Friday, June 08, 2007

The Night of the Comet

One night, when there was a comet in the sky over the San Luis, Jackie and I sat beneath a blanket on the porch of the Oak House at Valley View Hot Springs, which is a naturalist resort in Colorado.

It is sometimes easier to talk frankly and intimately with someone who is naked, if you yourself are naked too, than it is to talk frankly and intimately when either one of you is wearing clothing. Jackie and I were naked together under the blanket and I think that might have had something to do with why Jackie chose that night to tell me the story of her relationships.

She took two hours in the telling. Despite how earnest she was, my mind drifted off the meaning of her words, and I spent most of those two hours listening to her emotions and to the night, rather than to her words. Finally though, she summed up: "What do boys want? I don't care what it is, I just want to know what to give boys that they want. Tell me what they want so I can have a relationship that lasts."

She spoke with earnest intensity: Those weren't rhetorical questions to her. Yet, I hadn't been listening to more than a quarter of what she'd said that night. I asked for time to think through my answer. The two of us then watched the comet for a while.

Finally, I spoke to her about being true to herself. "Don't try to change yourself to suit the boys, Jackie. You'll only find yourself changing to suit the ones who don't really like you in the first place. Then when someone comes along who likes you for who you are, you will have changed so much to suit the ones who don't quite like you for who you are, that you won't know what to do. Instead, be yourself. The boys who like you for who you are will like that about you -- that you are yourself. And the rest be damned."

Jackie and I sat for sometime after that in silence. Then we decided to go for a soak and that ended the topic. Yet, I wondered that night what I should have told Jackie to help her. I considered the words I'd given her inadequate and even worried a bit about having let her down.

Then, about a year afterwards, Jackie spoke to me about that evening. Reminded me of it-- be yourself. "It didn't make sense at first", she said, "But I kept thinking about your words, and eventually it came to me what you were trying to tell me. Since then, I've kept what you said in mind, and it's helped a lot."

Sometimes we get lucky with our advice. We feel so inadequate in giving it, but then we get lucky -- someone comes along who works at understanding it.

No comments: