The times when I miss my parents the most is when some juicy tidbit or gossip crosses my path and I have nobody with whom to share it. It happened the other day when I was enlightened to a social misdemeanor, as I’ll call it. I sat in my kitchen pondering the scope and breadth of the information of which I was now in possession. Wow. What to do with it! There really wasn’t anybody I could tell, as to do so would be to throw too many under the bus, but sitting with knowledge that I didn’t really want was burning a hole in my psyche. It made me agitated – a combination of pissed off and amused at the same time. I wasn’t sure if I should punch a hole in the wall or do a happy dance.
In days gone by, whenever something salacious or gossipy happened I would tell my parents. There was something safe about sharing information with them. Always a rapt audience, my mother longed for inclusion in my life, even if she didn’t really understand who I was as a person. She would listen attentively, and seemed to grasp the significance of whatever I shared with her, even if I had to elaborate on some of the details. And I always knew that the buck stopped with her. She would never repeat my stories or jeopardize the sanctity of our privacy.
The same was true at times with my ex-husband. We have a long history, having known each other since we were children, and over the course of many decades we were party and privy to many “location jokes” and “you had to be there to understand” situations. Every once in a while I will hear or see something that makes me instinctively want to reach for the phone and say “…hey…guess what I just heard…” and then there is that flash of remembrance that we are no longer on the same page as it were, and that sharing a moment may constitute crossing a line of intimacy that will be awkward and uncomfortable, and ultimately it’s better just to shrug off the moment and edit it from the memory bank. Just as I miss my mother, despite our somewhat dysfunctional relationship, I miss having a spouse who knew me when, with whom I can take a private trip down memory lane to laugh and reminisce about the good, the bad and the absurd.
Sharing gossip, even with close friends, can be tricky business. Relationships (and yes, marriages) can be tenuous, and even if they aren’t, that one extra glass of wine or moment of “…OMG, you wouldn’t believe…” can kill a lifetime of trust. I feel fortunate to know that there are several close friends to whom I can say anything, but even I stop sometimes when I instinctively know that a person’s reputation is at stake. Nobody wants to cross that invisible line in the sand when it comes right down to it.
I took the information, and my feelings about it, and ranted in my journal for several pages. It always feels good to write to my audience of one, and in so doing I was able to illuminate some complex (or is it conflicting?) emotions about the situation. But the whole time my fingers were itching to pick up the phone and dial a number that has been long since disconnected.
The experience has made me realize how much I miss my mother, how much I long for a confidante who has my back.
And how much I wish I could un-know certain pieces of information….