Monday, January 09, 2006

Home is the Kayak......

I used to play the recorder four times a week with Toni, whom I met a few years ago through a mutual acquaintance. We played in a group that was very amateurish. As time went on, though, we decided to try duets. Our skill grew until we were both pretty good and really enjoyed the music and our friendship. We ate together on the days that we practiced amd got to know each other fairly well. We both got kayaks and went out together several times. We played on-line scrabble. We went shopping together, and last year she was one of the guests at David's and my Christmas meal.

Well, it came to pass that I didn't want to spend so much time with the recorder. I told Toni that I wanted to take a break. Her response was drastic. She literally begged me to continue, saying that her life would be terrible without our playing sessions. I agreed to play once a week, unable to be deaf to her pleas. We did that for a couple of months, and then she emailed me that once a week wasn't working for her. She insisted that we increase the time we spent or we would lose our expertise and actually lose ground rather than improve. Since I was not even enjoying the once a week, I refused.

From that point on, the situation grew very bizarre. Toni accused me of insulting her, calling her names, and making things up about her. She said I was mentally unbalanced, scary, even, in my delusions. She suggested I "think about that" and get myself together. Her amazingly distorted perception and her condescension angered me to the point that I told her I didn't want to see her at all. After I cooled down, I tried to patch things up through emails, and we corresponded a few times. She insisted that we go over our former emails to each other and respond to actual quotes. Reluctantly, I did this with a few of her letters, then suggested that we stop the "I said, you said" routine and just forget what had happened. I didn't hear from her, even though I had sent her several emails. Then she wrote that she was not opening any more of my correspondence, and if I wanted to apologize, I would have to do so in writing, by mail. I responded by saying I had tried, but I was through.

This is, of course, my view of what happened. Toni would have a different story. She had told me many times of other people who had turned against her and were no longer her friends. Her stories of their abuses used to shock me, and I wondered why people were so mean to her. She claimed she had even been fired from her last teaching job because the entire faculty conspired against her. When I heard these stories, I assumed that as a person form New York City, she was probably misinterpreted by people in Washington County. Since I have a bias that makes me feel that people from big cities are paranoid anyway, I thought that most likely she imagined a lot of the mistreatment she experienced. I nodded in sympathy, though, not really believing or disbelieving what she said. To me she was not a sympathetic person, too quick to complain and blame others for whatever happened to her.

So why am I writing all of this? It's been in the back of my mind for weeks. I am very uncomfortable with all of it. To my knowledge, no one has ever been so angry with me or thought so ill of me. This is unsettling, yet I'm afraid I don't like Toni enough to pursue the matter. That, too, bothers me. Yesterday David and I drove to Pembroke to retrieve my kayak, which was stored at her house. We returned the keyboard she had leant me at the same time. I had called to make an appointment to do this, and I was worried about having to see Toni in person. She must have felt the same way. When we arrived she was gone. She had left us a note telling us where the kayak was and what to do with the keyboad.

I don't yet know how I feel now that everything has been tidied up and there is nothing left to tie us together. I do know that I put my kayak in the cellar with some glee, feeling that it finally belonged to me, that I was free to use it whenever and wherever I wanted, that my life with it now was independent of Toni, and that because of that, my enjoyment of it had just begun.