One of the things that I really like about my station in life since leaving government service is that I get to be around young folks a lot more than I used to back when I was slinging paper in the Federal Building. I think it keeps me young. And I think I'm so much outside the little boxes of a lot of these kids that they like being around me. What little success I managed to obtain as a faux teacher last semester was for this reason alone. I firmly believe this.
There were days that I wore a suit to school. I was terra incognito.
Anyway, I heard through the grapevine that one of my young adult friends had sustained "a broken heart." These are his words.
Bummer. Been there. Not lately, Praise God. But I have been there. As have we all.
I knew that he liked this girl. His face always lit up when he spoke about her. Gone on at least one trip together of which I was aware. And then something happened I guess.
And now the boy's heart is broken.
I did not let the fact that he had not actually applied for solace from me deter me from horning in. In my text, as I said totally unbidden by the kid, I told him that I was sorry. I told him that he would get over it. That I was here for him. What else can somebody say?
Well, "what else" might be something like unto this. Pain is pain and I am not discounting his. He's a sensitive guy. And I mean that in the best artistic sense and not in the "Why do you hate my cats?" sense.
But one of the good things about being my age instead of 25 is that I know the sun will come up in the morning. I have the balm of 35 years of perspective to get me through the rough patches. He doesn't. I've been 25. Don't want to go back.
I remember that 60 Minutes did a story on some famous soprano whose name escapes me. She was videoed doing a master class for young singers. A young woman sang something by Stephen Sondheim for her. Nothing as dreadful as "Send In The Clowns" but something equally overwrought and New Yorkish.
The famous soprano said something along the lines of "Dear, you were just wonderful. But you will not be able to really appreciate what you just sang until you have experienced the losses that will come your way the next 20 years." There's something to that.
Been texting back and forth tonight with my friend B. She lost her husband about a year ago. She's getting through it. But her grief at times is like unto heat waves coming off a country road in August.
When you get to be my age you reach an uneasy accommodation with pain and loss because it is the way of the world. Mother's people are not going to be around forever. I know this. It is the natural order of things. I hate it. But I expect it.
That's perspective. You don't have that at 25. My young buddy is neither a narcissist nor a pain in the ass. He would not equate his pain with the pain of someone who has lost a spouse of 40 years. But still. He's a hurtin' cowboy and I feel badly for him.
What to do? We're guys. We don't really do post-mortems when shit like this happens. Most likely I will eventually offer to buy him some kinda crafty beer somewhere.
And I won't say much to him other than "It will be alright. Really it will."
The sun will come up in the morning. Just like it has every day the 60 years I have graced this planet.
It will be alright. Really it will. Been there. Lived to tell about it. And I'm glad that I'm not 25.