06 June 2014

The Last One?

The past year or so has been pretty strange.  Not bad, just unnerving.  Or I just don’t know what to make of it, or perhaps I’m not accepting something.
Of course I am still sad about John’s death.  Yesterday the mail carrier brought one of those “In Memoriam” cards with his photo and an inscription:  his birthdate, date of death, “Beloved husband of Mildred, father of Stefanie and Lisa, grandfather of Melanie and Steven.” And friend to me, to Joanne, to many other people.

I’m realizing that he’s probably the last male friend I’ve made in my life.  I can call him that because I never thought of him as someone I knew just because he was Mildred’s husband; he is one of the few men with whom I’ve felt comfortable.  In some ways, it seems improbable:  On the surface, we didn’t have that much in common.  But he, like Millie, knew the kinds of things about people and life that you don’t learn in classrooms, in seminars or seminaries, or in any place where people try to explain life in terms of theories or categories.  That, I believe, is the reason why they met me near the end of my life as Nick and became even better friends as I changed my clothes, my name, some of my surroundings, the way I think and, finally, my body.

I’m realizing that he may have been the last male friend I had.  Perhaps it was inevitable that, one day, I wouldn’t have any more male friends, if for no other reason that I never had very many.  Over the past year, I’ve met some men who have been nice, even kind, to me and didn’t seek anything in return.  Some belong to, or at least attend, the church that’s become part of my life.  At least two or three seem like they genuinely want to be friendly with me outside the eglesial walls, perhaps one of them might want to be in a more intimate relationship with me.  But I’m not ready for that, for him, for them.  To tell you the truth, I don’t want to be.  If anything, if I’m going to have such a relationship, I’d be more interested in having it with another woman, but even the prospect of that doesn’t interest, much less excite, me. 

For that matter, I don’t even feel ready to make new friends.  Actually, that’s not quite right:  I’m not ready to call anybody I’ve met within the past year, two years, a friend.  Perhaps it’s a matter of my age:  At this point in my life, I don’t think I can make instantaneous or even quick friendships. Perhaps it’s generational:  I didn’t grow up with the notion that someone I met only on some social medium is a friend.  (What can I say to someone who says he has 789 Facebook friends?)  It’s hard to think of anyone I’ve known less than ten—or, maybe, five—as a friend.

Someone might say I haven’t quite recovered from what Dominick or other men in my life have done to me.  They’re probably right.  Maybe I’m not ready to recover, whatever that means.  Maybe I can’t, or shouldn’t.  And, perhaps, it might keep me from thinking of myself as having made a new friend, especially with a man.