• She is such a perfectionist that she will just keep working until she reaches her own finish line. She will not stop to eat or sleep, and even times when everyone else tells her “stop, it’s good enough” she will ignore it. One example of this is that she decided to build her fiancé a Tuscan Jacuzzi for a wedding present. It turned out to take much more time to finish than she first thought, so the week before the wedding, she worked 15+ hours a day on it, then 5+ hours on the wedding, and occasionally slept. She didn’t sleep at all the night before her wedding; instead, she was in the back yard setting concrete until dawn! Also, when she and I had an organizing business together, we had one job where after 14 or so hours, both clients were satisfied, and I was exhausted. She told us to sit on the couch while she ran around making everything just so – she even assured the clients they wouldn’t have to pay her for that time.
• Anytime she’s not sunk into her perfectionism, she is an intensely devoted mother, going to great lengths to spend time with her kids and encourage them to be kids. She allows them to choose to do dangerous things, like climbing things you’re not supposed to climb, or doing skateboarding tricks, but will fiercely defend them if she thinks they’re not getting fair treatment by others. She also loves all children, and often if her own children go off on their own, she might be found playing with some random kid. I have a picture of her somewhere with hands to her mouth as she’s simulating a fire engine siren – and she’s surrounded by little children all doing the same thing. She often gets a far-off look in her eyes when playing with, or talking about, children that makes her look quite childlike in itself. One of my favorite memories is when she convinced me to go skating with her – she’s a devotee of old-style quad skates instead of inlines, and we went to the elementary school parking lot to practice. The lot had a big sign up saying “No skateboarding/skating” but even though her own kid was a student, she flouted the rules. Something about how free she looked reminded me of how I used to feel when I was a kid … and it seems as if I have a hard time achieving that feeling on my own, whereas it comes naturally to her.
• She is always late. Friends have taken to telling her to meet anywhere from half an hour to even two hours earlier than they actually expect her to show up. She knows this, and will take pains to get out the door earlier, but it never happens. There were innumerable times that I would help her get ready, but even that didn’t seem to help. It was always something different that held her up, but that she was never ever ever on time made me eventually wonder if she just had some kind of mental block to getting places on time.
• She loves to make plans, and once made she’ll likely go through with it, but she also loves to add on. Every new possibility, rather than suggesting a new course of action, instead suggests a broadening of the already-chosen plan. If she has to cut something out, she goes to great lengths to compensate for the loss, such as when we wanted to visit the Statue of Liberty and couldn’t, she apologized to her kids several times and made sure they still got to do things they’d like, such as visit a local skate park.
• She has always been very independent. She took the earnings from her first job, put on a business suit, and got a dealership to sell her a motorcycle on credit when she was only 16. As soon as she graduated, she moved from Pennsylvania to Florida and built her life up from scratch. After her husband abandoned her and her first baby, she continued in her paralegal studies. When her second husband turned out to be abusive, she left him even though she had a baby and a small child and no place to go.
• She tries to find creative expression in everything she does. In biology class, she would sketch the makeup of cells with exacting detail, and even color the sketches. When renovating a house, she resurfaced the floor of an entire room with a pattern of tiles and colored glass beads set in a spiral pattern. When it came time to paint the last wall and they only had bits of different colors of paint left, she made an expressionistic mural out of all the colors, simulating both birds in flight and flowers with simple shapes (her husband wanted to mix all the paint together and paint the wall one color, but she knew it would just be a pale shit brown!).
• She loves to go dancing, she loves parties big and small, and she enjoys altering her consciousness. I don’t think she’d ever have a problem with alcohol abuse, but she did go through periods where she smoked pot constantly – several times every single day. She dragged me out dancing and I learned that I enjoy it, but there was always something about her that magnetized people – occasionally I’d have to fend off really drunk frat boys who thought they could just come up and grind on me on the dance floor, but she was constantly having to put up with persistent admirers of several kinds. At parties, she always seems to be in tune with the atmosphere – if it’s bawdy and raucous, she’s down with it, but if it’s quiet and laid-back, she’s happy quietly sipping from her wine glass, too.
• She has a particular way of defending her sense of justice. She’ll stick up for the underdog, but if she sees herself as having the advantage, she will be rather unsympathetic to *that* underdog. She wanted to become a paralegal so she could do good things in the justice system, then gave it up because once she saw the reality of the system she didn’t think she’d be effective. But there were several occasions when her outrage was stirred that I tried to offer an alternative viewpoint that could reframe the other person’s motivations, and she resisted seeing things any way but her own. (damn, that seemed like a clunky run-on sentence)
• She considers herself spiritual, and values it highly in others, but it’s a vague kinda Buddhist-themed variety. The second time we had a falling-out and then made up, she told me that it had always concerned her that it wasn’t a part of my worldview. One of the reasons she was attracted to the man who became her third husband was because he’d trained to be a swami in India (although he turned out to be one of the more hypocritical characters I’ve ever had the misfortune to personally interact with). In a counterpart to creativity, she tries to see spirituality in everything around her.
• She’s very focused on health. Without her parents’ permission, she joined a gym to work out when she was still in high school. During the time that I knew her, she was a cardio kickboxing instructor and got her certification as a personal trainer (although she never actually hired herself out). She became a vegetarian, although she still eats seafood on occasion, and endured years of struggle raising two sons before finally allowing them to eat meat. Last I heard she is still raising her youngest daughter vegetarian (that one wasn’t resisting the idea last I heard, though). She’s also grown organic gardens, sprouted, and juiced. She loves rising to physical challenges, and even when I was in very good shape she could dust me, be it in biking, dancing, yardwork, etc. Her stamina is legendary – she once admitted that I was the only person who’s ever even come close to keeping up with her, and believe me, I felt my shortcomings keenly in this area.
• Despite her independent spirit, she seems to have a hard time giving up on bad relationships. At one point she was dating a woman who was very abusive to both her and her sons, but even though I and other friends pointed it out to her, she wouldn’t cut the woman out of her life. That woman has come back into her life several times, and every time it always spells bad drama, but she won’t give up on the girl. She once told me it’s because turning someone in need away is against her spiritual principles, even though she acknowledges that it’s had a net negative effect on her and her family. Alternately, and ironically, the three times she and I have had a falling-out, she’s wanted to cut me *entirely* out of her life. The difference being that I’ve always been a huge boon to her, supporting her projects and pitching in with her family chores so that we could have more time to go off and have fun together. The only thing I can think of is that in the abusive woman’s case, she sees that she can help, whereas in my case, she feels like I don’t need her, and she can’t accept it. The times that my life has diverged from hers have been times that she felt I was abandoning her, as if I owed her something. And it’s probably the one reason I’ve held off trying to patch things up again – as much as I fuckin’ miss her.
I’ve been trying to figure out what her IM could be for a year now; but it’s been even longer that I’ve wondered what it is about our interactions that seems so intensely positive and negative at the same time. I’ve had both the best and the worst times of my life with this woman. It means that even after two years of no contact with her, things remind me of her on a daily basis. I’m really frustrated at constantly telling myself “no” when I think that I could just drop her a phone call or email, but I’m also not willing to set myself up for another breakdown of our relations. The only other friend I’ve had who’s been on-again-off-again is the only other close female friend I’ve ever had, and that was all about her keeping things up; *that* one I *never* had much in common with, and those fallings-out seemed to have to do with having spent too much time in proximity than anything. The friend described above I’ve lived with for 7 months the first time and a year and a half the second time; she and I can take a lot more proximity.
Anybody care to offer some insights?