Tuesday, May 13, 2008

After the Storm

The winds have died down, the rain has ended. The sun burns brightly in the clear blue morning sky. It is the dawn of a new day. Not only for this speck of land that I live on in coastal Delaware but in my life as well. A nor'easter blew in from the Atlantic Ocean early Sunday night and lingered all day Monday. Wind gusts up to 50 MPH tore the new green leaves off of trees. Roads in low lying area were flooded. Sporadic power outages testified to the relentless fury of the winds. Yesterday I was scheduled to work the evening shift at the Inn in Lewes. I drove the mile down the rain swept Route 1, buffeted by the high winds. Turning on New Road, I had to slow down to drive through the portion of New Road that was flooded by the Rehoboth Canal. Arriving at the Inn, I made sure to park where there was little chance of a tree falling on my car. The few guests in the hotel took the bad weather in stride. They were appreciative they had shelter from the storm. We joked about the fact that the computer local weather had forecasted “sprinkles” for the day. After checking in one walk-in couple from the United Kingdom (they were on their way to Montchanin, Delaware), the night was quiet. I had time to reflect on the storm and its aftermath of last Sunday night at the Purple Parrot. I do believe things happen for a reason. Sometimes the reason is not evident. However, with time the reason or reasons come into focus. When one is treated with such casual disrespect as I was over a period of time, sooner or later a reaction is going to happen. The fact that I couldn’t resolve this conflict in a more respectful manner to my friend is my fault. My personality is such that it doesn’t fit into the derisive, caustic, cutting, and arrogant personality of my former friend. Since I’ve retired and moved to Delaware I have attempted to “fit in” groups, which I have avoided all my life. For most of my life, starting with my childhood years, I have been a loner. Along the way I have made a few friends. My three best friends from my school days are still my very good friends. Although we lost touch for a number of years after school, we all reunited in person or through e-mail during the past ten years. These friends are my true friends. They understand me as I understand them. That is the definition of a true friend. Someone who accepts you as you are, warts and all. Someone who doesn’t accuse you of being a drunk because you take offense to the disrespectful way you are being treated by your so called friend. A true friend is one who values all the shades of your personality and truly cares about you. In return you keep their friendship because you care about them. A true friend seeks the cause of your anger rather than to justify their own arrogance by their baseless assumption you must be drunk or have “issues.” Since moving to Delaware, I was with a group of friends who regularly went out Wednesday night to different restaurants. One was a longtime friend from my Army days back in the 60’s. He and his partner would take out another older friend of theirs (85 years old), “just to get him out of the house.” Unfortunately, this older man has an incurable case of logorrhea. Dining out with this person, with his affliction, was very difficult. He had an inability to listen to anyone. It got to be a joke, that whoever sat opposite him would be “blasted” non-stop with his current diatribe, often repeated. That also got to be a joke as to how many times we would hear the same story. Dining out with this man was not a pleasant experience. Last winter, after a particularly rude action by him, I decided to no longer dine out with this group. I wasn’t missed. Because I didn’t willingly subject myself to his torrent of endless words, he had long since ignored my presence. What was the point? We also had a Saturday morning breakfast group at which this person would attend. The other members of the group would jockey for a position so they would not sit opposite him. Though I had stopped attending the Wednesday night dinners, I continued to attend the Saturday morning breakfasts. However, there came a time when I had to end that also. When it gets to the point where you might as well be invisible, it is time to say “this isn’t working.” Thus I started another “night out.” I started to meet another friend, who had recently suffered the breakup of a long term relationship, at the Purple Parrot restaurant in Rehoboth Beach. We would meet almost every Sunday night. Occasionally other friends would join us. I recognized immediately that my friend had a personality that I didn’t feel comfortable with. Loud, caustic, and dismissive; he had a personality that I instantly found uncomfortable. However, I was willing to accept these personality characteristics, thinking I could change. That was my mistake. My discomfort would grow whenever my comments were dismissed airily as ill informed or non-consequential. From a matter as small as dismissing my claim that it was my pen that was with the restaurant check and not the restaurant’s pen to that it was my fault that I wasn’t served until half an hour after all the others at the table. I let my anger build up until it exploded in frustration. I tried to make it work. It didn’t. Thinking about my situation last night, I came to the conclusion that it looks pretty good. I still have my true friends, who know and accept me as I am. I have my passions, which are genealogy, photography, and gardening. I have a beautiful home and a partner who loves and respects me. Even though we have our differences from time to time, we know one another and still love each other, flaws and all. From most of my former friends, I have almost always taken something positive. From this friendship that is now lost, I have also taken something positive. He has shown me the therapeutic value of keeping a daily journal of my feelings, observations, and journey through life. It really is excellent therapy to write it all down. For that I give him thanks.

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