Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Do It Together

Just in case you're putting me up on a pedestle, let me tell you that I was not my best self today. I did not love another like I would want to be loved.

The day started off well. I was really moved to read a bride write about a friend who helped with her wedding. It perfectly described my best friend Susan: "She didn't say, "What can I do, what can I do?" She just stood quietly by with her ears open and her mind working and stepped in as needed." I don't think I knew what a gift that was until it was put in just that way. I think back on all things I did myself because I was pretty sure that it would be more work to get someone on board and explain it and risk possible complications (which would suck time and energy) than it would be to just churn it out. Also, I had lots of people offer to help but when I asked some of them, they said, "Well, that's not really the kind of help I had in mind," either with words or with their behavior. Humorously, they often signed off the email or the phone call or the visit in which they declined to help with, "But let me know if you need anything!"

This did not bother me at all, actually. At another stage in my life it might but mantra of always trying to assume goodness first and try to puzzle out extenuating circumstances that caused the deviation later seemed to work with these cases. They were quickly forgiven for not bending to my will. Plus, maybe I didn't give folks enough permission and affirmation so that they felt like they could just step in and offer to do something specific. Also, lots of people did help when I asked. A roomful of yarmulke-covered heads is proof of that.

But Susan? She was the kind of friend who also listened and stepped in. And I love her for that.

I also love my friends Jake and Jess. They comment quite a bit around here so if you read the comments, you've probably already experienced their enthusiasm. When they came over the weekend before the wedding to help get stuff done, I had fallen into the pattern of assuming this was another ingenuous offer, which is completely contrary to the evidence of their lives and personalities.

So, after hanging out for a little while and shooting the shit and enjoying this dynamic because I assumed this was what I would be doing all afternoon, Jess looked at me and said, "No really. We want to help. Put us to work." So I did. Jake and Jacob made the quilt square display board. Jess worked on the final yarmulkes with me and we all made tablecloths.
So, when my chuppah stand went missing, and it was a three hour round-trip to rent one and I couldn't find anyone to do the same to return them on the day after Labor Day, I knew that if I called Jake and Jess for help, they would not let me down.
Here is Jake building my chuppah four days before the wedding while I looked on semi-helplessly from a pool of despair that I was wallowing in. Even with his own exhaustion from nursing school and frustration over design obstacles, he assured me that it was no big deal for he and Jess and Rachel and Cory to stain it on Saturday morning and assemble it on Sunday morning and disassemble it on Sunday night.

See how good it looks?See the yarmulkes, too?

So, you would think with all of those thoughts of love and cooperation floating around in my head, I would be primed for keeping my ears open, using my smarts and stepping in to help others, right?


Again, I started off well. On my way to my therapy appointment, I stopped at my brother and sister-in-law's place to use my spare key and drop off the chocolate ice cream I had made her. It smelled a little funny when I first walked in but my brother smokes and they have a dog that swims in Lake Michigan and they cook Indian food so I thought it was just a fluke combination of those elements. After I deposited the quart of ice cream in the freezer, I went to go say hi to the dog who was emotionally stuck to her bed (this is actually not all that weird: she's a rescue pit bull). On my way there, I notice a giant, stinky, runny, oddly gray pile of dog poo in the middle of the hardwood floor. Poor Beatrice had been so sick and not that I looked at her, she wasn't wagging her tail and she was ducking her head instead of looking at me expectantly for love, like she usually does. It was huge. More than the volume of ice cream I brought. And - the longer I was there - just as hugely disgusting to smell. It was starting to make me heave a little.

Because of my thoughts this morning, I really wanted to stay and clean it up. It was what I would have wanted someone to do for me. I even started to problem-solve about finding something to scoop it up with since a paper towel just wasn't going to cut it. Then, my eyes really processed the pool of liquid excrement surrounding the pile and between that and my olfactory experience, I was practically pushed out the door by my self-preservation instincts.

Not a good neighbor. As Anne Lamott would say, Jesus is sucking down a little medicinal whisky right now because he's so disappointed.

Poor Beatrice has to experience unfounded doggy shame all day and my brother had to clean it up. I called him at work to apologize and warn him what was waiting for him. (Can you imagine having a bad day and coming home to that without warning?) I then promised that I would never do that to Baby Shashi once s/he gets born.

Laugh all you want but some days we just cannot be our best selves. I thank God that Jess and Jake and Susan and all the other folks who helped with my wedding had better days then than I had today.

1 comment:

Jake and Jess said...

you, my friend, are lovely. know that we love you both.