Sometimes, I can be a real dick.
For some of you reading this, you may be thinking “yes, that’s an understatement.” Or perhaps “what do you mean ‘sometimes?'” Others may be thinking “say it ain’t so!” Either way, the fact still remains: tis true. A recent example occurred a month or so ago, but in order to give the full story, we must go back about 3 years…
Not too long after moving to Oklahoma City, I learned a very good friend back home in Kalamazoo had gotten engaged. Having known her since the early 90s, I was thrilled by the news, and couldn’t wait to congratulate her. So I called, and left her a voicemail. I also sent a text, and message via social media. But I didn’t hear back from her. Soon, weeks and months had passed without a peep.
Some of you may recall that early on in my relocation to OKC I fell into depression, and soon after I lost several friends who decided to cut off contact with me. Unfortunately, this instance with my newly-engaged friend fell into the same timeframe, so I figured she was among those whom had chosen to no longer remain friends. Therefore, when I began removing the other contacts from my phone and social media lists, she was deleted too.
Fast forward to present day…
Back in Kalamazoo for a weekend visit, I was out enjoying the beautiful Michigan weather. She and I inadvertently crossed paths, and I was not at all prepared. It would be a gross understatement to say I did not handle it well. Like, at all.
Upon spotting me in the crowd, she bounced up to me with her usual glee and energy to say hello, and asked how I had been. All I could muster was a weak “hello.” She continued to ask questions about life since last we saw one another, but in my head all I could hear was “why is she talking to me? Why does she seem to be happy to see me? Isn’t she the one who cut off contact? If she didn’t want to talk to me back then, why is she talking to me now? What is happening?”
Apparently my outward appearance gave away my inner conflict, for her joy and enthusiasm quickly waned, and was replaced by cautious uncertainty. I managed to give a couple monosyllabic replies (I think – I really can’t be sure, as it all happened so fast) and eventually, she said her farewell and walked away. There I stood, still stunned, dazed, and confused.
As the days passed, I thought a lot about that chance meeting. I thought about it a great deal, actually. The more I mulled the situation, the more I realized how poorly I reacted. The more I realized that, the worse I felt. After a couple of weeks considering the situation, and my boorish behavior, I decided to give her a call.
She was every bit surprised as I that I called. We talked only a minute or so, but made plans to meet and talk the next time I was in town. And so, about a month later, we met for a drink so we could talk things out. The details of the conversation are, of course, personal. Suffice to say there were things each of us did not realize about the other’s situation three years ago. We also learned that we both had a horrendous 2012/2013. We parted ways that evening friends once again.
I went back to my hotel, enjoyed a beer and some white cheddar truffle fries, thought about what transpired, and the things about which we discussed. I came away with several thoughts, but two in particular stuck with me. First: you never know what other people are going through. Each of us has our battles, our mountains, our trials we must face. How important it is to remember that others may well be dealing with more than we know.
Second: the importance of communication. This fact was nothing new to me, but rather was solidified in my mind by these events. Had we talked three years prior, we may not have lost those years. And had we not talked this time around, we could have lost even more time. Communication takes two, and thankfully she was willing to talk. Not everyone is that open, or willing, and that is unfortunate.
I am thankful she agreed to meet and talk, thankful to have regained her friendship, and thankful for her ability to forgive.