Tonight I had dinner with some girlfriends, of varying closeness. It was interesting to see that at different times in my life I had been extremely close to one or the other. I think I took for granted at the time that our friendships and closeness would last forever, but of course not very many do. It felt bittersweet--fun to relive the past but bitter to realize that most of the conversation and interactions tonight were surfacey. Nothing serious, no real, deep, genuine soul-baring conversations. Tonight's dinner was the kind of outing that left me feeling empty. I'm sorry to say those happen far more than I'd like... but happy to notice that they are decreasing in number, on purpose, I think.
Right before dinner (which was right next to my old work office and still gives me PTSD every time I walk past) I stopped in to visit my favorite ex-coworker, Wallace. I have often puzzled over how I instinctively know this to be true. I see a lot of my old coworkers on a regular basis and I am always happy to drink with them, eat with them, share life with them, but no one inspires the same adoration in my heart more than Wallace.
Tonight I think I figured out. In those two godawful years working at that job, everyone was a taker. Even the ones I hang out with all the time. They liked sitting in my office, chatting it up, sucking up the little good will and positive energy I had and would ALWAYS use me as a bitchbag sound board. I get it. I wasn't busy. I had time. I was nice. I listened. I went to lunch with them when no one else could/would. They would come in, dump, complain, and take, take, take.
But not Wallace. When I was down he wouldn't talk about it directly but instead say something funny to take the edge off, something to help me see it in a different light. He'd breeze into my office with these interesting tidbits he found on yahoo and share these stories he found fascinating, not really knowing if I cared at all. Once I went to Jamaica and mentioned to him that I was going swimming with dolphins and he immediately found a youtube video of an aroused dolphin trying to rape a human woman, and had a urine drug test specially ordered and waiting for me when I got back. The day I got back, he pantomined me smoking a lot of weed. Not really sure why this was hilarious or particularly heart warming to me, but it has stuck with me after all this time. Wallace was able to diagnose my relationship with a now-ex-boyfriend without knowing our history or that we were even dating as doomed from a 2 minute conversation. He has a keen eye without being invasive or nosy or solicitous.
And when I hit rock bottom, he would say something bracing--just a phrase that would lift me out of my profound funk. He wouldn't address my tears or pity me. He would give me a tool to help me get past the obstacle and then breeze right back out my office. Wallace is not a taker. He isn't really a clear giver either, although he was probably the only person in the office who offered any guidance when bossman was out of the office (so...always). He is Wallace. And in merely being himself, being there, he brought such great joy to my life, enough to help me make it 2 years in that hellhole.
Which brings me to tonight. The hour I spent sitting in his office laughing, chatting, sharing and just marveling at this thing called living life was far more soul-enriching than the 3 hours I spent laughing with these girlfriends (I suppose not all laughter is considered equal in this sense). I think the difference is that they were not there during the most dark, fiery formative parts of myself (personally and professionally) and Wallace was not only there but gave of himself in a way that was both separate and involved with my formation. And I'm learning to be grateful for these people, pillars of self-awareness and compassion who choose to be there for me, with me, unobtrusive yet solidly there.
That's how tonight was not a wash, but a complete blessing. Not for the three hours of margaritas and Mexican food, but for the one hour in the very warm cramped space that is Wallace's 10th floor office.
... and maybe the pineapple infused tequlia shots. Those were pretty tasty.