It's like the Golden Girls theme song...
We hung out the other night and I remembered how much I adore him and how much I learn from him. For so long I focused on moving forward, moving on, priding myself for always knowing when the writing is on the walls and getting out, not being afraid to embrace change and that everyone needed a little Chrissie inspiration in their lives.
I don't think I affect people that much. I just try to give little boosts of confidence here and there and share stories, good and bad. But it was still me focused on me and in some ways masking internal sadness that I never truly found job security and had to take matters into my own hands. I know to many it's ballsy and commendable, but it's scary too. Regardless, I always believe we have some control over our destinies and for a long time now, I've tried to be a positive influence and motivator for him.
In his presence the other night, I am humbled because he is older and wiser. He can see in me the deeply rooted burning issues and will laugh with me but also understand that they do exist and it's OK...but he gently reminds me to not over analyze situations, to relax. He allows me to be here now. He's that kind of person - I can tell him anything and he knows me well enough to talk me off ledges and call me on any BS. At times I've questioned the friendship, if it was real enough to withstand people moving on, but interestingly, it's made me more self aware. Once upon a time I would have projected unrealistic expectations onto him and onto the relationship and it would have imploded like a few previous friendships, but I suppose I am older and wiser too. I did that once last October - and we squabbled and I was so hurt I didn't speak to him for a week and cried - and then caught myself. Instead of internalizing emotions, I talked about it and I saw that for this to move forward I needed to relax a bit and let things just be. Accept this person for who he is.
And the best conversations and moments come out of me simply accepting and existing. It's a new thing for me :)
So I told him this. He tells me he's glad I feel this way, that he doesn't want to think he's the only one coming away with something. That when we sit and talk he forgets our age difference...except for when he sees all that I am doing in my life at the ripe age of 29 and what he has yet to do at 42. I smile and blush a little when I read that - I am my own worst critic, thinking what have I done? Most days I wish I was 42 with all that acquired knowledge. But I keep the faith - for me, for him, for others in my life. And I know the sense of awe we have in each other, for whatever our reasons, is real and sustains the friendship.
But then he offers me the biggest compliment anyone can ever give, one I heard once before, 10 years ago. He tells me "You do make me want to be a better man."
10 years later I am still filled with so much emotion that I can't find any words to express how that makes me feel.