â€œThe Treatâ€ Me Right
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Burn.
My relationship with The Treat doesnâ€™t fit any other model, and maybe thatâ€™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, Â our Â friendship Â hasÂ reminded Â me Â of Â a Â great Â riverâ€” sometimes thinning, sometimes opening Â wide, sometimes surprising us with sudden turns and rapids and rocks, Â and other times beautiful and serene and safe, but always twisting and changing and deepening and moving ever forward.
Weâ€™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. Weâ€™ve seen each other at our worst, and I hope weâ€™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 donâ€™t believe any one person can make an- other Â person happy, The Treat definitely beamed a little sun- shine into an otherwise dreary day yesterday. For almost eight hours, we talked off and Â on, running the gamut of topics and emotions. Humorous, naughty, Â sarcastic, Â competitive, Â sweet, tender, and very caring. Iâ€™m touched that we can have this kind of dialogue, even Â though I havenâ€™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 heâ€™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 Â prostitution. It was a fun yet maddening discussion, but I didnâ€™t back down, he didnâ€™t pout or stomp away, and he didnâ€™t insist on being right Â at Â 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 Iâ€™m left to ponder. We disagreed, and it was okay. He never Â 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 shouldnâ€™t have. Not Â with him. I was supportive when his life turned overwhelmingly toxic and Â now he reciprocates, telling me heâ€™s â€œalways here and honoredâ€ to lend a listening ear.
So while our debate surprised me, what touched me most was Â the evidence yet again that our friendship is about these streams of kindness we bestow on each other, delightful and alluring. These streams Â of kindness feed the river of our friendship and make the waterâ€”regardless of the riverâ€™s path or the obstacles in itâ€”a place where I like to be.
I donâ€™t know where this river runs, but I canâ€™t seem to stop dipping my toes in it and sometimes wading far out over my head.