Sunday, December 01, 2013

3806 Scary World

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I've been searching the internet for people I hadn't heard from or maybe thought about in ages.  It started out as plain curiosity.  Where are they now?  What are they doing?

Men are easier to find than women, because their names don't much change.

It has become scary.

So far, every man I've been able to locate whom I had ever dated before Jay died --- is dead, with the sole exception of Ex#2.  (And him, I don't understand how he's still alive.)

I'm beginning to feel somehow responsible.


Things got weird in another area, too.  I have written in the past about a friend from work and also from Mensa.  I'm the first she called when her husband died, and I helped her through all the messy legal and emotional details that entailed.  She was so grateful she said she would put my favorite charities in her will, donations to be made in my name.  I gave her brain tumor research and doctors without borders.  By the way, she is fabulously wealthy.  We're talking original Picassos and Miros on her walls.  She has no family except a grand-niece somewhere.

She'd always been a drinker, and after her husband died she started drinking heavily.  She started calling friends in our group at 3 and 4 am to chat.  You'd explain to her that you were sleeping and had to get up in the morning, so, uh, goodnight, and hang up on her.  She was hard of hearing and tended to talk right over you, so ... the phone would ring again, "We got cut off!"  That would go on and on all night.  If you didn't turn the phone off it began to sound like an alarm clock.

Our friendship ended when she went to a Mensa party that was supposed to start at 7 pm, and showed up already hammered at the hostess' house at 7 am, oops, and then just stayed, drinking the whole time.  At the end of the evening no one wanted her to drive home, but she fought anyone who tried to take her keys and the hostess had had it with her and refused to keep her overnight.  So I volunteered (without her knowledge or permission) to follow her, to make sure she made it home.

I think my being a discreet distance behind her infuriated her, and kept her alert and on the road.

When I got home I found several messages on my machine, and then the phone rang again and it was her.  She was furious that I'd had the nerve to follow her home.  To treat her like she was incapable.  She yelled at me a while, and then hung up.

I don't think she ever went to another Mensa event, and at any rate, never spoke to me again unless it was the wee hours of the morning and she was too drunk to remember she was mad at me.

Then I moved to New Jersey.

About two years ago I got an email from a mutual friend.  He told me that she had asked for my phone number.  She had apparently tried to call the country house and the phone had been disconnected.  He said he figured he should check with me first.  "Is she still calling people in the middle of the night?"  "Yep."  "Thanks for asking first.  No, don't give her my new number.  Tell her you simply don't have it or can't find it."

And that was the end of that.

Well, last week I got to wondering about her.  She's only maybe two years older than I, but she has always been in poor health, has some kind of balance problems and falls a lot even when she'd been sober, and now with the drinking...  So I searched the internet.  She's still alive.  Ok, end of thought.

Until yesterday.

 I got an email from her.

A strange email, to the account I rarely use anymore.  She even sounds sort of sober...


...the Subject line says: "Hey, are you still out there?  Let me know.  The reason I am writing (besides just wanting to reconnect) is that some time ago I told you that I wanted..."

The body of the email, the text part, is completely blank.  She apparently wrote the entire note on the subject line, which, of course, got cut.  (Sheesh.  How do you even do that?)

Oh, cripes.

I thought about it most of yesterday and today.  It's ten years since her husband died and she wrote the new will, so I suspect her lawyer has told her it's time to review it, and maybe she wants to check my choice of charities.  I don't know.  I'd have to respond to her to find out what she wants to say.

I am torn.  I feel like the right thing to do is to respond.
I do not want to reconnect!
I'd rather she just thought I am lost.
But that's a bad thing to do, to hide from her like that.
It's a moral dilemma.
I do still feel some pity for her --- she's so alone.
She has no interests, no activities, no family.
But I need to protect myself from the suction of her life.

I asked Daughter, who tends to be one of those maddeningly black or white people, and she said I have no obligation to respond.  The woman cut me off a long time ago when I had been perhaps her best friend, and I can leave it at that.  She chose that loss, that path.  My only loss might be some large contributions to charity, maybe, if that's what the note was about.  So I can choose to not respond without guilt.

So, what do you think?


Lisa :-] said...

The thing about email is it gives you more oportunties than a phone conversation. You can explain the parameters of whatever relationship you are willing to have with her, explain WHY you won't share your phone number with her, mention the phone calls, etc. Or not. You could just have as terse and undetailed a conversation as you like. You need not divulge any information you don't want to, and in the end, all she still has is an email address on an account that you seldom use. Seems like you would have all the control on this one...

Anonymous said...

This is easy for me, Hell NO. I am maddeningly black and white like your daughter. Anyone who brings that kind of drama into my life is quickly and cleanly excised. My one full sibling is not allowed to have my phone number or addy because of his past multiple and persistant indiscretions involving alcohol and illegal drugs.

There is no guilt in separating yourself from that kind of nonsense.