As soon as I found out we were coming to Tahoe, I knew exactly who I would call–Russ (well, in truth, this is also the only person I know in Tahoe, except for his family, though clearly that’s just an extension of Russ).
Russ: I’ve known him since I was 18, dated him for a few years, broke up with him, dated him again, ended it, and still we have maintained a really good friendship, respect for one another, and really deep love.
In fact, I’d venture to say that no one has ever loved me as much as Russ has (I might even actually include my own mother in this case). He loved, and hopefully still loves, me for who I am, never trying to change me, always just accepting. He has a heart of gold, and anyone who knows him will agree (I bet I could call him at 3 in the morning and ask him to do me a favor and he would. He would do it for any of his friends). He works hard and knows how to have fun. He’s a single dad with full custody of his kids and he’s raised them extraordinarily (I’m serious. I’m really impressed).
I’ve wished a million times that I could marry Russ, but though we love each other and respect each other and get along fine, we are not a right “fit.” I really don’t know how else to explain it other than we just don’t “fit” right. And part of me thinks that I’m being very, very lame and that if Russ is such a good man–and he is–and he does love me, then why not? And not only that but I recently read a review of this book and I am pretty much mortified and scared at the same time.**
But I know we would not be truly happy nor would we be committing a very authentic act. So, friends we remain. Hopefully for a long time.
Anyway, today Russ and his kids took me and my kids to a science fair (Russ is a scientist and I wish I could explain exactly what he does, but I don’t really understand it myself. Something with saving Lake Tahoe’s water. That’s a big overgeneralization, but in my head that’s what he does). We had a blast: the kids running around, eating ice-cream, learning about conservation, and Russ and I catching up on life.
(All of using walking to the science fair)
(Maddie and Russ’s daughter Isabelle watching the animal show)
Then Russ came back to our house and my sister and aunt were so happy to see him, which makes Russ an even better addition to our Tahoe trip as my family has always loved him as well, and as he even said today, “It’s so nice to just jump back into your family. It seems like no time has passed.”
But time has passed, and both my sister and I commented on Russ’s gray hairs. Which just totally tripped me out because in my eyes we’re still 18 and 20, not 34 and 36.
While the kids raced around the yard catching lizards and playing with crawfish my sister caught earlier in the day, Russ and I talked about old Tahoe trips we used to take and how much fun we had (and how much trouble Russ always got into when he was younger. Don’t be mistaken. He’s no angel). It was a funny trip down memory lane.
So tonight I’m super thankful for the friendship Russ and I share. We’ve had our bumps and our downfalls, for sure, but we keep trekking on, and I think it’s the mutual respect we have for each other that allows us this strong friendship. I really wish all my relationships–with friends, lovers (ahem…none now), co-workers, even the damn government–could be as harmonious as Russ and I. It’s not like we haven’t put in the work, but when you do and you keep on working on it, then something really great comes from it. Something like a unique and awesome friendship.
**Here’s the review and synopsis in case you decide not to link:” *Starred Review* Gottlieb, 37, made the decision to become a single parent after years of searching for Mr. Right. Four years later, when she still hadn’t found him, she decided to take a good look at her dating habits—and the dating habits of women around her—to see if the problem is not a dearth of good men but rather women’s expectations of them. Gottlieb finds that women want it all—and often aren’t willing to compromise on their list of traits their ideal mate must have. In their twenties, many women leave good relationships based on an elusive feeling that they could find something more with someone else, and they regret it down the road when their choices dwindle. It’s not that women aren’t willing to settle; it’s that many refuse to recognize that their vision of the perfect man doesn’t match reality. With the help of dating coach Evan Marc Katz, Gottlieb reconsidered her own standards in the hope of finding happiness. Gottlieb’s honest, astute analysis will resonate with many women and make them uneasy as they recognize themselves in her experiences and those of the women she interviews. Gottlieb makes a strong case in this groundbreaking work. –Kristine Huntley”