, it’s called a dishwasher, and that program’s been built.” I said nothing.

    We kept in touch, and there were a few dramas in our lives, but still, we remained friends. For a while, we were simply names in each others thoughts as life got in the way. But every time there was an opportunity to get together, we would. Her next comment that stayed with me until a few weeks ago came about when I went to the city to be with her. Without meaning to, or perhaps in her own way, she commented that I needed to really be careful about my weight and that I should start thinking about my health. Truvia-coat anything you want, but basically, when a comment like that is said out loud, it’s pretty hard to take back. She followed it up with a healthy serving of Grape Nuts with diced cantaloupe for my breakfast.

    I couldn’t get out of her place fast enough. I stored up the hurt, feeling as though I wasn’t good enough. When she seemed to be closer to her other friend, who happened to be skinnier than me, I felt that perhaps our friendship had reached a crossroads. Just the fact that I couldn’t even bring myself to tell her to go to hell made me think that we had drifted too much. So for a few years, I held it in.

    Flash back to recent months, when we reconnected once again. We’ve both grown in ways radically different from the other. Spending time with her, I learned so much more about her decisions throughout the years. Her acceptance of those who had hurt her made me realize holding on to the barbed comments of years before had to be released. When I listened to her recount the story of a less than perfect relationship that went awry - and how she took responsibility for some of the mistakes made - I knew then that what I had been holding on to for so many years was nothing more than a useless grudge. Imagine her shock at hearing my side of the story. We talked about it like the adult she is and the adult I struggle to be.

    After a few hours, it seemed she was stewing on the topic because out of the blue, she apologized for her insensitive comments. Having gotten it off my chest, I had forgotten about it. But her manning up and actually acknowledging my feelings over it blew me away. This is why a friendship can last. Because when one is too weak to be the bigger person, the other shows her how it’s done. I had nothing to forgive – saying it out loud was enough for me to get over it – but I certainly had a lot to learn. And again I’ll say relationships like these are what make us all better persons. So that friend of mine, who’s been through it all with me – I can say she’s a constant in my life. I wouldn’t change it for the world. (As long as she doesn’t serve me Grape Nuts cereal with diced melon…ugh!! ☺)

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