"On average, an infant laughs nearly two hundred times a day; an adult, only twelve. Maybe they are laughing so much because they are looking at us. To be able to preserve joyousness of heart and yet to be concerning in thought; in this way we can determine good fortune and misfortune on earth, and bring to perfection everything on earth."
- The I Ching
I am not sure what made me think of it, but yesterday I was thinking about a conversation I had a while back, with the mother of one of my childhood friends. It was back in the late 1990's. Alan and I were still living in our first apartment. It was a third floor walk-up that was only one bedroom, but had a view of the East Bay hills, and a lot of charm. It was our first home, in fact, it was brand new when we signed the papers, we got to start brand new, in a brand new apartment. It was paradise for us. We had such a good time, that our land lady used to get complaints of all the "happy noise" coming from our place. LOL. She didn't tell us, until we moved out that she used to have to deal with our neighbors complain about our laughing too much. LOL.
Our first four years were wonderful, there wasn't a care in the world. I think I might have mentioned that people used compare Alan and I to Paul and Jamie Buchman, on "Mad About You." One of Alan's friends came over for dinner one night, and before he went home he had decided to find himself a wife, because he said he never saw two people like Alan and I, who had so much fun together. He did indeed find a girl and settled down a couple years later. It was quite a compliment, coming from someone I was sure would never settle down. But he did. It felt good to be an example of happiness.
After about four years and six months, things began to change for us. It wasn't he and I, it was all the pressures of life that surrounded us. My parents became ill, and it was up to me to care for them. It was a difficult prospect. I knew my father was going to leave us soon, and my mother, well she was always ill one way or the other. Mostly she had a long history of mental problems, which didn't help dad much. I made it all work, but it was a lot of work to do so. Alan had his own pressures where he worked. We began to drift a little, then over the next couple years, as our various pressures increased, he and I drifted a lot. We very nearly separated in late 1997. And the worst thing that every happened to us, hadn't even happened yet.
I was sitting at Starbuck's one day, thinking about how sad the whole life we had, had become, when Penny, the mother of my best friend as a child, asked if she could join me. It had been years since we had spoken, we just hadn't run into each other, but it was a pleasant diversion to see her that morning, so I welcomed the company. I always had the urge to sit up straight when I was in Penny's presence, even at the age of 36. LOL. It was a parent. You should always be on your best behavior when you are around your friend's parents! LOL. Funny, but I still felt like a little person around her, even at the old age of 37.
As we shared about our lives, she asked about Alan. She had met Alan years earlier, and took an instant liking to him. They talked for hours at one of the parties I had given, just after we got married. "He's fine," I lied. "And how have you been?" She asked me. It wasn't as easy to lie about how I was, but I tried. "I'm ok. Just going one day at a time." Penny sat back in her chair, and looked me square in the eye, "Carly, what's wrong? Is there something or someway I can help." LOL. I guess it was a bit obvious at that point. I found myself telling her everything over the next 45 minutes or so, and she just let me talk, and cry and cry, between sips of my grande sized hot chocolate w/raspberry syrup.
She hadn't said a word the whole time... she just listened. When I was finished, she got a big grin on her face, and leaned in close to me to give me some advice. "Carly," she said, "go home, and have sex with that man. Have sex in the shower, in the garden, on the balcony, in the closet, on the floor, and even the kitchen sink! Don't even worry if there is dishes in the sink... JUST HAVE LOTS AND LOTS OF MESSY SEX!" Well, I may have been 37, and married nearly 8 years, but I knew I was blushing. When you are in the presence of a parent of a childhood friend, you don't really think about sex! You know? LOL. I was completely embarrassed, but I was enthralled with her advice. After all, it probably wasn't the worst advice anyone had ever given me. LOL. Although, sex was not ever a problem for us.
"Well Penny, the thing is, we don't really have problems with sex." I explained. "Yes dear, but if you are having sex in the kitchen sink, and it's good, you can work anything out! I know from experience. As soon as you are done, face the problems in your marriage... talk, touch, talk some more." I couldn't say her advice wouldn't work I had never tried it. I smiled at the thought, and when I went home that day, I tried it. I didn't worry about the sink, or if there was anything in it. And later... we talked. In fact, we talked all night and into the next morning. Alan ended up taking a day off from work, I found someone to check on mom, and we just talked. We got over a lot of problems in the months to come. Not because of sex, but because of the new intimacy we had allowed each other.
I guess the conversation I had with Penny was one of those conversations we all eventually have, the ones that reminds you that you are indeed a grown up. That day I went from thinking of Penny as the grown-up, to my peer. I found out that only 18 years separates us. When you are and old married lady of nearly 45, that is nothing. We are now grown-ups together. :) She is my friend, not just the mother of a friend. Her advice, helped then and it helped in 2000, when the "event which shall remain nameless" happened. It helped. It couldn't fix what broke in me that day in 2000, but it was put to use in the sense of allowing ourselves to remember each other. It gave us memories of other times when we worked things out. Sigh. You never know when someone will give you the advice of a lifetime, do you?
Vogue Cover May 15th, 1941
My 2017 Reading List
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