Monday, January 16, 2006

Fighting friends

This weekend, I helped Spesh get ready for his move back to Israel. It's a big deal because he doesn't like to ask for help. "Except from you!" Dr. J observed. Maybe. Not that I mind. I don't think I've ever had a problem asking Spesh for help.

This weekend, I kept thinking about something he did for me about seven years ago.

The summer before I moved to DC, I had a job as an intern at the same place where I work now. I had an apartment, a crazy roommate and a car. Spesh had moved to the area two years earlier to attend UMD. He was working in Canada for most of the summer, but when he came back he stayed with me for a week while he hunted for an apartment. That summer we used my car to drive all over the world to buy things for his new place. Most notably a big piece of plywood (?) that he turned in to a chalkboard. (Math people need chalkboards.) We saw each other almost every day, even after he moved.

At the end of the summer, I had to drive back to Chapel Hill and pack up and move as soon as I arrived. I had a new place to live lined up, but I only had a weekend to move.

A couple of days before leaving DC, I said to Spesh, "Why don't you drive to CH with me and help me pack?" He said "Ok." And we were off.

On the drive down I tried to get him to open up. Even though we'd spent the last month in constant contact, he never talked about personal stuff. I thought the long drive would be the perfect opportunity for this. Spesh disagreed. I pushed him and he snapped at me. We were not happy campers.

When we got to CH, I dropped my stuff off at my new digs and we went to the old place to start packing. KJ had, upon my request, left a lot of empty boxes outside my door so we could get started right away. We also hit up all the nearby liquor stores for boxes.

I know that everyone hates to pack. So do I. It makes me a little nutso. I verge into the maudlin as handling every single object I own causes me to take dozens of little walks down memory lane. The process often leaves me teary and sentimental and, frankly, it's better if I do it on my own. However, I didn't have time for that. Unfortunately it didn't stop me.

I stood in my living room, surrounded by books and boxes and Spesh. I start telling him stories inspired by a scrap of paper or an object and he yelled at me, "J--you don't have time for that--just pack!"

I said, "You have to be nice to me. I just can't take it if you're mean. You need to stop. I can't take it." And he stopped.

When he left the next day, he hugged my new housemate (and our mutual friend) goodbye after she said, "You're not leaving like that--I get a hug." I didn't get one. I didn't speak to him until several months later when he called my housemate and asked to talk to me.

When I moved to DC, we picked up our friendship. There was never any doubt that we would. Or that we would continue to bicker. Our fighting was a source of amusement for our friends. How could we go on like that? But we did for years.

Eventually, I decided to stop fighting with him. He must have made the same decision, because for the last few years, we haven't fought at all. (Do we ever debate or playfully argue? Yes. Am I ever frustrated with him? Yes. Does he make me sputter with anger? No.) That just means I have more reason to miss him. Sigh.

I hope he's happy.

Grateful for: the end of the fighting.

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