Sunday, July 17, 2005
Tonight, I find myself sitting on the couch watching an old John Wayne movie and thinking about those horrible moments in life we all experience - the relapse. Last night over a couple of beers Rachel and I discussed her upcoming road trip back home to Arizona and her 10 year high school reunion. The thing about high school reunions is everyone goes because your first foray into high school is one for which you are unprepared. The high school reunion is your chance to enter high school prepared. Armed with a better job, better body and better looking man on your arm, you can walk through those double doors knowing that no one is going to get the best of you. At least - that's the plan. But oddly enough, as I witnessed with Rachel, there's always a chance for the relapse. The thought alone that you may not know those people as well as you used to can open up those familiar doors of vulnerability and insecurity and it sucks. In your quest to be prepared - you find that you're just as unprepared as you were the first time. What if everyone is different? What if they don't like me? What if I don't like them? What if the one place that defined me so completely at some point in time - is suddenly gone? Then who am I? Today, I spent time talking with my Grandma and my Aunt about the troubles I've been having with my mother. I felt the distinct feeling lately of a relapse in depression coming from her. Desperate phone calls which consisted of 45 minutes of how disappointed she is with her life, how much unhappiness lay around every corner, how much she just wishes for a change. These ups and downs have been plaguing my mother for years. But she wasn't always this way. What had happened, I wondered, to the woman who raised three children while putting her broken heart aside? Where was the storyteller who could come up with the perfect bedtime story on the spot - one that was so funny we laughed ourselves to sleep and she went to the couch and cried until she had no more tears left? Where was my hero who held her head up high when the community that surrounded our ultra-orthodox day school branded her as unacceptable for being a convert no longer married to a pure blood Jew? She'd relapsed one day when no one was watching. She'd fallen backward and we'd all failed to hold out our hands. And now, she is fearful, over-cautious and lost. And what I thought was impatience in me to deal with her worries and her troubles - I now see as a sense of determination to show her that the idea of a relapse is - it's only temporary. And I felt it myself tonight. At our small gathering for Kim and Mike in anticipation of their wedding, I stood with the kids I'd always thought were cool in high school. The ones I always wanted to hang out with. And there I was, drink in hand, with the cool kids. Tagging along, just like the good ol' days. Except, they're really not all that cool. They can be klutzy and clumsy and wrong and foolish and downright dorky. I know better now. And it turns out they were just as insecure as I was. That's something I wasn't prepared for. After greasy food at a 24 hour joint, I could see small signs that Rachel had pulled herself out of her relapse. She dusted herself off and reminded herself that she is and always has been a good friend. She remembered that she's still a good person to know and that when it comes to high school - she's accomplished the most important challenge of all - she's not quite the same person. She's better. And that's the lesson of the relapse.