"True friendships are never serene."
-Marquise de Sevigne
“I heard your parents last night.”
I watched her from the corner of our so-called secret garden as she fluttered about, a small watering can in hand. She was busy watering the base of four apple trees which, to our surprise, had come into full bloom so suddenly that afternoon. Delicate pink-white petals swirled about like a million tiny butterflies whenever the wind blew, reminding me of the passing winter, now diluted in the warmth of spring.
She looked back at me expectantly. Her candid statement held no venom; just plain curiosity.
I know. The whole neighbourhood must have heard my family. A student-community whose residents lived in close quarters would have little to hide from one another. If walls weren’t thin enough, tongues certainly went a long way in facilitating the spread of rumors. Not that last night’s events needed any helping. The desperate yelling and slamming of doors made things plenty evident, I was sure.
I wanted to give her a good answer. I wanted to tell her that my family was not broken; that no matter what happened, there is still love there. I wanted desperately for her to believe it.
But I had no idea how to convince a friend of the existence of love. For children like us, love was objective. If it existed, there would be spring and apple blossoms and school holidays. If it didn’t, then there would be yelling and doors slamming and misery. Our juvenile world often ruled in solid colors, and we were built to believe brighter shades were best.
After last night, my world was swathed in dark, angry hues. I remember hiding the car keys so my father wouldn’t leave the apartment. Sadly, my efforts were defeated by innocent and obedient little brothers who presented them promptly at my father’s angry demands. It didn’t take long for them to realize what was happening though. No amount of hugs from my distraught mother could have calmed them as they watched my father walk through the door.
Here I was, barely the next day, enjoying the first spring afternoon of the season. With delicate petals sticking everywhere, I was hardly the picture of pity. The warm sunlight managed to paint me just another happy girl basking in God’s gift. My sorrows were thus camouflaged; my worries deftly cloaked. And I realized, belatedly, that I wanted it to stay just so.
“I think the trees need more water, don’t you?” I asked, picking up my own empty watering can as I go. I hoped she’d heard my silent closure on the subject. I was never one to start a fight, but I wasn’t going to back down if she insisted.
She grinned, and threw a casual arm around my shoulder. “Yup! But I think our watering cans are too small. Maybe we should get a tub.. Think your mum would mind? She’s the coolest!”
A crash course in girlfriend diplomacy: successful.
Lesson 2: Love does not exist exclusive of hate. Love exists because of it.