an audience of one.
Somewhere, in the Official Book Of Personal Websites, there is an admonition about never creating posts for an audience of one. “The readership,” it bemoans, “think of the readership!” The OBPW (a righteous tome inwardly certain of its correctness and self-worth, very British in that regard) goes on to decry those who would veil the true nature of a public piece of writing behind anonymizing pronouns, because if writing is made available online, it should be as comprehensible as it is physically accessible.
Hogwash. I’ve been creaking around this domain for six years now, and while the OBPW makes a fantastic stepstool in my kitchen, it’s of little other practical use to me. I keep trying to run off all but the most patient of you lot; what’s one more post in that vein?
If this post is impenetrable to you, then worry not and read on; it’s not for you, but you’re welcome to tag along for the ride.
* * * * *
I am writing this for you, Patrick, precisely because I doubt you will acknowledge it, nor expect you to. We are both those kind of people, and we have that kind of friendship. It is for that reason that I am providing neither links nor explanation; if I thought I had permission to do so, I would explain more fully, but I don’t think I do.
I think Friday (tomorrow or today, depending on when you read this) is going to be a pretty difficult day for you. We all have tough days, but given what’s coming up in your life, I think you’re about to have a couple of weeks’ worth of them. Strung out. Possibly even in a row. You’ve had a hell of a brave face on for a while now; when I was in your place I hadn’t half your grace.
I’ve admired you for it. You made a difficult decision that you felt was right for you, and those you cared about, and you stuck with it. I will admit that I haven’t always agreed with it (to claim otherwise would be foolish and easily disproved) but I would be wrong not to publicly admit that the course you’ve chosen has done an immense amount of good for more people than just yourself.
One of the hallmarks of maturity is the willingness to put the greater good of others before the short-term good of yourself.
I wish I knew what you were going to need over the next few weeks. The problem is that I’ve been there myself, under somewhat different but stressful circumstances, and the only insight I have to offer is that nobody will be able to anticipate what you’ll need in the next few weeks, yourself included.
Over the past few months I’ve watched this saga unfold with mingled sadness and longing.
Sadness, because I know firsthand that these are, indeed, life-changing events, and that no matter what, you will come out of these experiences with life knowledge that will be alternately instructive and burdensome. You will remember what happens in these next few weeks, and for quite some time—possibly for the rest of your life—these events will serve as a point of demarcation. Other events in your life will be seen as having taken place very specifically before or after these events.
Longing, because I cannot see your situation without the lens of my own experiences. I envy you the favorable odds you’re facing, because I did not have those. As your friend, I would give anything to influence that outcome favorably. I don’t know her, but I don’t have to; I know you, and that is enough to care.
If I had only one piece of advice for you, it would be this: faith, family, friends. You’re going to need those resources, and you lucky sonofabitch, you’ve got all three. Use them, dammit. That’s what they’re for.
I’ve half-joked with many a friend in the past month that when I next see you, I plan to offer you what’s known as the “bottle of Scotch” treatment. It’s a simple curative, really. We’ll stop by a reasonably-priced liquor store, and we’ll wander to the Scotch section. I’ll pick out something that strikes a reasonable balance between price and taste. We’ll argue over who’s going to pay for it. (I’d like to pay for it, but whether or not you will let me is a matter of debate.) We’ll drive to the nearest place with comfortable couches, open said bottle of Scotch, pour into the two tumblers that we hopefully remembered to grab from a cupboard and even more hopefully remembered to fill with ice, and then …
… I don’t know. That’s the beauty of it. The next part’s up to you. Maybe we’ll toast life, or life’s foibles. Maybe we’ll have one drink and that’s it, or maybe we’ll drink until life makes sense to one of us, and then drink until the one who figures it out can explain it to the other one.
The point? There isn’t one; the process is the point. I’ll be making good on my promise I made you. I’ll be there, in whatever generally reasonable capacity you ask. (Cooking? Sure. Mowing your lawn? Right out.) The possibility of these actions solving a damn thing is pretty remote, but that’s not why I’ll do it.
It’s because this is what friends do.