Mama Kat of Mama’s Losin’ It conducts a weekly writers’ workshop, with a choice of prompts, such as this week’s. When I decided to participate, I wanted to make it a true exercise (plus, I couldn’t choose which prompt I liked), so I put the numbers one through five into a random number generator and prayed the number five wouldn’t come up, because I knew what I would write about if I got that prompt, and I didn’t think the subject had matured enough for me to write about it. Of course the “random” number that came up was 5!
Here’s the prompt:
After a couple of years in the City, I decided to marry Florida Guy and return to Florida. I told Mr. Lens this news on the way home from a fun night at his apartment in New Jersey with a couple who were friends of ours. I had secretly hoped he would drop the friends off first so we could talk. He did. I announced my engagement. In the silent seconds that elapsed, a solid and definite partition locked into place between any hopes either of us had harbored for a future being more than friends, and the reality that the dormant energy would be on indefinite hibernation. His words to me: “So, do you want me to take the wedding pictures?”
Choosing to pursue the practical path, and knowing intuitively that the airtight partition had sealed, I said, “yes.”
Weeks elapsed when Mr. Lens and I did not talk, despite me calling his number numerous times. I don’t know what subversion of the heart it took for us to come back together, on the day of my wedding, as friends. The pictures turned out great.
Once Florida Guy and I set up housekeeping, and started a family, I lost touch with NY Lens. Years went by, years in which, if the airtight seal of the partition ever threatened to be compromised, I told myself, “well, he wasn’t interested in having more children (he has a daughter) and probably isn’t likely to marry.”
One Christmas Eve, I opened the mailbox and beheld a card from NY Lens and Mrs. Lens. He had gotten married. The first of the air started creeping past the hermetically sealed partition. I called on New Year’s Eve. The dormant energy was still there. We saw each other the following July. Over the ensuing years we have visited each other, and somehow navigated the air seeping through the partition to get to a place where we have each other’s backs, each wanting the other’s marriage to be fulfilling and comforting.
Fifteen years later, NY Lens, his wife, my husband and our two children met on that same spot on the Brooklyn Promenade and took a “now” picture as a companion to the “then” picture.
Oprah: So, let me get this straight – if the audience were to transport itself back to New York City in 1988, they may see the two of you dining at Isabella’s, reveling in each other’s company?
Me: Right. We talked about things like what his daughter was reading!
Oprah: If you had given in to any romantic feelings you had then, where would things be now?
Me: That would have been fun, BUT in the long run this has turned into one of the most sustaining friendships of my life. In the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” Harry told Sally that men may pretend to be your friend, but they really only want one thing. Sally argued that that wasn’t true.
Relationship Expert: Studies show that the power of male/female friendship is restorative. In a survey, 56% of women and 44% of men attested that they have remained friends with someone they could have loved romantically, and that they would give up the romantic part for the friendship part if they had to choose.
Oprah: Okay, since today is “Takeaway Tuesday,” what is your takeaway?
Me: Like my book, “I’ll Take the Pictures,” says through the stories submitted by couples who have faced this situation, it’s important to nurture and treasure those friendships that didn’t have an opportunity to turn romantic.
Oprah: Let’s get a picture of this; say hello to NY Lens! And as a treat for everyone in the audience, you’ll find an autographed copy of “I’ll Take the Pictures” under your seat! Share it with someone who needs to have their faith in male/female friendship restored!
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.