“The Treat” Me Right
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Burn.
My relationship with The Treat doesn’t fit any other model, and maybe that’s what makes it so special.
Since I asked him for his number last Fall and we had that first amazing Life-Death-and-the-Universe talk in December right after we both found ourselves divorced and starting over, our friendship has reminded me of a great river— sometimes thinning, sometimes opening wide, sometimes surprising us with sudden turns and rapids and rocks, and other times beautiful and serene and safe, but always twisting and changing and deepening and moving ever forward.
We’ve had a lot of talks that helped each of us to heal without getting into the kind of parasitic relationship where we spent our time rubbing our wounds together. We’ve seen each other at our worst, and I hope we’ll get to see each other at our best. Life is, at least, moving in that direction for both of us as we work to establish our own separate and happy lives.
Though I don’t believe any one person can make an- other person happy, The Treat definitely beamed a little sun- shine into an otherwise dreary day yesterday. For almost eight hours, we talked off and on, running the gamut of topics and emotions. Humorous, naughty, sarcastic, competitive, sweet, tender, and very caring. I’m touched that we can have this kind of dialogue, even though I haven’t seen him face-to-face in a while.
As we talked, I tried to imagine what he looks like now and if his hair has gotten longer on top and if his eyes still sparkle when he’s happy. He did sound happy, at last.
What surprised me most while we talked was a vehemently cynical debate on whether work and relationships are all forms of prostitution. It was a fun yet maddening discussion, but I didn’t back down, he didn’t pout or stomp away, and he didn’t insist on being right at the risk of insulting my intelligence, my belief system, or my background. The debate ended in a draw but far beyond the outcome were the feelings I’m left to ponder. We disagreed, and it was okay. He never shut me down and walked away or made fun of me, and so I felt heard.
Amid this debate, he offered on a separate issue the emotional support I have longed for. It startled me, though it shouldn’t have. Not with him. I was supportive when his life turned overwhelmingly toxic and now he reciprocates, telling me he’s “always here and honored” to lend a listening ear.
So while our debate surprised me, what touched me most was the evidence yet again that our friendship is about these streams of kindness we bestow on each other, delightful and alluring. These streams of kindness feed the river of our friendship and make the water—regardless of the river’s path or the obstacles in it—a place where I like to be.
I don’t know where this river runs, but I can’t seem to stop dipping my toes in it and sometimes wading far out over my head.