Day 10 (Part Three) : Someone you need to let go of, or wish you didn’t know.
Lea and Liz, the first entry, started to describe the nature of relationships I had with my three high school friends. It is the preface for this. In summation, we were a group of best friends, entangled in each others’ lives. Mistakes, grudges, and other forces created huge divides between us, leaving lingering hatreds spanning years.
Liz and the In Between, focused on my relationship with Liz. It detailed all of the significant events within our friendship, and how it had turned ugly at times. These were the years in between the first entry and this one.
Kat and I eventually buried the hatchet about five years later. We were both adults who had done a great deal of growing since. We did attempt reconciliation, but mutually decided that we were too different to have a friendship. We grew out of each other. That’s life.
It took Lea and I much longer.
I recall a Fourth of July party I was invited to many years after the incident. A mutual friend of many years invited me, and his sister, best friend to Lea, naturally invited her.
Before I knew it, only a large patio table separated us. We inspected each other, sizing one another up. She still had the same snow white skin, but now she donned raven hair in place of her usual highlight job. Also, she had become much larger than me, at least fifty pounds or more. It was a little more intimidating, but I didn’t care. I’d tussled with men twice my size.
I don’t know what she saw, but she looked fairly intimidated. I was that same, fiery haired, piercing eyes girl she had known then. I hadn’t aged yet, though many of the girls at that table already had. The only differences were these. I wasn’t staring her down behind a pair of Buddy Holly glasses. I was 1/3 less than girl I was. And, we were no longer surrounded by brick and mortar that was the all-seeing, all-knowing, completely crooked system that was our public school.
Yes, we were in the real world. Where there were real consequences to actions. If one of us did one thing out of turn, we’d face something that didn’t include losing two perfectly good school days to absolute intense boredom of a desk with blinders, essentially.
So, we were deadlocked, powerless to make each others’ lives hell. We were adults, not children thrust together in the same place at the same time. We had the freedom of escape, to be free from the tangled web of the high school social society. As much trash as we could talk, it didn’t matter. Too much space and too few connections let those words fall on indifferent, rather deaf ears.
So, it dissipated throughout years of silence. I was already married with a child. We were truly adults, lives so far separated from those emotions and the petty grudges generated from them. What did it matter anymore? Through the power of Facebook, we put it to rest through humor over the incident.
Liz and I had settled old scores. That was, until I started getting serious with C.S. I remember driving around our neighborhood, the one we grew up in, yelling at each other. I wasn’t making time for her at her demand.
“I’m engaged to a man who is really good for me, who really loves me. Can’t you even be happy for me?”
She retorted coldly, “You’ve been engaged so many times, I can’t even take you seriously anymore.”
There was no birthday reconciliation that year. Months droned on. It seemed to be over, and I was distraught, but infuriated. How dare she judge my relationship?!
I invited her to the wedding as an obligatory gesture. I knew she’d never attend. She should have been a bridesmaid, and yet, she would have rather carry on a grudge over my priorities changing.
Mid-summer, mid-pregnancy, I received a card in a letter in the mail. It contained a wedding gift and a phone number. I hesitated, but mustered up the courage to accept the olive branch. I announced my pregnancy. A boy. He even had a name.
She came to visit, and it was the first time I saw her in about a year. She seemed overjoyed, but deeply troubled. Liz, Liz, always something brewing under the surface.
She came the day after I had my son. Later in the week, she brought us dinner, on the house. And that was the last time I saw her face to face. It was almost three and a half years ago.
In that time, her relationship with Fox deteriorated. There was always some contingency on him leaving his wife. When you graduate college. When you get a good job. When…
They were fiercely fighting, and rarely seeing each other anymore. They had opposing schedules, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Fox to steal time away from his wife. One day, he left his email open on his laptop, sitting on her kitchen table. She flipped through it, and discovered a few very old, very intimate exchanges between Fox an I on the MUD.
We talked. “I know it was years ago, but why would he even save this?” she ranted.
Time passed, things changed. That was pretty much the end of their relationship. Well, that, and when she got a confirmation that he and his wife just got a new lease on their house. It wasn’t my fault. She jumped into bed with their mutual married boss and ditched Fox.
I’ve actually searched and searched for the goodbye letter I wrote her in one of my journals. I’m thinking our biggest falling out was in 2010. Liz was always one of those people who insisted that she came first. She randomly called and announced that she was back in town. She wanted for me and her to go out. I explained to her that a person couldn’t just drop by on me. I have obligations to my family, plans that I’ve made, and things that just need done. She was furious, insisting that I never made time for her. All of these years, she made time for me, and the least I could do was see her during the few days in the year that she was in town.
Finally, I fought back.
“In all of this time, I listened to you prattle for hours about a miserable relationship with a married man, the same one that I urged you not to turn your life upside down for. You defiled his marriage, and he still didn’t leave his wife for you. Then, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, you jumped into bed with his married boss, your boss too.
Meanwhile, I am being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my marriage – to a man who fathered my son, is falling apart, and my son is showing signs of developmental delay. The moment I tried to open up my mouth to share my troubles, was always the moment you had to go. I’m tired of being on standby and being expected to be here at your beckon. I’m tired of you leading me around by the nose. So, if you’re going to get pissed off and walk out of my life, it better be for good this time. Because I’m not taking you back.”
We didn’t speak for about a year or so. That was, until a random birthday card for my son appeared in the mail, containing a gift card. I let it sit in my nightstand for a month, pondering what I should do with it. And finally, I broke down and emailed her.
Back to the status that rubbed me the wrong way. Lea is pregnant, after several years of marriage. And Liz, who I haven’t heard a word from in at least six months, made a comment. “I’ll definitely be there! I’m so excited to see you!” I know she’ll be in town; she lives far away. And I also know that she won’t make any attempt to stop by, or even contact me.
I invited her, holiday after holiday, to stop by the house. She always said she’d try, but there was so much going on. I never did see her, not once.
I stumbled upon what may be one of the most heartbreaking revelations I’ve ever had. Liz and I were never friends. We were frienemies. Not from my end, but from hers.
I was a pace car. I was not a concept to admire, but envy. When I actually married the man she truly desired, and had the family she secretly longed for, I had unknowingly won. She couldn’t come around, because she couldn’t bear the sight of it. I had become her superior in every way, and that is a fact she can never reconcile, nor bring to the surface. It’s too juvenile. But wasn’t all of it?
Clearly, she’s not an active part of my life. Her absence has not made a bit of difference. In a way, I wish I could have ignored that birthday card. She would simply no longer exist, and I could retain all of our funny, powerful, intimate, and warm moments. Instead, I am in some friend limbo.
So, instead, I think I’m going to start hiding both Lea and Liz’s feeds. I don’t need it. Sometimes a friendship is beyond salvageable. The remnants are too few. I don’t want to remain friends for nostalgia’s sake. I am not a keepsake. I am a human. If we really remained friends, wouldn’t she at least message me from time to time.
I place this in the sea and wave goodbye. For the last time.