When I was 8, maybe 9, my grandfather gave me a gift: a transparent cube a little larger than a cinder block with a $100 bill inside.
I was always good at math and always wanted to be Indiana Jones, so my mind thrilled at the thought of upping my profit margin by $100 while digging into a clear cube all the way down to the money.
I told my friends. News quickly spread up and down Liberty Street—Matt Miranda had $100! In a cube! You know how many Garbage Pail Kids that could buy? How much candy from Cards Gifts & Lotto? Maybe we had enough to get the cashier to sell us one of the girlie magazines they kept behind the counter. We could order an entire pie from Frank’s Pizza. Buy Big League Chew in every color of the rainbow. We could get ice cream from Friendly’s—even better, we could afford to sit there in the restaurant and eat it, because for once, we could afford the tip afterward. Heady times. Our lives would never be the same.
My grandfather warned me it was just an optical trick. There wasn’t actually a $100 bill. Just the appearance of one. My grandfather went home. My friends arrived shortly thereafter. I had never been lied to by my grandfather, whereas my friends were all between 6 and 11 years old. Still. Someone had a hammer. I went to work.
I chipped and hammered and chipped and hammered. It was hard work. Took over an hour (if that doesn’t sound like a long time, I suggest you go find an 8 year old and try to get them to do anything uninterrupted for an hour). The deeper I dug, the more feral the excitement around me became. The air grew electric. Everyone had ideas. Everyone had hopes. Everyone had a front row seat when I hammered into where the $100 appeared to be and the bill distorted in a way that proved it wasn’t really there. It was just an illusion. I’d ruined something, something well-intended, for a mirage. My friends left. I sat on my back stoop, alone, ashamed of my foolishness, of having ruined something with meaning–a gift from my grandfather–because I’d been fixated on something that wasn’t even real.
I am beyond sick and tired of “friends” I never hear from telling me what I need to do to “get over” my ex. News flash: I’m over my ex. Have been since she told me my services were no longer needed. I still have questions and confusions and anger about shit. And these questions and confusions and anger are shit I have to figure out on my own. And that’s what I’m doing. It’s a process. When I express pain or difficulty, that isn’t me saying “I can’t figure out how to heal.” That IS me healing.
To be clear: I am NOT talking about friends who haven’t broached the subject or don’t want to discuss it. News flash #2: I don’t want to talk about this to everyone I know. And some of these people are the best friends of all. It’s nice and it’s necessary to have emotional outlets who don’t bring up your pain, who just want to talk about sports or writing or small things like what the hell are we all doing with our lives, particularly with the albatross of one or more graduate degrees hanging around our necks. I cherish the company of these folk.
What I’m talking about are people you haven’t heard from in months, if not years, suddenly parachuting down from their pedestal because they’re just so sophisticated and worldly that they know what’s best for you.
You gotta see shit for what it is. Not what you wish it was. If you’re hunting for treasure and you think you see it somewhere, and people you know you should trust are telling you no, that’s not what you’re looking for, then you should stop digging, at least long enough to think about what they’re saying. Be grateful. Take the illusion for what it is, not what you wish it was. You don’t wanna end up alone on your stoop, feeling the fool. And you don’t wanna be subjected to people who don’t know you telling you shit that doesn’t apply.
I’m grateful for the relationship I had.
I’m grateful it’s over.
That doesn’t mean I wanted it to end the way it did.
That doesn’t mean I’m 100% OK with it.
That doesn’t mean I’m 100% struggling.
I’m just grateful.
Except for the stupid shit.