Time is a tool, in both senses of the word

patience I'm impatient by nature.

My Crohn's recovery, a.k.a. the five months of enforced relaxation it took to stay up eight hours straight without two hours of nap, taught me some patience, but I'm still not even qualified to be a monk, let alone a master.

Every once in awhile, though, I think the universe drops a metaphoric taste of Future You, That Fabulous Pianist at Carnegie Hall!, in between coma-inducing drills of "When the Saints Go Marchin' In", just to keep you going.

About a year ago I sinned, and badly. Inadvertently, but badly. Through my own thoughtlessness and (ahem) haste, I hit "send" on an email with an ill-advised cc recipient; let's call her "Joey". I apologized every way I knew how, and sincerely, I was wrong, wrong, wrong and STUPID, to boot, but for naught. Not only did the email in question hurt Joey's feelings, it set off a spiral of sniping and hiding and stress between Joey and a mutual friend, "Jacquie" (who was incredibly understanding, given the damage).

I'd acted too quickly, and there was nothing I could do to take it back or make it better.

At some point in the ensuing months of guilt-laden living, I was able to stop beating myself up over the deed. Joey and Jacquie had hammered out whatever peace they had between them (I tried to stay out of it) and I was willing to just step aside, since they'd had the primary relationship first. But I hated that Jacquie had to divide herself between me and Joey, and, let's be honest, I hated being hated, however benignly.

And then, a week or so ago, an opportunity presented itself in my head. Call Joey, it said, and see if you can't get her to collaborate on a birthday gift for Jacquie. We're both email types, me and Joey, but I called her, respectfully, and at a time when voice mail would pick up to give her time to process the call, but I reached out in a more intimate way as a way of extending myself I hoped she'd pick up on.

She did, thankfully. We didn't have an overly warm conversation, but it was cordial and a good start. A happy, hopeful start. We spoke of the gift and how to coordinate it, but we talked a bit of ordinary, social things, too. In a roundabout way, I guess we were speaking about hope. And when we hung up, that's just how I felt: not exuberant or triumphant, but hopeful. And grateful.

There's another, much bigger rift in my life I'm dealing with right now as well, but in this case I'm the Joey and they're the communicatrix. It's tricky, because it's a cluster of people, not just one, and they're all at varying levels of growth and understanding. Three of them are surprised that I'm hurt, and can't see their part in it; the other is struggling mightily to, with a kind of patience and grace that is touching.

What's not always easy to see when you're the aggrieved party is that you're half of the equation. This is actually a good thing: it means you have options. There are plenty of AM-talk show hosts who will tell you that right is right and wrong is wrong and the latter can go to hell in a fiery handbasket, but life is rarely that cut and dried, and, frankly, far more delightful if you open yourself to alternate possibilities. My favorite ex-boyfriend and I had to walk through some serious fire before we came out the other side. The ex, let's call him "Trevor", because that's his name and he's been hounding me mercilessly for blog coverage, had committed egregious wrongs, which he ultimately copped to. I had let him, over and over, which I finally took responsibility for. Either one of us would have been perfectly justified to live in Camp Go Fuck Yourself for eternity, but we're both woozy dreamers and somewhere down deep, each of us longed for a loving, mutually-beneficial common ground we couldn't possibly see from the craplands we were mired in. It took three years and a lot of twists and turns to find it. But earlier this week, he and The BF and I sat down to a magnificent, joyous dinner together, because we did The Work.

And because we let time do his.

(And, let's face it, because The BF is the most excellent man on the planet.)

I live more in hope now, albeit not patiently. Right now, I still can't imagine a day when this huge rift in my life will be anything but a painful thing to light upon. But I have many recent blessings to remind me of other, finer possibilities: Trevor, Joey and time.

That tool...

xxx c

Photo: "Waiting for the tide" by {platinum}, via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license