People who don’t have children sometimes refer to their pets as their kids. Which is fine, I don’t have a problem with that. Whatever. It’s true that my beasts are important to me, but they aren’t my children, they are cats. There’s a difference. Human babies don’t always land on their feet. Don’t ask me how I know that.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about family, about the important people in our lives and how those relationships fit together – how we feed and breathe and grow together. People aren’t easy for me. I used to think something in my brain was broken because I don’t always have the same reactions or responses that are deemed “appropriate.” Sometimes I just don’t get it. What I’ve learned is that I do get it and I always have – it’s just that I am so protective of my inner core that it takes me a lot longer to be open to the possibilities of any relationship whether it’s business, romantic, platonic or even a casual, peripheral connection. It takes me a long time, but once I’m there, I’m always there. It never goes away and I am loyal to the end, no matter what.
Leslie met someone a couple months ago – someone she is interested in. Through a series of strange events, we found out the world is indeed very, very small. This chick is friends with a friend that I work with, who is friends with one of Leslie’s oldest friends. And the chain keeps on linking.
Last night I got to meet Leslie’s friend and I liked her. She’s cute and she’s funny. What I really liked, though, is the way Leslie lights up when she’s around her. I’ve known Leslie my entire life and I’ve never seen her like that before. Ever. It made me incredibly happy. It also made me feel fiercely protective.
And so, while I was at the bar buying stock in UV, her friend walked up to me and started talking. We had the kind of innocuous conversation you have with people you don’t know yet and then the conversation turned to Leslie. Her friend was pretty drunk and I was waiting to pay for my third, so my natural reserve had some holes in it. The friend (I need a name for her) said she likes Leslie. And I smiled and said, “Leslie is very, very cool. She is my oldest and dearest friend. If you hurt her, I will gut you like a fish.”
Where the fuck did that come from?
Family, that’s where it came from.
Then I laughed and she laughed and backed away. Then I flirted inappropriately with someone else’s girlfriend. I told Leslie she was an asshole if she didn’t kiss that girl. Then I had another drink. And then I said to Leslie, “You’re already an asshole, so that would make you a dumb asshole.” Which made Leslie’s friend say, “What are you talking about?” and made Leslie blush a little but I walked away so she didn’t have to answer because I’m an asshole, too, but not a supreme asshole.
I also confessed my secret crush to my secret crush, but she didn’t believe me, which is fine because she’s madly in love and crazy happy.
It was a fun party. I drove home smiling and singing along to the radio, even though my voice now sounds like Brenda Vaccaro after a week-long bender. On the way home, I realized something.
I have a family, a tribe, a posse. I may be by myself for a while, maybe even forever, but I’m not alone. Last night I let myself reach out and they reached back.
And if you hurt any one of them, I will gut you like a fish.