On Saturday, at work, I ran into a girl who used to be one of my best friends. It was more awkward than expected, with her completely unable to make eye contact with me, even after I extended an olive branch, said hello and asked how she was.
Most of our Richmond friendships were formed when we lived in the Old Apartment, and this one is no different. There was a balcony where all the smokers converged and we’d often spend nights out there drinking, smoking, sharing stories and engaging in general shenaniganry. There were five of us, two girls, three guys, and we formed a tight pack. We spent days at the river, illegally drinking beers and letting our dogs splash in the water. We visited the Outer Banks together a few times, carpooling in two or three cars and spending a weekend in debauchery, throwing beers at one another, getting burrs stuck in our feet and soaking up whatever sun we could get from the October sky.
Looking back on it, it almost seems surreal. Rare have been the times I’ve had a group of friends like that and the memories from that year or so, when we were at our closest and most ridiculous, are some of my favorites.
After some wild changes, this girl friend of mine starting dating one of the guys in the group. I was for it, initially, but then things just went all crazy, they broke up in a horrible traumatic fashion and the next day she unfriended us all on facebook and that, minus a few random encounters at work events, is the last we saw of her.
I’ve written about it before, about how angry I was and how frustrated. It’s been years since then, and now I’m just confused and maybe even still a little hurt.
I sent her a message once, after it all went down. It was a really big olive branch, especially considering I’m not the one who did anything wrong. I asked how she was and said we should get together for drinks sometime, she said sure, that she’d let me know and there was a spark of hope. All I really wanted was her side of the story, to give her a chance to explain it her way. She never wrote back.
I’ve spotted her at other events, but I’ve always given a wide berth, doing my best to avoid her and trying my hardest to smash down the feelings of awkwardness and annoyance and frustration. This weekend was different. There was no escaping, no option to give her a wide berth.
We were in the same group for our annual Army check-up. She surprised me at first. I walked into the waiting room, sat in the second row, pulled out some papers to start reviewing for yet another research paper that’s due. I was completely oblivious to everything around me and then I looked up, noticed her profile in the row in front of me and immediately felt a rush of dread. It was just one more thing, one more painful reminder that the people you love are sometimes not the people you think they are, that no matter how much you give to some people, all they’ll do is take and squash and mush and then, as they’re walking about the door, throw fireballs at your chest, just for good measure.
No, I’m not bitter at all.
During the first part of the physical, the dental part, she refused to make eye contact. I kept trying, determined to offer a smile, to make the best of an uncomfortable situation, but she carefully kept her eyes cast down, doing some serious research on the carpet pattern.
At the second part, the medical part, I spoke to her when she entered the waiting area. I asked her how she was, she said fine, but still didn’t look at me, and then picked a spot against the wall behind me to wait. She still kept the eyes locked on the linoleum. And from there, what could I do? That’s it. Point taken.
But I guess the point isn’t taken, because here I am, Monday morning, still frustrated. I still don’t get it. I still don’t understand how you walk away from the only friend group you’ve got in the entire state, how you unceremoniously end a great friendship with a facebook unfriending all because you broke up with another one of my friends.
I don’t know where to go from here. I’ve contemplated shooting her a message, but how? And what could I possibly say at this point?
PS – Thank you all for the kind words and support on my last post. The light is starting to get back in and I feel surprisingly okay after a long weekend of work and friend related stress and anguish. I tend to ignore emotions, to stuff them into a duffel of shit I don’t want to deal with and then there’s the inevitable explosion of suckiness and tearfulness.