fierce attachments

a mother-daughter blog about the fierce attachments in our lives… title inspired by Vivian Gornick's wonderful memoir

Category: friendship

i will never understand men: hard-wired attraction and the quest for companionship

by nikki meredith

group of men2My last memory of Jacob was on a bright, February day. The air had a crisp, astringent quality. We had just finished our monthly hike in the woods behind my house and we were having lunch at a local café. My dog, Alice, still panting from the hike, was tethered to his chair. He leaned down to stroke her ears and she swooned. He loved her and loving a dog was a new experience for him. I was urging him to get a dog of his own. He was lonely. At times, howlingly lonely.

“No,” he said, “I’ll wait until I meet someone.”

“So you want a dog to alleviate your loneliness but you want to wait until you meet someone at which point you won’t need a dog to alleviate your loneliness.”

He laughed.

We argued a lot. We argued about many things but one particular argument we’d been having off and on for more than 25 years. He would only date women who were younger, quite a bit younger. I didn’t like it.

If I had known he would be dead in another two weeks, would I have fought with him at all that day? Or would I have fought more fiercely? Would I have been more insistent that he do what he had to do to open his mind and heart to other possibilities? Read the rest of this entry »


friends of friends / after a good friend dies

by nikki meredith

porch at sea ranchWhat falls away is always. And is near.

-Theodore Roethke

About ten years ago, four of us – two couples — were sitting on the deck of a house at Sea Ranch, shielding our eyes from the dazzling sun. We were passing the binoculars around, trying to spot dolphins leaping through the surf.  Though the sun was bright, it was a chilly day with enough wind to create a chop on the ocean.   The house belonged to the couple we were with. The husband of the couple would be dead in a month.

We knew he had malignant melanoma and that it was spreading.  We were savoring every minute of a bittersweet time, so heartbreakingly precious because it would be so heartbreakingly short. Read the rest of this entry »

sex, surrogacy and supper: the movie the sessions, part 1

by nikki meredith

coming homeLast week I was having dinner with six of my friends – all of them, to one degree or other, hip or at least hipish. I mentioned that I saw The Sessions, the recently released film starring Helen Hunt and John Hawkes. I was fired-up about the film and I wanted to discuss it. Specifically, I wanted to talk about the following:

—  I know Cheryl Cohen Greene, the sexual surrogate on whom the Helen Hunt character is based in real life and as much as I love Helen Hunt, and as much as I admire her for tackling the role, I found her performance wanting. A characteristic that the real Cheryl Cohen Greene has, a characteristic that anyone who has ever met her will attest to, is her warmth. While Hunt portrays the quality all therapists must possess — unconditional positive regard — her version is crisp, clinical. Read the rest of this entry »

living with chronic pain – someone else’s: part I

by nikki meredith

I woke up this morning smiling.  It was the first morning in three days that I didn’t have either searing pain behind my right eye or nausea. I took the dog for a walk with a sizable bounce in my step. I ate breakfast and after breakfast I took a shower and, as I towel-dried my hair, I thought about how good the day promised to be. It was, after all, a glorious fall day and I was without pain. And then I heard the unmistakable, high-pitched whine of a smoke detector. I was confused. We don’t have a smoke detector.  (Why we don’t have one is a long story but it has to do with high ceilings in the kitchen and low tenacity in life.) I threw on my bathrobe and followed the sound to our guest room.  I opened the door. Opening that door was a terrible mistake. There was, indeed, a smoke detector emitting an ear-splitting shriek. I quickly closed the door. In a matter of seconds, the fierce, penetrating sound brought with it the searing pain behind my eye that had vanished a few hours before.

All that happened in that room is that I heard a sound. Read the rest of this entry »

the end of gift giving (as we once knew it)

by nikki meredith

Juleaften The Royal Library, Denmark

According to the New York Times, the recipients of gifts are no longer content with leaving it up to you to decide, they want what they want and they want you to get it for them. We the givers, writes Penelope Green, are being treated like “catalogs or department stores, brandishing lengthy wish lists, demanding gift cards or boldly asking for cash.” Social scientists who study this phenomenon have various explanations (according to one theory: what matters is having the exact right stuff — the clothes we wear, the object d’art we display, the lamps we light — because of what our stuff says about our style and identity) but Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, calls it is “blatant greed” and, in the article, labels it our number one etiquette problem.

You’d think I’d welcome this specificity. On November 20, 2011 I wrote about how difficult it is for me and my husband to get the gift-giving thing right, even after 36 years of marriage. But the mercenary approach horrifies me. I first noticed it when a relative got married a few years ago and along with the invitation came a request that guests contribute to the car she and her future spouse wanted to buy. I figured this was just my crazy family but then the daughter of a friend got married a year later and this kid wanted us to contribute to the purchase of a condominium. Read the rest of this entry »

imaginary friends and neighbors

by caitlin meredith

A few weeks ago I developed an intense attachment to a couple that lives in the neighborhood. It happened very quickly, the way some of the best friendships do. It was immediately clear how much we had in common – everything from our favorite kind of organic tea to the poetry of a lesser known writer. Having this kind of chemistry can be bittersweet – on the one hand you can’t believe your luck to stumble upon a kindred spirit (two in this case!) but on the other you regret all the time wasted not knowing each other already. The memories that could have been made! They’ve lived four blocks down from me for a while now, and yet we’d never crossed paths before. Sadly, I got to know them on their moving day, which sucks.

Another thing that sucks? They never existed.

Let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »

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