So, speaking of weird friendship, here's one episode in the increasingly idiosyncratic way in which Metis and I relate to one another.
I've mentioned several times my intention to attend a festival in another state, last month, with my two daughters. Metis was going to the festival early and offered to set up a campsite for us.
Now, Metis had been hearing from an ex bf of hers, one about whom she still had strong and mixed feelings. She knew he would be at the festival, but was hoping very much to avoid him.
When I arrived with the girls late on Friday, I was misdirected as to where to drop my camping gear before parking the car, and there was only spotty cell phone reception and . . . well, I finally managed to get in touch with Metis and arrange a meeting point.
She was waiting there . . . with her ex bf. In fact, I'll just refer to him as X. He helped out in hauling our camping gear to the campsite, and generally seemed good natured about the whole thing.
I went in expecting Metis and I would be independent of one another at the festival, though we would arrange to spend some time together and to meet up for certain happenings. We did some of that, but she also surprised herself by spending a lot of time with X.
When I talked to her about him, she expressed some reservations. She had been caught off-guard by his friendliness and affection.
I found out later that, in the weeks after they broke up, a year and a half ago, she had been compelled to establish very clear boundaries with him. They would get together then, and he would express affection toward her, hold her hand, and so on. She called a stop to that, at the time; it only confused things, when she very much needed clarity.
He wasn't happy about letting her set boundaries, she told me; he resented her having "the upper hand", as he put it.
Well, at the festival, those boundaries became very . . . wobbly. Metis knew there would have to be some kind of reckoning, a hard conversation about what it all meant, but her older feelings for him were stirred up.
Metis and I spent even less time together at the festival than I'd thought - a fact about which Metis later expressed regret - though we had a very fine hour of sitting in the sun on a frosty morning, talking about X and relationships and other matters, and we did get to dance together and listen to some very good music.
I should say that I enjoyed the festival on my own account, and my daughters had a really great time; they especially enjoyed the independence that becomes possible in such a setting. I was, at one point, a bit sore at Metis for "abandoning" me . . . but got over that as quickly as I could manage.
In the days after the festival, back home, Metis texted that she'd been in contact with X again, and asked for some clarity about his intentions. She expressed how surprised she had been by his affection, and what it had begun to stir up in her.
He replied, to paraphrase slightly, that what happened at the festival should stay at the festival.
Metis was outraged that he could be so callous about it, and told him so. His response? He was surprised that she would be hurt and angry, and offered - lamely, I thought - to talk sometime.
I met up with Metis for coffee one afternoon that week and we talked about the whole situation. She told me she had written a long, angry email, but she didn't want to send it until she'd had a chance to think about it.
A little later, she sent me the email, to see what I thought.
I hope I never make Metis that angry.
I suggested, as gently as I could, that perhaps she should not send that particular email. It was an email she needed to write for herself, I suggested, but not the one that X needed to read.
I joked that what I really wanted was to drop the email into a Word document and mark it up for her.
"Do you know how happy that would make me?" She texted. "And with that, our relationship reaches a new level of weirdness."
I agreed to edit the email, and I agreed about the weirdness, like some really twisted retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac.
Unlike Cyrano, I didn't write any text. I really just suggest some changes to the email, mostly deleting the attacks and the insults, leaving in her account of her own reactions and responses, including her hurt and anger and dismay.
She edited the email and sent it - the final version was still pretty harsh, more so than anything I would have sent - and hasn't really heard from X since.
I think the weirdest thing about this whole episode is how it did not and still does not feel all that weird. I mean, I can see that it would look really weird from the outside - it is off-the-charts unconventional - but it makes a daffy kind of sense from the inside.
Last edited by hyperskeptic; 11-14-2013 at 12:41 PM.