I had a chance to catch up with one of my oldest and dearest friends over the holidays…except she was different. The same, but different. Physically she looked the same…although her skin glowed more than usual and I’m sure that her eyes shone brighter as well. She seemed so calm and peaceful, yet engaged and expressive. It was still December and still too early for healthy resolutions or detox diets. So what exactly was it…
Pokerfaced Pal (PP) and I have been friends since I moved to London. We became incredibly close during the September 11th terrorist attacks when we were both working in London and our families were back in NY. (Never Forget) We remained in London and have been through a lot of ups and downs together over the years. We have since left our careers, married and had children.
Except the one thing about Pokerfaced Pal (PP) that I simply grew to accept was that she never really got emotional…even during 9/11 events.
I know PP HAD feelings and I know she FELT something but I just never SAW it and she never talked about her feelings, her emotional self. Everything was always factual and usually had a logical explanation…like talking about the weather.
Conversations with PP were somewhat detached; her voice often steady and unfeeling and her expression somewhat vacant. It wasn’t hurtful or insensitive, it was simply as if she just didn’t have the words to name her feelings or describe her emotions. It was as if she just didn’t know how and that was just the way it was.
But now? Different.
I met PP for a drink before having dinner with some other friends and while I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks, PP walked up to me, put her hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eyes and then started to cry while she uncharacteristically hugged…and hugged me.
I asked if she was okay and she said ‘yes, I’m wonderful’.
Okay then dry those eyes and let’s get a drink!!!
While PP and I were catching up, she explained that a few months ago, PP watched her sister fall apart when she found out her husband was having an affair and wanted to leave her for a ‘more feeling and responsive’ person.
PP’s sister decided to be proactive about her circumstances and signed up for a meditative retreat that offered professional counselling sessions. PP was so worried about her sister that she decided to go along for support.
I’m sure that PP initially envisioned a bit of therapy, a bit of walking in the countryside and a bit of quiet meditative reflection but what she had signed up for turned out to be an incredibly intensive cognitive therapeutic approach.
But to say that PP was a bit more introspective and self aware was putting it mildly. It was as if somebody detoxed her brain. Not only did she seem different, she spoke differently and her entire approach and attitude had changed…like she learned a new language and had been living abroad for years.
How can I explain the profound change?
Let’s pretend that I live in France and let’s really exaggerate that suspension of disbelief by also assuming that I speak fluent French…which of course I don’t and which of course I’ve struggled with as obvious in my last visit to Paris (Sing Us A Song).
But imagine still that every week Pokerfaced Pal came to visit me in Paris and our weekend routine included spending the morning at my local market. Since I am also an esteemed owner of a highly acclaimed patisserie, I need to have fresh fruits for my American pies that sell out within the first couple of hours of my doors opening.
(Hey – I might as well go for it, right?!?)
Anyway, back to MY French fantasy, PP and I inspect the local fruit at the Marche Mouffetard and PP simply nods yes or no to what she thinks is fresh. After a few hours, we then go prepare a delicious mouth watering dessert and PP would undoubtedly praise me, very factually of course, and tell me how much she enjoyed the pie.
So, imagine after 15 years of these weekend visits, on the very next vist, PP is not only fluent in French but she is also a food critic with an extensive, elaborate vocabulary of a seasoned chef. PP now speaks directly to the stallholders and converses with the other shoppers in great descriptive detail about what looks fresh today and what is coming in tomorrow.
Now PP communicates better than I do after all of these years. In fact, I think she has even surpassed my own knowledge and language skills and is herself an expert in French food and language.
So as I sit at the bar and listen to PP not only tell me about her feelings but also SEE her emote and express those feelings…I’m a bit shocked at such a transformation in such a short period of time. It’s a little unnerving, but weird and wonderful.
As PP tells me how proud she is of her sister and how much they have gone through and learned about each other, their families and others, I start to embrace her change and am so proud of her for embarking upon such a brave and courageous journey of self discovery and awareness.
I always thought of myself as having a fairly high level of emotional intelligence but maybe there is always more… for any of us… to explore.
As we toast to 2015, I see PP smile brightly, honestly and beautifully.
After all these years, I think I’m going to enjoy getting to know her.
2015 is off to quite a start. I better brush up on my French…who knows what’s possible…
Happy and healthy New Year.
Oodles of love.
Retox Cocktail makes 3 drinks –
1 for you, 1 for your physical self and 1 for your newfound emotional self
Mix the first five ingredients with ice in the shaker.
Mix the cayenne and maple sugar in a bowl, and pour the contents onto a dessert plate.
Wet the rim of a rocks glass; roll the rim in the cayenne mixture to coat.
Fill the glass halfway with ice.
Strain 1/3 of the bourbon mixture into the glass, and top it off with soda water. Stir. Repeat for two more drinks.