Lately, I’ve been thinking about the people in my life. I mean that I’ve been thinking about my friends and acquaintances and colleagues, the relationships that have the most mobility to them. People move in and out of our lives, for better or for worse, and I think it’s comforting for us to rationalize why someone who was near and dear to us one month could be a stranger the next.
It’s not that I’m afraid of change, but endings make me sad. And I try to tell myself that just because something ends, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth its beginning. I have a real problem dealing with my “all or nothing at all” mentality. It’s incredibly difficult for me to believe that just because a person is no longer my friend doesn’t mean he or she never was.
What is it exactly that makes people incompatible? Nora Ephron, in her book I Feel Bad About My Neck, presents her readers with “The Peninsula Story,” and it goes a little something like this: There is a married couple who live on a deserted peninsula. One day, the man’s mother comes to stay with the couple but the man leaves on a business trip. With her husband gone, the woman is eager to see her lover but cannot have him at her home because of her husband’s mother. So the woman takes a ferry to the mainland, has amazing sex with her lover, and lets time get away from her. She realizes she has to get home, but it’s late, and she misses the last boat. Desperate, she begs with the ferryboat captain to make an exception and take her to the deserted peninsula. He says he will but only if she pays him six times the normal fare. She doesn’t have the money so she starts walking home and along the way, she is raped and killed by a stranger.
So the question is: who is responsible for the woman’s death, and in what order? Is it the woman, the husband, the husband’s mother, the lover, the ferryboat captain, or the rapist?
And the trick is that if you ask your friends, they will likely all answer differently and reveal a lot about themselves. I wonder if it’s worth the risk of asking.
Comment with your answers to “The Peninsula Question” and maybe I’ll share mine.