Good Friend, Rough Ride

Sometimes life sucks.

Sometimes life sucks for a friend but you are there for them so they are able to keep their head just above the water.

But sometimes life starts sucking for you before they are able to swim on their own.

And then what?

I guess you tumble down the roaring rapids of life clinging to each other, each taking a turn rolling over to pull the other out of the water.

Each holding on to the other and hoping, hoping the water will calm soon and you can both climb out onto the shore. And stand there holding hands instead of clinging for dear life. And enjoy the sun and the view and look back at the raging river and know that you survived because you had each other.

Yes, sometimes I think it might happen like that. If you are blessed with a good friend.

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Obsessive Fandom

I think Jane’s 1D experience deserves a bit more attention than I gave it in my nutshell post last week. {For you less experienced and less knowledgeable types, 1D is short for One Direction.}

There are two reasons for this. The first is that there’s a level of humor in what happened that was glossed over in last week’s post. The second is that there’s a lesson for all of us in it, I think. So let’s get to it.

I learned the earth-shattering-if-you-are-of-a-certain-age-and-female news via a quick glance at Google News around 1:00 last Wednesday afternoon. Having recently been the person to break the news to her  of his departure from their tour, I wanted a similar position of honor this time around.

I took out my phone and shot her a quick text.

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And then I immediately put my phone away. So I missed her desperate attempts to interact with me on the subject:

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As you can see, I wasn’t the first person. No, that honor goes to some girl at school. From what I’ve been able to tell, Jane’s practically the only One Directioner in her school so there wasn’t a loud wailing and gnashing of teeth as has been reported from other locations.

Jane confidently corrected the girl that he was only taking a break from the tour. The friend insisted he had quit the band. Jane checked Twitter. Jane excused herself to the bathroom. Jane cried. Jane texted her Daddy:

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He responded (to her surprise) that he was on his way, no questions asked. It was sometime in here that I sent my text. My husband, not prone to just pick the kids up willy-nilly from school did so without question this time for two reasons. First, she hadn’t been feeling well that morning. Second, he trusted her good judgment to not request removal from school unless it was important.

She waited in silence as he signed her out. He could tell she was very upset about something. And then they left the building. As they walked down the steps toward the road, he asked, “So. What’s going on?”

She took a deep breath and then croaked, “Zain* left. He left One Direction.”

He stopped walking. He stepped away from her to get a clearer look. “Are you being serious right now?”

And, no, he wasn’t expressing shock that Zain had made that decision. All parents everywhere should be laughing at this scene. Of this father so blindsided by his irrational teenaged daughter. She burst into tears and just nodded.

“Please, Daddy, please… can we just go? Please don’t make me go back in there. Can we please just go home?”

“I hope you know this is never gonna happen again.”

“I know, Daddy.”

And with that, they left. She didn’t get the previously promised after-school treat though.

Before you judge, do me a favor and go to YouTube. Pull up a video of some teenaged girls getting to see The Beatles for the first time. For One Directioners, it’s that. You may not think 1D measures up to The Beatles, but I can assure you that their fan base is every bit as intense.

Which brings me to the lesson. Jane took comfort in Tweets about not judging other people’s emotional reactions to events that affect the things they love. And one of them had a good comparison.

Think about the reaction from adult men when a favorite player leaves a favorite team. Think about how the entire city of Cleveland reacted when Lebron James went to the Miami Heat.

Do they go running to the bathroom and cry? Do they beg their bosses to let them go home from work early? No, of course not. They are men, not teenaged girls.

But they sure do whine like little babies on Facebook. They angrily declare their disgust at the disloyalty of the player. They rid themselves of that treasured jersey with that now-despised number. They boo when that player returns on an opposing team.

In short, they react the same. Maybe even worse, since the One Directioners are sad but not particularly angry at the deserter.

Nerds have long complained about how people ridicule their obsessions with Pokemon, comic books, video games, and similar pursuits that non-nerds seem to think we should all grow out of by adulthood. But no one bats an eye at adult obsession with sports. (Ironically, I know some adults nerds who would ridicule Jane’s obsession with 1D).

I think it’s perhaps time that we all step back and give each other some room to breathe. And grieve. We’ve all got our obsessions. And if we are rational, we can admit that those obsessions are irrational. And if we aren’t, our spouses or close friends can whisper it in our ears during a calm moment.

And sometimes, something or someone upsets our obsessed-over apple cart. And we momentarily feel like we can’t go on because of it. People who don’t get it should take a minute to realize they have their own apple carts. And then just wait. We’ll get over it.

I’ll worry if she’s still wound up a week from now. She’s already doing better. She’s righted her cart and she’s picking up her apples. And she’s a bit stronger and a bit more aware of her feelings now than she was before. And that’s an important part of growing up.

 

*A note on spelling. When I asked Jane to read this to make sure she was ok with me telling the story, she commented that I misspelled his name (Zayne – as can be seen in the text I sent her). Since I got that spelling from news sources, the problem is apparently widespread. I asked her how to spell it and her response made me sad. She said, “It’s Z-A-Y-N. Unless you want to spell it the way he really spells it and then it’s Z-A-I-N. But their publicists decided that was too ethnic so they changed the ‘I’ to a ‘Y’.” Too ethnic? She had to clarify that he is of Arabic descent. This is probably another post entirely but I think it’s sad that we can’t let people be who they really are. Afraid they wouldn’t be a success if we aren’t all fooled into thinking they are “white”? Shame.

She’s Growing Up

Dear Papa Bill,

I was at work today, just sitting there writing a little program to collect statistics on CPU usage.  Nothing exciting at all, really, but I was content.  A small portion of my mind that wasn’t needed for focusing on the task at hand, that part dedicated to singing earworm songs and worrying about upcoming activities, was pondering how much Jane has grown up.

She made the school volleyball team and she’s really fired up about it.  She’s still playing the viola but I guess you were gone before she had even started that.  It’s hard to believe how much time has passed.  Now she’s in the band too, playing the flute.  It’s her favorite class.  She’s in all Pre-AP courses and working hard at them.  But it’s volleyball that I was thinking about as I toiled away at my keyboard.

When her Daddy took her to order her school-color workout clothes, she saw the letter jackets and was so very excited.  She can’t wait for the opportunity to letter in volleyball.  Then a couple of days ago, they poked their heads in the gym to watch the high school team play.  Each girl has a large poster with her picture on the wall of the gym.  Jane’s face lit up.  She’s already dreaming about being on one of those posters.

She works hard.  She’s not the best girl on the team but she’s big and strong and plays well.  We are anticipating traveling for games for many years to come.  And so it was that I was imagining mom and her boyfriend standing at the edge of the court, waiting to congratulate her on a game well-played.  Suddenly, it wasn’t Hugh standing next to mom; it was you.

I was immediately in tears.  My throat tightened up and hurt.  I turned my back to my cubicle door and grabbed a tissue.  I can’t even remember the last time I missed you so deeply; I thought I was well and truly past all that.

You would have been so proud of her.  You never showed a lot of emotion but in that little mental image, I saw the small smile that would have been on your face.  It felt so real.  So incredibly, achingly real.  You were special to her and I know she was to you as well, the first grandchild.  I never imagined that you wouldn’t be around to watch her grow up.  And then once you were gone, after awhile, I never thought about what you were missing.  Until today.  When I sat sobbing over what will never be while running CPU statistics on my screen and hoping no one would notice.

Some people believe they know for sure that our departed loved ones are watching from above.  I don’t know that.  I hope, but I don’t know.  In that brief moment, though, you were there and you were smiling.  Thank you for making it to one of her games, even if only in my imagination.

I love you,

Your daughter