I’ve taken to saying, “I’m not complaining, I’m just explaining.” And a peal of laughter follows. I sit on the wide expanse of concrete outside Chai Shai with Jessica. I stretch my arms and feel my unused muscles wince in protest. The cars cruise past on 59th; Jessica tells me about how she sees my recent malcontent with some of my friendships. Her empathetic connection with the events which trouble me lends a solid, genuine tone to her observations.
I draw my mango shake through the straw. The cold fills my throat, soothing its rawness. My eyes close briefly, something akin to pleasure shuddering through me at the delicious feel of the frozen drink. A waft of fragrant steam rises from the pakora. This night, this moment — at the restaurant with a woman two-thirds my age, who nonetheless could be my sister — this moment calms me.
I don’t mean to moan, I tell her; and she just smiles. She knows me, does this young woman, this ginger-headed friend of mine, mother of Addao, writer, photographer, dancer, teacher. She tells me that I should just speak my need. Those who push back when I refuse to let them walk on me will either deal with it or not; but the problem will be theirs.
Maybe I am complaining, I think to myself. Or, worse, gossiping; though I’m talking about events in my life, encounters with so-called friends which have left me feeling helpless and a bit resentful. Taken. Used.
I crunch another pakora with the back side of my fork and dip it into the green chutney. And the breeze rises, ruffling my hair, soothing the worn warm skin of my forehead. Yes, I’m complaining, I decide. The conversation flows away from my gripes and grumbles. By and by, we finish our drinks and our snack, and make our way back to the Holmes house. Night settles. I’m another day older, another day down the road in month twenty-one of my year without complaining.
I think I should rename this blog. I think I should call it My Year Letting Myself Learn to Like Myself; and Letting Go of Resentment. Do you think that domain is taken?