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6.2.02 Return of Maria

Last week I was on the verge of writing that my friend Maria was dead -- or maybe "gone away." Or maybe I would do a retrospective on all those "babes in boyland" fishing stories in my journal and confess that Maria had never existed. Like all those movies I've been watching lately, the audience would gasp to learn that reality is illusion, that life is a snake swallowing its own tale (I'll leave the misspelling), that Maria was the ghost of a love child I should have had at the age of 19. Fishing is, after all, about the unconscious, isn't it? About deep longings and secret searches? A meditation on the fickleness of nature trumping our hard-won skills? A mystery...

The mystery to me was how the easiest, most fun-filled friendship I can remember had disappeared. Oh, sure, we were still cordial, still working together every day, but in a moment of frustration with each other -- work-related bullshit -- we had torn up the fun part. That was back in February or March and I've had a heartache ever since.

In Annie Hall, Woody Allen says relationships are like sharks -- unless they keep moving forward they die. Was my friendship with Maria an ill-fated shark? A sunny interlude in sober middle age? A year of silly fishing and margarita parties? Or would we figure out how to move forward?

This weekend was supposed to be our 3rd annual fishing trip to Canada. I think we both recognized by Friday that the strain between us was intolerable. We met after work over a giant plate of nachos. Three hours and 10 cosmopolitans later, we had hashed everything out. The shark has raised itself from the ocean floor and looks ready to party.

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