Dearest Rachel –
I’m wearing shorts this morning. Not because it’s hot out today – although I’m to understand that it certainly will be later on in the day (hey, it’s July, what do you expect?) – but because I’m meeting Lars for a walk around the forest preserve, and I don’t want to disappoint him.
You see, he got these shorts for me out of concern for my welfare; he just couldn’t see me walking around with him in 90° heat while wearing jeans and a cotton T-shirt. I keep telling him that I used to do that all the time back in my marching band days (and, in fairness, some of my bandmates wondered about that back then, too, but let it slide. After all, we would be performing wearing long pants in events like the July 4th parade, so even they might have conceded it to be got practice, like using ankle weights), but he insists that it’s not good for me to do that.
And he may well be right; he is a doctor, after all, so there are certain aspects of biology and physiognomy that he knows far better than I do. It’s just that I would rather wear what I feel comfortable with. And before you point out that I’d be uncomfortable after a couple of hours walking around in the hot sun wearing my preferred choice of clothing (which I will not deny), I’d point out that after a couple of hours in the hot sun, one is going to be uncomfortable no matter what one is wearing.
I’m prickly like that, it would seem. There are times when I go against what may well be better for me simply because it’s what I’m being told to do, and I don’t like that. It strains my relationships with those that are offering these ‘helpful’ suggestions, at a time when I can ill-afford to damage those relationships. I didn’t need anyone else when I had you at my side (although for all I know, you might well have been concerned about my lack of outside friends, and how much I relied upon you to be my one true friend. On the other hand, maybe it pleased you that I wasn’t the type to go ‘out with the boys’ like other husbands. I’ll never know at this point), but now that you’re gone, I have to cultivate other relationships to make up for the difference.
And some of that means going against my nature. It means getting used to people with tastes and opinions different than my own, and which I’m not accustomed to. You and I had our differences, of course, but we eventually discovered each other’s limits and learned to live within them. To this day, thanks to your allergy of cucumbers (I know that’s not quite what it was, but it’s the easiest way to explain your reaction to them), if I bite into a sushi roll that has them, it just feels wrong, for example. But that took some time to understand and get used to. Developing new (or strengthening already existing) relationships means doing something similar with each individual, and shifting adaptations from person to person. It’s a disorienting process, especially given how set in my ways I am – to say nothing of the fact that there are some times when I would just as soon not put in that kind of effort. And additionally, there are times when I’m just as happy to be alone – although those times are fewer than the amount of time I’m actually alone, so I need to keep learning how to deal with others.
You had this talent of being able to deal with prickly people, some of whom almost no one else was able to. I don’t know how you did it, being able to hug these human cacti without getting stuck with needles, but you did it. And as one of those folks (so I’m not about to name names when I’m little better than the others), I’m grateful for it.
I just wish you could have, er, stuck around. Because we need more people like you.