Thursday, October 30, 2003
quote du jour:
"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." - Henry David Thoreau

never hear my cell phone ring. For that reason, I get a lot of missed call messages on my phone when I pull it out of my pocket to use. Yesterday, I missed a call from Alex about 5:30 p.m.

I figured that she wanted to shoot the shit on her way home from work, so I waited until the minutes turned free at 9 p.m. to call her back. She didn't answer, but returned my called about 30 minutes later. What followed is historic. We talked for more than two hours straight.

We've been friends since the fall of 1998. I'm not sure that I would use all of the fingers on one hand if I were to count the really long conversations we've had... Okay, so I might use all of one hand but not the fingers on both. That's just not our style, I guess. Whenever I'm serious, she's not. And when she's serious, I tend to get goofy. Rarely do we manage to hit the mark at the same time. Of course, when we do, it's magical.

The thing is... Our friendship has changed. I'm not sure exactly how but I know that for the first time in five years, everything seems different. We both feel real, honest and serious -- at the same time.

A while back, Alex planned a visit to Franklin to see me. The visit has been the subject of much anticipation and plenty of contemplation. Finally, it came to pass last weekend.

Alex doesn't travel alone, so she brought a friend up from Oakdale. I'd met this friend once before in a bar a long while ago but I remembered nothing about her. Also, of course, I wanted Alex all to myself. So, I wasn't keen on the excess baggage coming along. However, it worked out pretty well. Her friend was much more fun that I imagined she would be and the weekend was a great experience.

Friday night, we went out to eat and then managed to spend time at both a jazz club in an affluent "old money" part of town and at a country honky tonk. Saturday, we slept late, took the dime tour of Franklin, watched some college football and visited one of the local comedy clubs. I even managed to roll out of bed and go shopping with the duo Sunday afternoon. I think the weekend can be classified as well rounded.

What was surprising is that throughout, Alex seemed fairly open and honest about the interesting parts of our past. Ours has been a friendship of cycles. Mostly, she would give me just enough of what I wanted to keep me hanging on... and then we'd get all weird again. Those moments where we seemed to connect, however, were always worth the stretches of time where nothing made sense. For as long as I've known Alex, I've always thought that she was holding something back. I've thought that she was a much deeper person that she wanted folks to realize. I knew there was a genuine person inside her tart candy coating shell.

This weekend, I received confirmation that I might have been right.

During our college days, Alex & I both worked for the Office of Student Publications. We began our stint together at the student newspaper. A year before she graduated, however, she moved down the hall to be editor of the yearbook. She was only three doors down, but I missed her presence. I would go in her office when she was away and leave quotes about life & love on post-it notes... I'd sign them only with a unique little smiley face.

One day, I found a quote too big to fit on a little yellow pad. I formatted the text up nice in Quark, printed it out and left it for her:

    "Have you even been in love? Horrible, isn't it? It makes you
    so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens your heart
    and it means someone can get inside you and mess you up.
    You build up all these defenses. You build up this whole
    armor, for years, so nothing can hurt you, then one stupid
    person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders
    into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They
    don't ask for it. They do something dumb one day like kiss
    you, or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own
    anymore. Love takes hostages..." - Rose Walker

Saturday night, we were hanging out (innocently) in my bed. She told me that she thinks that, for her, I'm the one that's mentioned in that quote -- that one stupid person. She said that she's probably felt that way about me for most of our friendship, but that she'd been afraid to admit to it or to let me in.

I told her that when I'm in a relationship, I want to feel different as soon as the person I'm dating walks into the room. I admitted to her that she was the one that established that standard. I've never understood what our friendship was about... or why I even stuck around. Many times, it just seemed like a battle I couldn't win. The closest thing I can figure is that I change when she walks into the room. I perk up. I feel different in a good way. That might just be enough to endure the rest.

Honesty... Between Alex & Fletch. This is a landmark, people.

During our conversation tonight, she told me that she hoped the next five years would be more honest than the past five. The entire time we talked, everything seemed so real... so legitimate.

She told me that the reason she didn't answer when I called the first time was that she was writing me a letter. The funny thing about that is that when she called back at 9:30, I was giving a letter to her a final edit (yesterday's entry). Our conversation Saturday night was clouded for her by a lack of sleep. It was a little foggy for me thanks to a dose of Smirnoff and Kahlua. The plan, I guess, is that our letters might clarify things a bit.

Clarity is something I've been missing in my life for a while. It's absence has led to a frustration that sort of came to a head about the middle of this month. And then, suddenly, a calm was restored to my life. Now, though, the Alex situation changes everything. Parts of my life that I didn't even think about are now right there in front of my face. I'm not sure what direction I should be in... and I'm not really sure what direction I'm travelling in now. Yet, for some reason, that confusion is okay with me now. Something is telling me to ride it out a bit and see where it takes me. I guess it's time to hold on.

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