Friday, December 02, 2005

A Tale of Two Parties

I receive a lot of email to I See Dead People. There are often many questions and, overall, it's nice, warm and supportive. One in particular was really touching because I suddenly realized it was from a complete stranger. I couldn't help but think back to a conversation that I'd had at around the time that the media started buzzing around me.

It was with someone whom I only knew as a celebrity.

"Look around you tonight. Many of your friends won't be around in the next couple of years. Before you've even gotten to the height of your career, so many people will have just dropped out of your life."

I tried to be casual. It was, after all, a party and I didn't want a scene or anything like that.

"Oh? And why is that?"

"Some will be envious of you. Some have been around because they felt more successful than you. Others will resent how quickly you became successful. And others won't believe in what you do and won't have an open mind."

"I think my friends'll support me." I could feel my cheeks burning with resentment. How dare this person presume to know anything about me or about my friends? Besides, life at that time was all about a great husband, a beautiful home and I went from media event to media event while subsisting on hors d'oeuvres and wine/champagne.

Boy, I was wrong. So, so wrong. Last weekend, I was at a party (a very good one, indeed) and met up with someone who resents me. (I have it on very good authority that she does.)

I dreaded the encounter. I wasn't about to apologize for having made something of myself and I wasn't about to apologize for having a career that most people didn't understand and, worse, wouldn't even try to understand. I often write about what I do for a living but I don't speak of it often unless it's brought up in a certain context or by someone else. So, obviously, I wasn't going to force the issue by saying, "Hey, did you see me on television?"

When I did see her, my own resentment dissipated. I just felt saddened. Here was a person for whom I could be happy if she were happy but who, in turn, could not be happy for me: she knew about the interviews, many radio appearances, the documentary, etc. but she could not mention it.

And, so, the celebrity had been right after all. This person had spoken from experience. I'm not as well-known as she--or, maybe I am but how could I possibly know?--and I didn't ask to become well known nor did I ever expect to be. It has all been a nice--and oftentimes embarrassing--surprise to me.

I could have dwelt on the fact that not all of my friends have come through for me. When I look around now, I see the numbers have dwindled.

When I looked around at this most recent party, I chose only to see the people who supported me. People who said, "Hey, congrats on the documentary" or "I wanted to watch you on television but was at work" or, even better, "How are you?"

These were my friends. As for the resentful former friend, I bid her goodbye. I mean, really, I did. When, as she was leaving, she kissed my cheek and said, "Goodbye", I returned the nicety though my word was more meaningful.

The rest of the night, I was grateful to be among people with whom there was mutual respect. Not everyone believed in what I did but they treated me with respect just as those who take the time to make comments, to ask questions and to send email.

(cross-posted to Miscellanea & Ephemera)

No comments: