Sleeping Wide Awake


When I get home from work, there’s a small twig – about six inches long and boasting a handful of leaves – shoved into the mesh of the screen door.

In Greek (and some other European cultures), this is a calling card – somebody wants me to know that they’ve visited.

Only one person’s ever done this – IDIOT FRIEND, albeit years ago, before he was IDIOT FRIEND (although, no doubt, he was still an idiot). His work occasionally takes him through the area, and he’s randomly dropped by in the past. One time, he did exactly this – snap a twig to prop in the screen door. Obviously, he’s done it again.

Why, I don’t know.

To salvage the friendship.

To plead temporary insanity.

To try make a connection that he could trade upon.

And he’d think that, because he’s IDIOT FRIEND who believes everything can be forgiven because he’s not smart enough to understand just how egregious he has been. He thinks time is on his side. Why wouldn’t he? We’ve known each other for forty-five years. And something that’s lasted so long should be saved, shouldn’t it? That’s what we do – cling desperately to things that have been mainstays in our life.

So we became friends when we were kids – big deal. Kids don’t need much in common to become friends – they don’t need shared interests, similar outlooks, or even comparable intelligence, the way you might determine friendships (or even relationships) when you get older.

All kids need is geography – to be in the same neighborhood, or in the same classroom. That’s all a childhood friendship needs to begin. And while it might seem special, or magical, often that’s simply because kids look at the world and life and play with that boundless potential where anything could happen.

But as you get older, time – the longevity of the relationship – ameliorates things that should be issues. Because that’s what we’re led to believe – that something that’s been around so long should be sustained, or saved, or that it has great value, like an antique that’s been unearthed in the junk stored in the attic.

Time’s a liar, though.

Time’s the biggest liar of them all.

It lies about the quality of friendships that aren’t working, saying they’re worth keeping; it lies about relationships, promising that even as they’re unraveling that they can be good again; about jobs we don’t like, but which we think we’re still invested in, and which we believe still value us; about health that is deteriorating, but which we outright ignore until it spectacularly collapses.

Time lies all the time.

A mutual friend advised me if I ever bumped into IDIOT FRIEND, I’d have to stay calm.

I don’t know if that’s possible.

Or if I’d want to.