Friday, February 23, 2007

Six degrees

Today, in the course of doing my job, I had to email the father of my best friend from high school to get some materials from him. He is a professor at MIT, and one of his students has applied for a job at the university at which I work. In his email response he extended his greetings. (And as a reference, my 20 year high school reunion is coming up this summer.)

I have such an odd set of memories about that time. My friend and I were drawn together because we had a similar outlook on life at that point - fairly miserable, depressed and lacking family support. Her dad was just awful to her, to me, to everyone in so many ways. Now that I am an adult, and largely a happy one, my perspective is a little different. I remember how his grad students used to hang around their house & were very engaged with him, delighted to be working with him. At the same time, his daughters were all running away from him physically and mentally. He clearly had a lot to offer, but didn't offer it to his own kids. Right after we graduated, my friend was driving the car during the accident in which I broke both my legs, my nose, and suffered many other smaller injuries. While we held on to the friendship for a year or so after that, we grew apart as I started to work hard to make my life into what I wanted it to be - happy, productive, full of positive relationships. I don't think she fared as well, and is still back in the same town working for a family business which must suck her soul out a little more each day.

I am grateful I had the stregth to extract from that whole state of being. I had the strong support of my sister, and as time went on, from my parents also. I feel lucky as hell, but also proud, as it was awfully hard work. I have chronic ankle injuries that will plague me my whole life to remind me of the bad choices I made in the past, but also to keep me focused on where I am now. And I have some gratitude to that high school friend who helped me get through some very rough patches. I'd love to ask her if her dad ever shaped up and started being kinder to her, but I'm pretty sure the answer is no. Maybe she'll email me, now that I've had contact with her father. Maybe I'll ask her. She certainly deserves a little kindness from him.

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