While doing a bit of cleanup in Outlook the other day (an endless, endless process), I noticed a folder called 'Out' that I could not recall having seen before, ever (although it's evidently been there for years). So I dug in.

And there were six months' worth of messages, sent between the day I switched from Pine(!) to Eudora and the day I switched from Eudora to Outlook, somehow archived without my knowledge. I've been reading through them over the past few days, a process that has allowed me (for better or worse) to reconstruct that period in my life job-wise, boy-wise, and friend-wise. It's sort of fascinating, I think, to look back on a you that you'd sort of forgotten.

Many of the messages are part of a continuous back-and-forth between my friend Monica and me. Monica was great--just endlessly fun, sarcastic, full of good humor and a true sense of adventure. She and Shayne and I fast became an inseparable triumvirate.

But then she decided to move to Alaska to be with her boyfriend Terry, whom she really dug, although Shayne and I could never figure out why. (He'd done a lot of assholic things to her in the past and did not, generally speaking, seem to be the sort of fellow one might move to frigid climes to be with.) She was leaving, and we were crushed. That disappointment translated to desperate (and, of course) useless attempts to get her to stay, mainly by dissing Terry but also by plaintively whining about what her departure would do to us.

And then, somehow, we realized we were making things worse. Better, it seemed, to let her leave as a friend than to risk alienating her and then losing her anyway. So I sat myself down and wrote this:

I vow

--that although the T word makes me squirm, I will not retch when I hear it, and I will remember that it is music to Monica's ears;

--that although nothing makes me more sad right now than to think that Monica will be gone in a week, I will remember that she's going not to make me depressed but to make herself happy;

--that although I want to do everything in my power to make her stay, I will send her off with my best wishes;

--that I will remember that I, too, picked up my life and moved to a totally different place, leaving behind people who loved me, and I will remember that we have all weathered this separation;

--that I will recognize that who we love may not always be who others love, or who others want us to love;

--that until Monica leaves, I will hold my peace in terms of her going, and if I cannot think of anything positive to say about Alaska or Terry, I will simply talk endlessly about myself.

That is all.

Love and kisses,
Your idol

Reading those words again the other day reminded me of how much I miss Monica, and how sorry I was to see her go (although, ultimately, Alaska didn't work out, and she's gone on to do some amazing things). They also reminded me that the vows I made to Monica do hold--must hold--for my other friends, too, especially now that romance is in the air.

There's a fine and difficult line (I think of piano wire, or a laser) between what we hypothetically want for our friends and how well we're able to deal when they get it. It's entirely too easy for me to allow a friend's gain (especially in the relationship arena--more time as someone's amour=less time as my friend, dammit) be my loss. Because that's not how it works--or not entirely. There must be--and can be--a balance between holding hard and letting go. I found it with Monica; I just need to find it again now.

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