When a text message arrives on my cell phone at 11:30 p.m. it's usually not good news, since most of my friends (the few who text anyway) are of an age to have long since retired for the night. So it was with some trepidation that I checked the phone, and while the message at first seemed innocuous, after a moment's reflection, I could tell the implications were anything but. "DYK of a cheap 1 bdrm apt I cld rent?" it read. It was from a young friend of mine whom until that moment had been happily ensconced in a new condo she had purchased with her partner. "Yes..." I typed. "R U OK???"
A few seconds later..."No...A. ended our relationship. Devastated."
Now, apart from the weirdness of sharing and getting this kind of information in abbreviated blurbations, the news itself was unsettling. This young woman had moved to Michigan because of her boyfriend's job, leaving behind a family back east with whom she shared a very close relationship. She has done well here in terms of career and friends, but this meant she would be feeling lost on several fronts.
We texted back and forth (and I have no idea why one of us didn't pick up the phone) until I determined that she was alright for the night. But my sleep was restless and fitful after that. We had made plans to meet for tea, and as I thought about what I might say to comfort or encourage her, I realized how fortunate I was never to have experienced this kind of pain. My first love was lying right beside me, 37 years after our first date, and he's never given me a moment's reason to doubt that he'll be there until what amounts to forever. How many women in today's world get to say that?
In my observation, I think young women today have a hard time with relationships. The rules have changed so much, and the expectations on both sides are extremely high. Plus, it's simple enough to dissolve a relationship, even one that's been legally sanctioned, that I wonder if people not only give up on relationships but enter into them too easily, knowing there's a quick and "painless" way out.
Quick it might be, but it's never painless, is it?
Yesterday, I had lunch with a group of friends, all ladies "of a certain age." The topic turned to relationships as it so often does among women.
"Men are really all alike," my friend D. laughed. "They just wear different pants."
"It's true," she went on. "I used to think my husband was a huge pain in the ass, and I'd see my friends and think their husbands were perfect, that they had the perfect marriage. And then they'd tell me things about their husbands, and I realised they were just as much a pain in the ass as mine!"
There definitely is no perfect relationship. Ask anyone who's been married a long time, and they'll tell you. It takes enormous amounts of patience and tongue biting to keep things on an even keel, neither of which necessarily gets easier with time.
Sometimes, it isn't worth it.
But sometimes it is.
When I think about my young friend, feeling adrift and alone, I'm grateful to have someone in my life who thought I was worth it.