ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 163: Practice with People
I stop by the jewelry shop where, last summer, I consigned a turquoise bracelet made in Mexico. Dan, the shop’s owner, paid me sixty dollars for its sterling content, then put it in his window.
I haven’t seen it in the window lately. I ask him about it.
“The sun loosened the glue that held the turquoise pieces in place, and some of them popped up. I took it to Donna to re-glue, but I’ve forgotten about it. I’ll have to give her a call.”
Dan comes from behind his desk to stand before a display case. He’s tall, with carefully trimmed gray hair. He’s careful with his clothes, too — always in a nicely pressed Polo top and khaki trousers.
“My son finally finished repairing the house he bought,” I say.
“You helped him?”
“It took me awhile to get over there. At first, I wasn’t thinking in too healthy a way.”
“After my divorce three years ago, I went into a slump. Just went to work and went back home. Stuck. I was on Prozac for awhile, but it numbed me out. I didn’t feel like me. It takes time. After a while things start clicking.”
“What helped you?”
“Getting this shop. Talking to people. I was in sales before, but I always went in for the Quick Hit. In and out. Now, I really don’t care whether someone does or doesn’t buy anything. I like to talk to people. I’m finding out there’re lots of good people out there.”
“I was part of a co-dependent relationship and didn’t know it,” I say.
He nods. “So was I. My wife was a narcissist. She didn’t care about me. I jumped in, did everything. I decorated. I’ a little OCD. My friend said my wife and I were in a cocoon. If I went out with the guys, she was jealous. If she went out, I was jealous. We did everything together. I’m not a therapist, but getting out, getting involved, getting with people, might help you.”
“That’s what I need, practice with people. Relationships are foreign territory for me. I’m on shaky ground even with my son. I want so much to be honest and natural with him. That’s my goal. And to be honest and natural with myself.”
“I’ve dated, but when I start feeling uncomfortable, I stop it. I don’t really want a relationship. I like getting to know myself.”
I nod. I second that.