Sometimes, when life feels impossible, I start dreaming again about living in a cave. Some place in high country with a crawling-height foyer (about 12 to 15 feet deep) opening into a dry anterior chamber with a ceiling high enough to allow me to stand up. Further back, down cool, dark, stony corridors, water rooms--algae-covered walls and pools for drinking.
A major attraction of cave-dwelling has always been the (perhaps mistaken) belief that all my guests would be groovy people. Inconceivable that anyone would drive three days and hike 5 hours (uphill) to make small talk or false talk.
This weekend, still living in an apartment at sea level, I am in hell. Not the enveloped-in-flames-with -tongues-of-fire-kissing-my-ear-lobes variety but, at moments, pretty damn uncomfortable. I have a house guest.
Several minutes into a stultifying account of her life before her gall bladder was removed and her life since her gall bladder was removed and comparison of her experience to her mother's experiences pre- and post-gall bladder surgery, I asked "Why are you telling me this story?"
"Well, I don't know. It was just something in my head and I'm just an open-book kind of person. I just say what ever's going through my mind." This is a verbatim quote.
We attended the same high school. We last saw each other about 20 years ago. We last had a "conversation that matters"...well, I don't remember when. But I'm sure we had one somewhere along the line. She re-entered my life 2 years ago when another high school ..friend... searched for and found me and shared my contact info with "the gang." Since then, my guest has telephoned a couple of times but mostly just sends me awful supposed-to-be-funny email forwards every other week. All of the jokes, every single one of them, is either about growing old or sex--the tee-hee-hee, this-is-nasty, adolescent type sex humor.
She's gained about 200 pounds since high school. I asked this afternoon how she got from my size to plus-size, what was she thinking. She said in the first year of her marriage they lived near her in-laws and ate with them often; the in-laws were heavy people who prepared vast quantities of food and "it seemed rude" not to eat as much as they ate.
"But as your body expanded...when you saw yourself in the mirror, what were you saying to yourself?"
"I didn't say anything to myself. I didn't notice," she said. "I'm not like you--so serious and philosophical all the time. I don't need the mind games and deep-thinking. I just live my life and don't think about it." A nearly-verbatim quote.
I don't wish this woman any harm or misfortune. I just want to make it through this weekend and then never spend time with her again. She says I am one of her dearest friends. She says she makes new friends everywhere she goes and every friend she makes is a friend for life.
I say our definitions of "friend" are dissimilar. And I know if I lived in a cave, I wouldn't be in this predicament.
Some cave pictures I found online: