inspiration for the post title goes out to the two cats in the alley behind my deck, fighting loudly. it seems to be a theme...
i intended to write this in paper journal like i did the last fight (human, not cat) that i alluded to, but i didn't have the hand strength. a pen can't keep up with two hands on a keyboard. i had to get it out of my system, and while i don’t want to share it with the world, i feel okay with this, because as i said in that post, sometimes the hardest things to communicate are exactly what you should. i'll try not to be mean, because these are things you simply cannot take back. i'm thinking ahead, to a time when we can be some variation of friends. this is about the sixth incarnation of this post.
we've both recently posted love notes to each other on our blogs, which makes this even more ironic and shocking. i meant every word of mine. and i'm not going to say things here that will detract in any way from what she has done for me. i need to stick to the facts. no fancy charts and graphs, because i'm blogger retarded. it'll look more like a laundry list.
like her, i came to the same conclusion. something feels irretrievably broken to me in our friendship.
when we first became friends, i had no idea that she was seven years younger. from the outside, she had her shit super together, and was leap years ahead of anyone i know: career oriented, goal oriented, busting her ass in a phd program at an ivy league school. and she was at the end of a relationship of her own, as i was deciding to leave ever.
and she's right about something. i do document things well, but more than that, i remember the things that upset me the most, and i do have a little list of things i'm bitter with her about, but never wanted to say, because it would upset her. this, by the way, is exactly how i treated ever. i was afraid to upset him, and didn't communicate with him about things to avoid arguments.
i know that two of the worst days i had after leaving him, losing my shit in crisis mode, were two days that she wasn't available to me. and it wasn't her fault. i didn't blame her at all. one night she was bowling. i was supposed to go, and at the last minute couldn't. the other time she changed plans with me, i don't remember why. it's irrelevant.
what is important is that i was a fucking wreck, and i was totally alone. and it was the first clue that i had that i needed to pull myself together, because it's no one's job to do that; people have their own shit to worry about. it's not that i was hurt that she didn't drop everything to help me. because i didn't let on to her how bad things were in my head, if i remember correctly. but i guess i started to put distance between us, because she was my local best friend, but she's got a very busy life. and those two specific incidents made me realize that i shouldn't count on her to save me. that started the slight distancing. to that point, we'd been together pretty much every day, attached at the hip, and she was my lifeline.
to illustrate where i’m going with this:
on thanksgiving, she did the sweetest thing ever, and invited me to her family dinner. i would have been in a horrible place if she hadn't. it was my first big holiday alone, with no plans.
she was having a shit day. she was bent out of shape because her sister was being demanding, wanted to call the shots, and was lecturing her about smoking. she felt her sister was being rude and demeaning, but she ultimately gave me the silent treatment, because i didn't take her side.
i didn't take a side for two reasons. one, i was trying to mediate, not add fuel to a fire. i wanted a peaceful thanksgiving, and was trying to take the drama out of it. she hadn't had family around like that in a long time, and i wanted it to be happy. but also, i didn't take her side because i'd been sitting with everyone all morning and never heard a single thing that sounded like a catty/snippy/demeanin/disrespectful sentence come out of her sister's mouth.
i was punished for telling her that i hadn't heard anything that sounded out of line, and for recommending that we should just walk and smoke outside until she felt calmer and cooler and ready to go in and be civil. i said that i thought she was being overly sensitive. what happened, when i said that to her, in a very calm and caring way, is that she said to me, 'just fucking FORGET IT', and walked ahead of me.
i followed her in silence for a bit, fuming. and i know that i told her not to take it out on me, that i was just trying to help. it takes a lot to get me to yell at someone, even when they yell at me. and i know that i kept my voice even and calm because i didn't want her to freak out further, and especially not release that fire onto me.
i told her that, in a couple days, her sisters would all be gone. and then she could do whatever she wanted. but just try, TRY, to get along for two more days, especially thanksgiving day. and i offered to take her sister off her hands the next day, to give her a break so she could try to push the reset button on her bad attitude. and i did. we had a lot of fun, and left her alone. i don't know how much it did help, but i know it did at least a little. and i did that for her, despite being wickedly pissed that she was so nasty to me when i was trying to cool her down and help. and it took a couple days before i could talk to her about it, but i did.
and she honestly had no idea that i had even been upset, especially not enough to come back to it to talk about it at length after the situation had dissipated.
she pitches tantrums and makes scenes, and gets it out of her system, and then forgets that anything even happened at all. but i'm willing to guess that the people she directs things toward don't forget so quickly. i'm burnt on the complaining. the incessant problems. not everyone can have it all, all the time.
and the trip back from new jersey, where i fought the urge to drive myself back without her. the thing about that disaster was this...
i save her when she has panic attacks. i go overboard to accommodate her if she is in the middle of one, and go to great lengths to help her avoid having one. because i know how crippling it is, from having them myself. and because i know how, when someone is going through that, they can't see an end, and all they want is for the panic to end.
i will never know what the fuck happened that night. how i had the correct address in my phone (zip code and all). because it was in my history six different times, the same address. but i got to the first place that it told me to go, she was nowhere near me. and i didn't start to get nervous until i was driving from there to the next 'destination'. because at that point, i was where i was supposed to be, by the time i was supposed to be there.
i'd cut my trip to new york short, to get her when she was ready to be picked up. when i wasn't there waiting for her when she made her grand exit from the reception, she was PISSED. from her post, i think she believes that i did it on purpose. despite the fact that i told her i was doing my best, both during and after.
i had three separate panic attacks that night. each where i pulled off the road to re-route from my current location, shaking and tripping out. and i called her each time, because i didn't want to talk while i was lost and driving. i'd given up music and cigarettes, in an effort to concentrate, for over an hour.
twice when i called her, i was crying. begging her to please stop yelling at me, and to just tell me where to go. to ask someone if they knew where i was, by my landmarks, and how to get there from where i was. she wouldn't do it. she just yelled that she was plugging it into her phone and could see where to go from where i was, and how could i not fucking figure it out?
i offered to drive her to that goddamned wedding because she was fragile and upset and having a horrible life, just being dumped while having pneumonia, and the last place she wanted to be was at a wedding. and knowing that was her situation, if she had driven herself and gone alone like she was supposed to, one of two things would have happened: panic attacks, or not ending up at the wedding at all. THAT is why i took her. so she wouldn't have to worry or stress. i thought i had the money to swing it, and didn't ask for gas money or anything, because i just wanted to drive and think and process the things in my own head.
i offered to wait for her in the parking lot at the church, and drive her to the reception from there, but she refused. if she hadn’t, i'd have known precisely where to pick her up. instead of letting me do that for her, she said, ‘just go to new york. don't wait for me. i'll get a ride somehow.'
i sat in that parking lot on my phone, and probably left about ten minutes before she would have needed a ride, while i sorted out how to get to new york city from there. the entire thing could have been avoided. but it wasn't. all she had to tell me, at that point, is which exit she was off of.
after an hour and a half of me driving around, north and south of her, 30 miles at a time, she wouldn't tell me, wouldn't ask anyone. i finally said, angrily, 'you mean to tell me that you are at a wedding reception, leaving hours before anyone else, and there is literally not a single solitary person around that you can ask which exit you are off of? there is no one is working in the hotel?'
and she said, 'hang on.' with a grunt. and asked. and finally said, 'exit 30b.'
it took her five seconds to ask someone where she was. i had buzzed past that exit at least three times in the two hours i was trying to find her. all because she was commanding me to use my iphone, instead of just saying, 'hey, tea. take a deep breath. it's going to be okay. thank you for trying to find me. we're going to get home. just calm down. and get to this highway. and take exit 30b. and i'll be here.'
THAT was what i needed, and it should not have been that hard to do. she was so drunk and upset and self absorbed that all she could think about was how intolerable it was that she was cold (because she forgot her coat in my car), that she was outside for two hours (because she made a big scene and left after scarfing her dinner in under five minutes). because she couldn't take one more minute of being at a wedding, despite me telling her i'd text her when i was outside the hotel, and to stay at the reception until i got there. after telling her that i didn't mind waiting while she hung out. and that she was stuck in new jersey for two hours after she was ready to leave the wedding (um yeah, me, too), and that she couldn't take one more minute of wedding and waiting for me to come and get her.
once she said the exit, i was there in 20 minutes. it was right off ramp from the highway. i could not believe it. i pulled up into the hotel, and she slammed my car door. and gave me the silent treatment. she reeked of liquor and wouldn't tell me which direction to drive to get home. i was seeing red. i cannot remember the last time i was that angry.
after maybe 30 minutes, she told me about her epic bad night. and, yeah, i get it. if i was feeling that way, the last place i'd be is at a wedding. i would not have gone. and the last thing i'd be doing is treating my 'best friend' like a piece of shit, when only a couple hours before, leaving new york city, i'd said, 'i'll be there soon, and i'll put you back together. just let me get there, and you can cry in the car.'
there are not many qualities more unflattering than being an ingrate. i consistently go out of my way to tell and show people they are appreciated. i overtip. i thank the guy who drives my trolley, my bus, even my subway train. and when someone doesn't do the same for me when i'm behind the counter, i'll still help them and give excellent service. i'll still let people in front of me in traffic, even if they don't wave thanks. i'll still hold the door for someone, or let them cross in front of my car when i'm in a hurry.
but the extent of the opposite of that, that she went that night, was just inexcusable.
i was telling someone about what happened in jersey. and they asked why i was her friend at all - really couldn't understand how i could call her my local best friend. and i explained that when she's not being dramatic or mean, she's awesome. when you need something, she gives more than you need. up to, and including her last dime. and that i feel like i am on this planet to help her become a better person. a more well-rounded, confident person. that i'll repeatedly forgive her, and help her, because maybe it is what i can do to repay her for keeping me safe and sane when i left ever.
i think this would all be a lot less horrible to me if i hadn't just done something so extravagant a couple days before, completely honoring her, and going so far out of my way to make her feel super special. i didn't have to go so crazy with the food and the cake, the presents and the party favors. i mean, on my birthday, she made me an awesome cake from scratch from a family recipe, and sang to me in her apartment (i cheated and went bakery), and went with me to favorite bar. where she left, while i was finishing my last drink, to let a friend into her apartment. asking me to pay the tab, saying that she'd get me back later. we already had a running tab at the time with each other, and it got mixed in with that. but i paid for my own birthday drinks that night. and i wasn't exactly prepared to.
while i stumbled home (five doors down, luckily) alone and wickedly drunk, she got home to realize she'd forgotten to borrow my shop vac to inflate the air mattress she'd borrowed for her house guest that she'd left me to tend to.
while i puked my brains out, she banged on my door to get in. loudly enough at one am for landlord to see what the hell was going on. when i could finally stand, i passed it off to her, threw up some more, and passed out. alone.
that was my birthday.
completely unrelated, but more venting...
there are two types of people, as far as i can tell. the kind who listen and the kind who wait to speak. because i'm her friend, i don't mind listening to the same things she wants to talk about every day. and when i don't, i listen anyway. i don't judge her based on her romantic decisions. i let her practice science talks to me. and i don't roll my eyes at her, as much as i sometimes want to.
she says she doesn't give a fuck about dating and my house, and that that is all i talk about, so we now have nothing to talk about, and that's just not fair. i admit that i'm super into talking about boys right now, and if she asks what i'm doing and i have plans, that's what i say i'm doing.
after a year of being totally alone, i am having fantastic luck out of the gates with dating. and i enjoy it. i don't care if it is not forever. i'm having FUN. i don't intend to slow down or stop anytime soon. and as long as i'm meeting new people, i'm going to talk about it to anyone who asks or acts like they care, to anyone who is a friend.
i'm excited that i’m finally doing something about boys, and that it’s paying off. if the same thing happened to her, i'd be thrilled for her. but i talk about boys as little as possible around her, recently. and when she has asked me about it, twice in front of other people, i answered, and both times got cut off and corrected.
as far as calling my dating 'drama', i clarify: if i am crying about it, that's drama. if someone is being mean and yelling, that is drama. but giggling about a cute text is not drama. and certainly not the last of a string of things that can be considered drama.
instead of complaining about what we discuss, figure out something else to say. don't ask a question if you don't care about the answer. i'm happy to talk about anything. life, love, choices, decisions, ANYTHING. well, except for politics and world events.
but a conversation is a two way street. and if you want to know something, sometimes you have to ask questions or change the subject. it's not like i only know how to talk about boys. look back in this blog, if you doubt that. yeah. the last two weeks have been saturated with boys and house. among posts about relationships with my parents and my sister, and my plans for the rest of my entire life. i have a lot on my mind. all the time. and i enjoy talking about boys, if given the chance. i try to keep it in check. but why shouldn't i? before it was the divorce. and before that it was ever. it's NICE to write about something that is happy lighthearted fun. it fun to talk about things boys say that are nice and flattering.
and forgive me for being excited about my house. actually, don't. i love that i'm house proud. it's so much better than hating where i live, and wanting out of this city, and wanting out in general. i have worked so fucking hard on my house, and fought hard for control of my house, even when i was convinced that i'd hate living in it. i never thought i'd be happy in the house, or look forward to working on it again. but i AM. and it's consuming. anyone who is a homeowner can tell you that, especially a new homeowner, we think about it all the time. it becomes a priority, and a source of excitement. and great joy.
back to the birthday thing. and what i did that was met with what she did to me...
at the sleepover, she had SWAGGER. she was fancied up. it was the first time that i knew, without a doubt, that she believed that she was absolutely beautiful. that she was the happiest i have seen her, since last summer at the star party. and i was over the moon. i mean, FINALLY. god, finally, she found happiness. and it wasn't because of any boy. i made the biggest deal out of it. pam, kim, and i all did. it's about classical conditioning. reward the behavior you want to have repeated. she had such an amazing time. but it was so fleeting. and that crushed me completely by saturday night.
what happened then was that things didn't go the way she wanted with a boy. she called him out and let him fuck her evening up. i couldn't understand why on earth she let him have so much power to ruin her night, when he just wants to be her friend, and stated that when he met her a year ago and she expressed interest. and right off the bat on saturday, when i got to the party a little late, admittedly, one of the first things she said was that she was annoyed. and i kind of mentally checked out right about then.
because twenty people just dropped what they were doing to go to the place she told them to, at the time she said to be there, for her birthday. and she let someone who wasn't really much of a friend affect the way that she treated the people who have known her way longer than i have.
not to mention, i brought a poor unsuspecting boy to her party because she has a crush on him (mike). i brought him into it, putting him into an awkward situation so he'd be there for her. and she said hi, and that was about it. i offered to leave with him via a text from outside the bar while i smoked an hour after we arrived, because i didn't want anyone to know that he was uncomfortable. and she spent the night convinced that he just wanted to fuck her new best friend.
i kept to myself that night, for the most part. i made small talk with the people around me. except for the part of the evening where i was with a certain boy who started conversing with me about his new business.
when she commented to me that she didn't think people were having fun, i stopped her. and i literally went around the table pointing at every single person there, because i was frustrated with her attitude. and i said, 'he's having fun, she's having fun', all the way around the table. when i got to the friend i was talking with, and said, 'he's having fun,' she rolled her eyes and said, 'of course he is. he's been talking to YOU all night.'
i'd been talking to him for maybe fifteen minutes out of the three hours i'd been there.
it's these little digs that can’t tolerate. i put up with those more than i'd like to admit. i am not a villain. i'm not a bad friend, either. i have done nothing flirtatious or inappropriate with this dude, who made it clear to her the first time he met me that he liked me (not my fault - i certainly wasn't trying to get him to), and who i made clear to her the first time she told me he was interested, that not only am i not interested in him, but that i would never go for him, even if i was. i live by hoes before bros. i'd never fuck someone a friend had, past or present. she knows this.
and the worst part is, she deduces it to the fact that i'm skinny. which is offensive enough on its own. it can't be that he likes me because i'm cool or funny or nice or awesome or sweet. it's because i'm skinnier. i won't even go to gatherings where this guy is, in a group setting, if i can avoid it. i'm not touching him with a ten foot pole. i'm afraid to even be his friend, because of what she might say about me or insinuate.
i spent my life until now defining myself by the relationships i was in. and sometimes i think i'm here to be her friend, to help her through the part that comes next. which is realizing that until she figures out who she is, at her core, and is legitimately happy on her own, she will never be happy with anyone else. it's where i lived and thrived for my life, until 33. it's not easy. you need a really good friend to help you through the dark bits.
the fun i'm having now? i'm having fun now, because i finally don't give a FUCK. because i finally know that i am awesome. i have confidence i have never had before. i feel cute. i feel like i can get something, if i want it and go for it. i know that i'm awesome whether i'm alone or standing next to someone or fucking someone or married to someone or divorcing someone. and no guy is going to come along and complete me, because i am completely self sufficient.
and yeah, it's nice to be in bed next to someone. i'm way happier laid than not. but i can wait a week between and not sweat it. i can wait a week in between without a phone call or an email. because having the person around is just a bonus.
yesterday, a morning walk home from joey's, when she texted me to stoop with her...
i talked for maybe ten minutes about my night with joey, after listening to her tell me what happened after i left the end of her party. to simplify it down to ten minutes was next to impossible for me. a major struggle, because it was so fresh, and i was only about 20 minutes out of his apartment. i was trying to stick to the facts and not get all gushy.
then we walked together to favorite bar. she stayed for brunch, but i said i had to leave, because i was wearing yesterday's clothes and was too tired. when sam came outside and asked us if we were coming in, i said no. i didn't say anything about sex. i didn't say walk of shame. i said i'm dirty and tired, and not able to handle easter sunday brunch. usual sunday brunch is more than i can deal with, because they all turn into mean crabby people in the thick of the insanity. i've waitressed so much, i understand being slammed and understaffed. and i feel bad for them. and it's not the time i want to go try to hang out with them. they can't hang out anyway, because they're too swamped. so i said i was leaving, and i told her to have fun, and that i was sorry i was too ill to stay. and she took a step to go inside, and i took a turning step to walk away from her, and in the middle of six tables full of people, to sam and the other bartender on the sidewalk, she announced loudly, 'it's my birthday and SHE gets laid!'
i was completely embarrassed, and walked toward the corner i needed to cross to head home. and her response was to say more, also loudly, in the middle of all those tables, 'no one heard,' motioning toward the tables, 'see? no one cares.' and i just walked away. and got to the corner.
and she said, 'don't make me chase you, i'll do it!' it was mortifying. i walked back as she walked toward me and i said, 'do not make a scene. i'm not angry. but i am leaving now. i want to go home. i want a shower. i need to sleep.'
and i fought the urge to say i was angry, but instead said i wasn't angry, because i didn't have the energy for it. and i didn't want to ruin the last of her birthday weekend. i told her to have a good brunch. and made my way home, telling myself i'd talk to her about it some other time when i wasn't as angry and she wasn't out celebrating. she was supposed to come over for the last of the birthday cake that night, but flaked. which was fine, because i was happy alone, and don't know that i was ready to talk about it yet.
camel, meet straw:
she had come to the store earlier in the day on monday. and she came back later in the afternoon, with her new best friend in tow. and talked dramatically about how her night was going to be deathly awful, and how tomorrow was going to suck completely. and i said that was too bad, because i was going to ask to hang out after work. i wanted to talk to her about all of this away from everyone else, and when i asked why tomorrow was going to be so bad for her, instead of telling me, she turned to her coworker and went through the technical details of her experiments.
by doing this, she both let her friend know that i don't know what she's talking about, and simultaneously let me know that she has someone better than me, who understands her and can relate. that she doesn't need me to understand big complicated science stuff.
and i worked while she did it. noting it mentally, but not reacting. putting it on my list for later conversation, because i thought it was rude and showy. i asked what she was doing, not her friend. so why didn't she just answer my question? i was listening for her answer, and she excluded me intentionally.
and right then, my phone happened to ding, because matthew happened to text me. to tell me not to worry, that he was looking for my understudy for the wedding, and it made me laugh. because to me, it said that i was the star of the play, and that he didn't want me to stress about him finding a back up date. when i said the line about the understudy, she rolled her eyes so hard i thought she was seizing, and turned to new friend to say loudly, 'i'm SO not impressed with this guy'.
it struck me so hard, that i couldn't not say something. it was just the icing on the birthday cake.
what i wanted to say was, 'then it's a good thing you're not dating him. because i don't need you to be impressed by anything in my life.' but what i said instead, calmly with clenched teeth that i hid pretty well considering the inflammation, was 'yeah. you know what? i can't talk to you about boys anymore. i'm sorry. i forgot - i was trying not to. your reactions and your eye rolls are just too much for me to deal with. when you say stuff like that, i take it personally...'
and my voice caught when i said it, because i was heartbroken and choked up. i'd had all i could take.
and her reaction? she stormed out, right then and there. with her friend lagging behind, probably in a daze from what the fuck had just gone down, when absolutely NOTHING had happened. i didn't even watch her leave. i worked through it, making drinks and helping customers. because i didn't want to cry in the middle of my shift.
i was super disappointed when i invited her to meet matthew last sunday, and she didn't try to talk to him or get to know him. i was, quite simply, offended. on at least one occasion with all the boys she has dated while i've known her (six of them, off the top of my head), i have gone out, and spent over an hour talking to each of them. because if they were cool enough for her, they were cool enough for me to give them my undivided attention.
and i have ONE GUY (since chalk in august, who she hated, and made it known to both of us) that apparently didn’t deserve ten of her minutes, when i peed and had a cigarette, and left them alone together.
all of this combined is why i think that this will never be what it was.
in jersey, i thought that i'd never be able to be her friend again. and somehow, i let that slide.
and now that she is lashing out at me, i won't fight back. and i'm putting a lid on the grease fire, instead of throwing water on it, causing an even crazier explosion.
i'm okay with who i am, and if i can't be myself with her, then what the fuck is the point? 'best friends' shouldn't have to pretend and hide things from each other. i'm done with that part of my life. i've been someone i'm not for the past nine or so years. it took me a year to find myself again. and those days are over.
i'm sick of being some toned down version of myself, so that i don't accidentally upset her. sick of banging my head against a wall, having carbon copy conversations with her every week about her life and what she has to do to make it different, and better. and what she won't do. ad nauseum.
we’ve defied the odds making it this long without strangling each other. i know there have been times when i wanted to shake her, and i'd be stupid if i didn't think she wanted to do the same to me at least eighty five times more than that, because she's so quickly upset by things that are mostly misconstrued and misunderstood, and even when there's nothing to be upset about at all.
i spent a few minutes today thinking about all the things i have that are hers, all the things i tangibly owe her. hearing a cash register 'ca-ching' in my head when i think about what else i might need to come up with to settle up. i'm making a mental list of things that need to go into a box back to her.
i realized i need to back up everything on the laptop i write this blog from. i either need to get a price and buy it, if she even wants to sell it to me, or give it back. besides the computer, i have a camping chair cover, a stack of bins she let me use to move into the house, clothes she asked me to hang on to for her, a bookshelf she asked me to take to the house for storage, and a couple sedaris books i didn't have a chance to read yet.
it was a year and a half long relationship, and it won’t be easy to figure out what we have that belonged to each other, because it was a slow accumulation of borrowing things. i know it's partly because i'm so fucking stubborn. but it's also because she tends to talk about how much she gets taken advantage of, and i refuse to be the subject when she's doing that.
i don't think i can go back to what our relationship was. i'm not saying we can’t have a relationship, just not the same one.
we both deserve the good parts, but i am done with the bad parts. maybe after a recovery period, that hopefully includes some acknowledgment of flaws, and an apology for them.
i’m happy to do the same, to put in some effort, but i can’t just roll over and shake this off. it needs to be addressed and overcome in order to recover. and only then can we try to salvage what is left from before, and turn a new leaf and start again...