POSITIVELY FOURTH STREET

The guys in recovery call it “letting go of resentments.”  It’s like drinking the poison, they warn, yet expecting the other guy to die.   They’re right.

 

I used to rant to Preston (a decade ago): that this person did this to me, or that person did that.  His response never changed.  Ever:  “Victims don’t stay sober.”

 

We’d lunch at Elsner’s back then—Wednesdays—all men.  I was sitting next to Sterling, complaining of my ex.  Silver-haired, perhaps my age, he was already veteran.

 

“You know how you let go of something?” he asked (rhetorically) to my silence. First a pause and then his answer:  “You just…let…go,” he smiled, dropping keychain to the floor.

 

     “You got a lot of nerve to say you are my friend

     When I was down you just stood there grinning.”

 

I’d known Dick as long as anyone.  Longer.  The union cemented by our parents, glued by time, had indeed recycled through children.   It was a friendship bonded in the 50’s at Presque Isle that survived not only his private school and California days of the 60’s, but even Dick’s lifelong abstention from sports.  From parents’ divorces to introducing his wife, there was always a connection.

 

Until there was not.

 

On September 6, 1995, pursuant to written agreement, my marriage ended.  Dissolved.  Notta.  Note further that on that day, through words unspoken by decree, She got custody of Dick.  It was a hurt I neither expected nor readily resolved.  With the precision of a surgeon’s knife I’d been cut out, exorcized, eliminated by a core friend.

 

Details matter not; my kids know the story.  I stopped sharing it though, not long after Elsner’s.  “Let it go,” Sterling urged.  “You either live in the problem or live in the solution.”  Tired of poison, I too dropped the keys.

 

I think of that lunch to this day…It’s not so much what happena, or why, but what am I going to do about it…or not.  (Years later—at Stacy’s wedding, no less—his kid approached me.  “It’s time,” she urged.  “You and my father should make up.”  I smiled at her—warmly— then walked away).  Some matters should rest in peace.  Even God can’t change the past.

 

     “Do you take me for such a fool

     To think I’d make contact?…”

 

“Am I wrong to feel?” I asked another, of a recent hurt.  Stung by a nouveau friend, I was venting.  “No,” she said, “But you’re wrong to hold on.”

.

My friend was right.

 

Just this week, I told someone…No more.

 

“Are you still mad?” she then asked. 

“Not at all,” said I, truthfully.

 

What I was was wiser.  Life is too short and time is too precious not to let go, to move on.

 

My father’d call it “Addition by subtraction” and like Sterling, he’d be right.  Addition clearly by subtraction.

 

Sometimes, though, to this day, I hate to do the math.

                                         (quotes from the Dylan song)

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