Four is harder to write than one, two, and three because I realize, now that I’m up to number four, that there are more than four ex-friends. There are two more than four, which, last I checked, makes six. I’m sure if I think harder, there are more. This post was intended to be about my number four, but first I’ll say something horrible.
The blind leading the blind. It’s the best way I know how to describe her. Number Six, the last of my ex-friends chronologically, is the least important “friend” in this “more than four” scenario. I feel kind of terrible admitting this, just kind of, using words like “least important.” I don’t want to be mean. I want to be honest, and I’m finding I cannot do one without the other, which is my fault. If I had more love and light in my life, if I were a different person, a “sweet” person, I couldn’t say these things. But I cannot half help myself. I will go on and on here, without editing this too long post, because maybe I’ll find something more in it one day. I believe, in the bulk of our lives, when we find someone or something we cannot stand, when we’re rubbed the wrong way, it’s usually to do with something we don’t like in ourselves. And I’m trying so hard to see it, to admit something to myself, but this is just a case of “I don’t like you anymore, if I ever did.” I guess it goes to show how I made polite room in my life for people who didn’t belong. And that’s what’s wrong with me. I’ll tell you what’s also wrong: I just can’t help myself, even now, when we no longer speak.
She is an accident you cannot turn away from (I think the term “trainwreck” is stupid). I liked to watch, and continue to do so via her blog. Horrible, indecent of me, I know. I just can’t help myself. Some of us with sitemeters check our stats and know when an ex is checking in us, certain they must miss us or be curious. Sometimes though, in my case, it’s the story of the girl who couldn’t look away. I know plenty of people who feel this way about me, too. I say go for it. Read me. Hate me. Who the hell cares? I’m actually comfortable enough in my own skin, with who I am, that I don’t care what you think. I’d never get offended or feel “unsafe” if people who were no longer in my life read my blog. It’s why it’s public in the first place.
I met her at a writing class in New York. We didn’t become friends until well after the class had ended and we bumped into each other in a cafe. During class, I remember always being annoyed when we had to read her material, the same words, circling. She became overly offended when she received mild criticisms of her work. I remember one specific time her snapping at another woman, barking really, saying she didn’t like being spoken to in a certain tone. No one was yelling at her, but she took the critique personally, as an attack. I imagine she went home and cried. She was too damn sensitive. And I guess that’s the thing, that in the end, broke me of her. She was too damn sensitive to the world, whipping up dramas when they didn’t exist. She stirred things into messes when they were perfectly orderly. I remember thinking at the time, “what a fucking head case,” glad I wasn’t the one to set her off.
But then, after meeting her at the cafe, I realized she just plain amused me. Not in that “I’m laughing with you” way but in the “I’m laughing near you and at you, really I am. How can you not tell the difference?” way. We went to Barnes and Noble, and I listened to her insist to me that she was going to find a lover. She’d shop for new bras and attract one. If the love of her life came along, great, but really she was looking for a lover, no strings, “you know, the way the Europeans do it.” Everything to her is classier everywhere but here. Everything is always better than where she is. She’s unhappy in her own shoes, despite how many she buys. She favors formality and prefers to be called by her titled Ms. with her surname than the comfort found in our first, given, names. She finds friends in hotel staff, in anyone who’ll pay attention to her. Please, talk to me; I’m bored. People who are bored, I believe, are just flat out boring themselves.
She never found a lover, though she entertained the thought, when she insisted a young married man was flirting with her in the SAKS elevator. She wanted to pursue things. I wanted to throw up. “What are you doing with your life?” I know, I know, but I so want a fling. Grow the fuck up. And yes, I’m judging you.
She invented a life to live, in words, not actions, and eventually all that came out was talk. And I’ll admit it; I humored her. She was my entertainment. When I saw it was her on the caller-ID, I rolled my eyes, turned to Phil and said her name in a groan, but I picked up anyway. I returned her calls. I’m as much to blame because I invited her in. She always had a sob-story, always felt life was hard on her, a world collapsing, was always verbally confessing she hadn’t found her place in the world, yet felt extraordinarily comfortable with herself. “I embrace alone,” was her bullshit mantra. She fucking hated alone, worse than rude New Yorkers, the subway, or God forbid, men from Queens. She said “alone” as if it was the high road, but it wasn’t one she walked by choice. She lived in measurements of default. A victim who proclaimed and protested, “I’m no victim.”
Yet, I was always inclusive with her, inviting her out with my friends, to my house when I threw parties, making plans with her often… because I felt sorry for her. She didn’t really retain friends, or make them, for very long, and she complained about it. I tried to help her out, knowing just how hard it can be making new friends in a city, or anywhere, really.
The woman swam in deep, showered in it, stirred it into her coffee with her powdered sweetener. She shopped for “deep” in the shoe salon at SAKS. She wanted to be deep, in every single conversation, because she wanted friends. I saw this clearly, her need to connect to people, thinking the best way to do so was to divulge the deep in her life, right from the start. (And people think I’m TMI girl. Ha). The more we confide in people, the more they want to confide in us, but this was her schtick. She ate grief for breakfast and wanted you to taste it again over a shared lunch at Artisinal. It wasn’t honest or heartfelt; it was rote. Regurgitated words, over and over. The same story, the same things. And my heart just didn’t go out to her. When she spoke, I felt as if she’d said these words before, as if she were bored with her life and used her own words to entertain herself. She had to be terribly bored; it’s why she called so often with nothing to say. And she could talk about that nothing f o r e v e r. And not in a fun mindless way, where friends go on forever, but in a drone. She spoke of dates who didn’t want to see her again. She complained when one didn’t pay for her coffee and looked annoyed to be there in the first place, complained when one asked to take a piece of her muffin, insisting she was absolutely disgusted at the idea of sharing food. How could I be friends with someone who couldn’t share food? She wouldn’t share lipgloss. Yuck. I hate people who won’t share their fucking lipgloss. Germ freaks are different than the garden variety who clean their lives with q-tips. I understand people like that, and dare I say, love them more for it.
When she wasn’t complaining about how her date (gasp) wanted to shake her hand even though he had a cold, or complaining that someone asked to eat part of her blueberry muffin, she was calling to entertain an idea aloud. “What about if I got a dog? Except, I wouldn’t want it to lick, and I cannot imagine it in my bed. I’d need to wipe off its paws each and every time it came in from off the streets. I could use disinfectant wipes on each of its paws, each time, right? And it couldn’t shed. I don’t want any hair on my clothes.” Unless you have a farm or sheep that need herding, what is the point of having a dog, other than loving it to death, on the lap of your life?
She wanted to make a difference in the world, to help others, but mostly, she was a complete mess. And anyone who’d listen to her, well, it’d be a case of the blind leading the blind. The woman is a mess. Everything was always happening to her. She confessed to me one day that all she wanted in life was to get a two-book deal from a major publisher. Ahem. “That’s all I want,” she said. “And I won’t be happy until it happens.” I pointed out that recognition isn’t always the best reason to do things, reminded her that I hadn’t gone out looking for a publishing deal. “Well that’s all I want. I’ve decided.” You know, telling your story is one admirable thing, but not being happy unless it’s published and recognized is what they make therapists for. “No,” she insisted, “I want this book to be important, to be read.” Really she wanted validation that she was a good writer with things to teach people. How to be a mess, 101. Okay, now that is mean. I take it back.
I ended our friendship over email, I’m pretty sure. Which kind of sucked of me. It was cowardly because it’s easier to be brave and composed between paragraphs. I’d written about her before, and when she phoned me, asking if it was about her, I denied it. I couldn’t bring myself to admit it was her. And that’s what’s wrong with me. How can I be such a coward? Why didn’t I just admit it? Because I didn’t want to hurt her. “I’d hope you could tell me things like that, if it were about me,” she said. But I couldn’t be honest with her, because maybe that meant being honest with myself. It would mean asking myself, why am I giving space in my life to this person I don’t even like?
Worse still, I’d invited her to our wedding. It was one of those, I HAVE to invite her, how could I not? Beforehand I’d sent her the menu, insisting she eat something beforehand, or order the vegetarian option (not that she was even a vegetarian) because I knew what a picky eater she was. “Dietary restrictions” she says, insisting to waiters she’s allergic. “Because if I say I’m allergic, they really won’t put it.” She’s allergic to life, to really living, to garlic and butter (except when she’s in Paris and it’s on bread) and a host of other things, except sweets. My wedding was too loud, too cold, and too fattening for her. She sent her food back. Who the fuck sends food BACK at a wedding??? You suck it up. You either push things around on your plate and eat afterwards, or you eat it with a smile. You don’t go making someone else’s day about YOU. You eat the bread. You don’t hold a secret meeting with a waiter insisting you want things different from everyone else. DRAMA. Always. And every single person within earshot of her complained about her. That was the straw. She claimed she was in pain and had to leave the wedding, and maybe she was, but the fact that I expected her to act this very way, was the icing. That was it. It wasn’t the isolated event; it was the culmination of them. All her small catastrophes and even smaller triumphs, all in her mind and making. She apologized, but it was too late. I owed myself the apology. I should have apologized for making room and finding energy for people like that, not bad people, not mean people, just people who didn’t enrich my life. And it’s my own fault now, finding entertainment in her demise, even when she celebrates, I roll my eyes. Big fucking deal. She celebrated each time she finished a chapter, each time she completed something. Get over yourself. You think I throw a party each time I finish a sentence? Okay, being mean again. Clearly, I feel quite strongly, and a nerve has been hit. Why do I dislike her so? I am nothing like her… what’s wrong with me? Maybe all the things I’ve already said, maybe more, but maybe, just maybe there’s no reason to analyze the crap out of it. Maybe, and this is sometimes hard for me to say, maybe I simply just don’t like her.