It took 4 airports, 3 flights and a total of 21 hours to get me back to the east coast of America.
It started at 3 am in England and ended around 8 pm here (which is midnight in the UK). So, basically, it took all of Tuesday.
By Wednesday morning I was logged into work. That’s how it works. No time to dawdle.
Now it’s Saturday and I’m trying to figure out an elegant way to move large databases from one storage location to another.
I’d like to say I’m using magic, but really I’m just using this tool called SQL, and bumbling my way through user interfaces and button clicks.
I don’t mind spending this weekend working. I truly find SQL fascinating.
Also, it’s giving me a legitimate distraction from a few things I’m avoiding in my life.
First avoidance? Doing My Taxes.
Technically, I’m not avoiding taxes, I just haven’t done them yet. It was something I arranged to do when I got back from England. Well, I’m back and now it’s time to fire up Turbo Tax. Monday looks promising.
Second avoidance? Answering Texts.
I am not addressing two lengthy text messages about attending and possibly speaking at my friend Fossil’s “celebration of life” service next month.
The trouble with those texts isn’t what they represent. The problem is my reaction. Which is a) I don’t want to speak and b) I don’t want to go.
And both of those reasons are so wrong when it comes celebrating a person who as been a presence in my life since I was 16 years old.
I want to feel honoured to be asked to say wonderful things about a wonderful person who meant the world to me.
Instead, what I feel is not wanting to share my grief with anyone but my friend. And my friend isn’t going to be there.
My relationship with Fossil is something I spent 30 plus years cherishing, and honouring with respect.
She may have been 40 years my senior, but we had a connection that bonded us into an elite age-be-damned members-only club.
Some reacted with jealousy towards our dynamic duo masks and capes. A few even tried to make it a third. Mostly, though, people thought nothing about our odd pairing.
Our friendship became just a fact of life.
But a fact that has always been a challenge to define. Even for me.
I kind of put it this way: Fossil wasn’t my Mother. She wasn’t my Aunt. She wasn’t my best friend.
We had common interests in the same sport, operas, novels, programmes, humour, travel, and intellectual pursuits.
She was Glinda:
To my Dorothy:
She showed me the awesomeness of me to me, by being someone who saw the better version of me. Which made her a warm cloud and a harsh mirror. But always always a person on my side.
We spoke all the time.
Retelling life stories. Sharing movies and books. Discussing current events. Catching up on the daily ho-hums.
Our phone chats lasted well over an hour every time. And when face to face? Oh, all evening.
Over time, Fossil became the voice inside my head.
Some ask: What would Jesus do? I do that for sure, but also I wonder: What would Fossil say?
Turns out, 3 out of 3 of the worst mistakes I made in my life where committed when I ignored that voice inside my head.
The last time I spoke to Fossil was six weeks before she died. That was in November, after she took a spill which led to an extended hospital stay and her moving permanently to live with her son.
Her daughter arranged the call. When she got on the phone with me Fossil didn’t know who I was. I kept saying: It’s me. It’s Floss. She couldn’t place the name or the voice. She demanded to know what I wanted. Her daughter tried to help, but it was awful.
I ended the call two minutes in. It was literally pointless to continue. It was like trying to be heard on mute.
So I said goodbye to my oldest and dearest friend, who was only too eager to stop talking to this strange person on the phone.
Afterwards, I just stood there, with my mobile still to my ear, feeling like the Earth had just swallowed me whole.
Then it went quiet, and cold.
All of it. All of our stories. All of our time. All of her. All of our Batman and Robin superhuman powers. All of it stripped away. Wiped clean.
In the span of 2 minutes, I went from being Dorothy to being Elliott.
I didn’t know what to do, or feel, or think.
In the final part of ET, ET gets better and Elliott gets better, and together they share their “I’ll be right here” finger-to-the-heart farewell moment.
My moment with my ET was Fossil thinking I was a telemarketer.
Anyway, so that is my long way around justifying my non-answered answer to those text messages.
Right now a response will have to wait until I can find something a lot less selfish besides: Yeah, do you mind if I say no? Because, well, right now I’m kind of like that version of Elliott in the movie when he doesn’t know how to be human in a world without ET in his life.