Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Letters to Barb


As I write this, my dear friend Barb Cooper is in yoga teacher training for ten days.  I’m very excited about this for a number of reasons and it’s exactly where she should be right now.

But.

Oh, don’t worry.  I have absolutely no reservations about what she’s doing.  My “but” is purely selfish.

See, other than a brief bad period a couple of years ago which I mention here only because I’m compulsively honest, Barb has been at the other end of my keyboard for more than a decade. 

She was there when my 17-year-old started school and when I made the difficult decision to rescue her from the school system four years ago.  She was there when I started out on my own for the first time after ten years with my husband, and when my mother had a triple bypass and when I got my first full-time job in a dozen years and when I lost it. 

And now, while I’ve never been a needy or constant-contact kind of person and I know she’s still there in spirit, STUFF IS HAPPENING.

Would I have written that ill-advised email to a man from my past yesterday afternoon if Barb had been around to screen it?

And the night before last, I was up half the night because my teenage daughter shared a letter she’d written about her middle school experience—an experience from beyond the depths of hell that Barb lived with me from the other side of the country.

And today…well, today it occurred to me for the first time that the “less/fewer” rule DOESN’T SEEM TO APPLY TO “MORE”.  That was very disconcerting for me, especially since (if true) it suggests that “more” and “less” can’t be precise opposites.  I need to dig into this further.  And really…who else isn’t going to think that needing to know is a sign of some kind of neurosis?  You’re thinking it now, aren’t you?

However it may seem, the point of this story isn’t actually to complain about Barb’s absence.  The truth is, I’ve been pretty busy the past few days with a new client (after three months of medically-induced downtime!) and finishing up a project that got put on hold when I got sick.  The point of this story is that so often I see people online talking about how you don’t really have a relationship with someone until you’ve met in person and that sort of thing.

I know where those statements come from; in emails and forums relating to my relationship blog, I’m forever seeing people who are “in love” with people they’ve never met—usually people they’ve been corresponding with for one to three weeks.  And it’s true that it’s easier to mislead people or only show them a particular side of you online.

But it’s also worth noting how much a person on the other side of the country can become a part of your everyday life.  I just took a quick look at my gmail account—which I’ve only had for about half the time I’ve known Barb—and it’s showing about 7,000 THREADS between us.  Some of those only contain a few emails, but others contain dozens.  All told, I suspect that we’re over the 100,000 mark at this point.

Somehow, I find it hard to believe that I’d magically know her better (or vice versa) if we’d sat down for coffee or shuttled our kids to the same dance class.

1 comment:

Barb said...

It's weird, though, because I kind of feel like you're here at this training with me. I keep hearing your voice, except, of course, I've never actually heard your voice. And yesterday, when I was standing on a street corner after an endless day of training, just thoroughly exhausted, and the blind guy coming down the sideline made a beeline for me like some sort of heat seeking missile and whacked me hard in the shin with his cane, I could hear your laugh when I told you about it in my head.