“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.

Flying By Night novel

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 another  person happy, The Treat definitely beamed a little sunshine 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.


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