Friday, November 23, 2012

When Everything Feels Like the Movies



I don't know where to start with this post at all. AT ALL. But it's tugging on me and I know it's one of those times when I need to just "write it out". Honestly, I knew several months ago that at some point, this post would come. It's just a big, vulnerable full of emotion thing that feels like trying to put paper and pen to big chunks of my heart. So, there's all that. And there's also this: I have a huge fear I'll be misread. I'm afraid people will read things in this post that aren't there and that's kind of devastating to me to think about. It's probably why, though I've written about Ellis here and here, I do so pretty infrequently. And maybe this post won't be anything new. Maybe I'll say things y'all have heard and it'll be of no shock. But I've felt people's judgment over our friendship through the years, and more pointedly after Peyton and I got married. I have to admit a friendship like mine and El's is pretty much an exception in mine and Peyton's marriage. I don't think either of us would approve of the other going out and actively starting a friendship of this level of intensity with someone of the opposite sex. But it's there. And it's always been there and there's no way Peyton or I felt like any change was needed. I'm so thankful for Peyton for not asking that of me. And (I'll get to this more), but I'm deeply grateful to Minda for the same thing.

I need to tell y'all about Ellis.

When I was thirteen and my parents made me change schools I felt so alone. Honestly, I'm not sure if I've ever experienced an isolation of that strength at any other time in my life. I felt lonely and sad and like no one understood me. C.S. Lewis tells us that "friendship is born the moment one person says to another 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one". I've felt this connection with a number of people over the years, but probably never as powerfully as I did with Ellis my seventh grade year. It started out like this: "Perry" (my maiden name) and "Purdie" are right next to each other, and incidentally our lockers were, too. I thought he was cute and I liked that he was different from all the "cool" kids trying to be stylish in their Polo and Birkenstock and Abercrombie and Timberland. And then our locker-side conversations became lunchroom conversations which became phone conversations. Long phone conversations.

We both over thought a lot of things (read: every damn thing). We both felt things deeply (read: a little too deeply). We were both very analytical (read: to the point of driving people- our parents, our friends, each other nuts). He didn't seem like anyone I knew my age. Heck, he didn't seem like anyone I knew period.

Remember how I said that I felt things a little too deeply? Well, that translated to me thinking he was my soul mate, the person I was supposed to be with forever, my future husband, everything. I was frantically fearful of the idea of him not being in my life and terrified that something (or someone) would pull us apart.  Here's the thing: when you find someone who is alot like you, it's usually best *not* to involve yourselves romantically. I think El knew that at the time. I'm sure Deidra, his mom, knew that at the time. It took me a truly difficult relationship with a (in some ways) similar person to figure this all out. Over the past few months especially,  but most of our friendship and all of my adult life, I have consistently thanked the Lord that the thus far most lasting friendship of my life and arguably one of the most beautiful relationships of my life was not sacrificed on the alter of teenage hormones and insecurities.

I'll spare you the details of me chasing him into the boy's room [his assumed place of solace] and confessing my thankfully unrequited love for him. Or of the time a few years later when I did what I'm glad I did once and far all and stuttered and stumbled and leaned in and kissed him....on the teeth [that moment was the decisive moment when I felt everything other than friendship leave and I knew I'd always be perfectly content to call him nothing other than my best friend]. I'll spare you the details of the (numerous) times when I lost all sense of emotional control our senior year and had multiple breakdowns over the fact that we would be miles apart and wouldn't see each other daily [sometimes he humored me and let the tears fall on his shoulders and sometimes he told me I was being absurd and needed to get a grip]. I'll spare you the details of the times when I [shamefully] ruined his relationships because of my fear that "things wouldn't be the same" and because of my jealousy for his attention. And the times when I'd ask him to promise me that if Peyton died we'd get married and life a celibate life [because hello, gross!] because I didn't feel like it would be appropriate to live life as room mates and he was the next best thing to Peyton [yeah, that was unfair]. And the time when he finally told me I had to quit talking about that, that in all likelihood Peyton would be fine and something terrifying did happen he'd help me in every way he could, but I couldn't depend on him the way I was asking him to let me. I'll spare you the details of the time in college [praise the Lord, we finally ended up at the same place!] when we met for an early breakfast and I, wearing gym shorts and a v-neck men's undershirt, stumbled to the cafe just out of bed and he said, with absolute seriousness of purpose, "Den. I really like your shirt. Where'd you get it?'. Okay, I didn't spare any details there. Because it was hella funny.

So, I spared you most of high school and college and we're basically present day. As y'all know, El walked my mom down the aisle at my wedding, as my brother would do, had been blessed with  one. He stood on Peyton's side, only because I felt that was appropriate as they had grown to be close friends themselves. And when Ann Peyton was born, though it's really not typical of our faith tradition to do such, we asked him to be her godfather. Peyton and I had several conversations about who we would ask to be her godmother and I remember finally settling on something. "Whoever Ellis ends up marrying can be her godmother. If she's good enough for Ellis, she's good enough for our daughter".

The truth is she's more than good enough. I could hardly keep it together at the shower my mom and I gave for Minda this past weekend.  Especially at the end, she said something that solidified so firmly one reason I adore her so. She told me something that made me realize to a greater degree, even though I already knew it so well, that she completely trusted me and that mine and Ellis's friendship was something that she was entirely comfortable with. I've had many conversations with her and she's grown to be a true friend in a very real sense, but that evening I just had such a peace that one of the most precious relationships of my life was safe in her hands. And I wanted to weep joyfully over it. And maybe I did, just a little.

That's not the only reason she's special.  Listening to her the other day, telling stories about my best friend, I saw what I've seen a hundred times- how perfect they are for one another. She and Peyton are very similar in some ways, I've noticed. They are both laid back and care free. Easy, peaceful, calm. In a similar way to what I've felt with Peyton, I've watched Minda bring a light-heartedness to El's life that's such a gift. Their proposal story in itself is such a testament to her sense of humor and easy nature. So many things are. I know some of it is probably growing up or learning how to manage anxiety, as it was for me. But some of it is having a companion who is so different than you and who brings out a part of you you didn't know existed. So while "What! You too?" is a great basis for a friendship, "What! I can really be this different from all I've known?" is maybe a better basis for a lifelong partner. I'm so glad I found someone who could understand me when I needed it so desperately (and someone I still confide in about heavy things), but I'm also immeasurably thankful he found what I found- someone to lighten his load and help him not take himself (and life) so seriously.

Titular reference from the first song El and I danced to, ever. Things aren't this beautiful even in the movies, are they?

1 comment:

Elle said...

This is so special. You are incredibly blessed. Thank you for sharing your soul. I love reading your blog.