I’m supposed to be writing a paper right now, but I’ve got a lot on my mind, so I’m writing this first, in the hopes that putting it out into cyberspace allows me to get it out of my system and focus on my current life, rather than my past. Those of you looking for a silly Fibby post shouldn’t bother to read further.
So in my past life, I was an event coordinator, and I was really good at it. Don’t get me wrong – there was definitely a learning curve. I wasn’t good at it right away, but I was given a lot of support and encouragement and freedom to make mistakes, and in the end, I left knowing how to pull off a conference for 1,000 with my eyes closed. I don’t think much now about this past life, because I’m so busy focusing on my present life – the one where I’m becoming a social worker and preparing to change the world. But every now and then, when school and social work get hard and frustrating, I miss the good old days of conference planning.
And since this is the week of the conference this year, I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit. I am missing my old duties so much that I actually had a conference-anxiety dream last night. No kidding. I woke up and had to laugh. I’m pretty sure I never had a conference anxiety dream when I was actually RUNNING a conference, yet here I was feeling sympathy-anxiety for people on the other side of the country!
If I were still in my past life, in my past job, this would be conference week. I would have gotten up really, really early this morning to drive to the Oakland airport and fly to Southern California where I would spend the afternoon putting together nametags and decorations and registration packets. Tomorrow would be the first day of the conference, and by Saturday at 5pm, everything would be packed up and I would be heading back to San Francisco.
The feeling of getting through the conference in one piece is of course a wonderful thing, but what I am finding myself missing so much right now is all the little stuff. The anxiety on the flight down – not sure if I forgot something important and knowing there was nothing I could do about it if I did, the excitement of the committee in seeing their hard work finally paying off, the racing around to put out fires, always being on call with a phone or walkie-talkie, the smiles and waves and “great conference!” comments I’d get while wandering around the conference, and the people… Oh, the people.
Some of my favorite people of all time are going to be at the conference this week. In addition to the amazing staff I used to work with, there are also just some incredible individuals in the field who I am heartbroken to not have my annual catch-up time with this year. I’ve been in touch with the staff all week, telling them I’m thinking of them and wishing them well, but it is these other people I am missing so much right now.
And that brings me to the second half of the post, and the frustration that comes from knowing that someone who was once a dear friend of mine will be at that conference, and knowing that I cannot be in touch to wish him well or to send silly text messages to make him smile when things get stressful, the way I can with my other conference friends. There was once mutual respect and caring and now there isn’t. There was a fight… or there wasn’t… there was a disagreement… or a misunderstanding… or something… or nothing. To be honest, I don’t know exactly where things went wrong, how they went wrong so quickly, or when things became irreparable, but damage was done. Major damage. And despite my many, many efforts to make things right between us, we never managed to resolve things before I moved away.
And so I learned the life lesson that closure isn’t always an option. And I hate that life lesson. I hate it. Mostly, because I can’t stand the idea that there is someone out there who is angry with me, and that there's nothing I can do about it. I always held onto the hope that maybe someday he’d come around and we’d be able to be the friends that we always promised we’d be to each other, but we haven't spoken in almost a year, and so far, that hasn't happened.
I got this idea in my head that maybe things might be different now that I've moved away and time has passed, and maybe it’s all water under the bridge, and maybe if I were to send a silly text message or joke gift, he would laugh and remember why we were friends and would pick up the phone and call and tell me he missed me. And then I shared this idea with a mutual friend, who said simply, “I wouldn’t.” And then I was sad again, because I knew that friend was right.
So I’ve been thinking a lot over these past few days about it all, and in the end, I know I did everything I could to try to salvage our friendship. I also know he’s not the type to forgive or forget, so there will never be a reconciling or the kind of closure I so desire. And I hate that there is absolutely nothing that can be done to change things or make him come around.
And I know that it’s just because the conference is this week that I’m once again feeling frustrated by it all. It’s not something that eats away at me on a daily or even weekly basis, but it’s one of those things in my life that I wish had turned out differently, even though I'm not sure it could have. This is a good person whose friendship I valued a lot, and who I miss now, even after the way everything turned out.
But since I can’t say all this to him, I share it with cyber-space instead.
For those of you who haven’t checked out Patty Griffin’s new album, do so. And if you’re wondering why I put that at the end of this post, it's because in the movie version of my life, she features prominently on the soundtrack - especially in chapters relating to this friend.