Things have changed. At the beginning, I worried about too much change and even asked if I would still be me if I kept going this way. Of course, I'm still me, whatever sense you can make of self and identity through time. But, I suppose the conversations I've had have been very concentrated and have filled my mind like a new fragrance that can't be forgotten.
But change, even in subtle ways, changes relationships. Some relationships withstand that, and much more. But others don’t. Dominique Browning wrote a post about this a while ago and it stayed with me. Her tone stayed with me too. When you’re happier where you are now, there’s no real, deep resentment of what has transpired. When one friend told me she just wanted the old Jane back, I knew I was staring down one of those situations. I looked at her and knew that wasn't on the cards. A curious sort of coolness set in; nonplussed though still admitting the sadness of it, for me and for her.
I went to Alaska in 1997 for only 4 days and met a woman at the hostel I stayed at called Tammy and we paired up and toured around together. She was from San Francisco and sold secondhand clothes and I was a silly 21 year old, in Alaska in September without a coat. But I liked her instantly and I remember her still. Maybe it was an odd kind of synchronicity or a certain devil-may-care attitude that our brief stint in Juneau brought out in us, hopping on float planes and seeing grizzly bears. Still, we never stayed in touch nor even planned to.
I’ve been thinking about change and how random and idiosyncratic relationships are. Some friends have put up with me happy, sad, vegetarian, meat-eating, academic, secretary, journalist, in crazy relationships, relationship-phobic. No matter what bullshit manifested, they’ve been there. Others have signed up with one version of Jane and when the program changes, they’re out. And sometimes it's not the people at all, but the stuff around us that changes. All these things are dynamic in the world and unfathomable and I do this as much as it’s done to me. Relationship and friendships aren’t straight lines or perfect arcs and they don’t come with timelines.
And this is the most frequent way relationships end. Without a big explosion, without a sense of right and wrongdoing. We accept this all the time, though I don't think we're ever able to tell ourselves an adequate or satisfactory story of what has transpired. I notice this theme - the blameless end of relationships of all kinds - running through a lot of my stories. I think I'm drawn to it because it doesn't make for dramatic storytelling with lofty swoops and drops from on high. Very little seems to happen. Yet so much has changed by the end of them.
Image from bee hives / cassie kammerzell on Flickr