Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sigh. This is all so complicated.

I hated high school. It was the 70s, after all. Welcome Back, Kotter was popular on TV, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" went gold, we lost in Viet Nam, Nixon resigned over Watergate, my parents' marriage was unraveling. They even tried to make me read Moby Dick! How could anyone be happy under such miserable circumstances?

Of course, life is never all bad. And when I look back on those unhappy days, I can recall some bright spots. I had one really good friend. Judy. She was smarter and geekier than I was, therefore I didn't have to hide my smarts or my geekier tendencies. Hanging with her was a relief.

Between the ages of 15 and 30, we were very close. She wasn't easy to be friends with, since she suffered from agoraphobia, but her intelligence and artistic tendencies made her worth any inconvenience.

Until 1987. More than 20 years ago. Judy was dating a photographer, an older guy (considering that she and I are both 51, right about now he must be ... dead). This guy was a recovering alcoholic who had briefly slept with Judy's sister. (HEY! I warned you this was complicated!) She asked me to try to get him a job with my employer, a haircare company that paid for a lot of product photography. While he and I were discussing this on the phone, the conversation got very personal but not (at least not in my eyes) inappropriate. He never followed up, never called any of the numbers I gave him. I thought he wasn't interested in the work and that this episode was over.

Fast forward several weeks -- I had just had some female-type surgery. I'd never had any type of procedure before and was frightened. When I got home, I was supposed to stay in bed and off my feet completely for 24 hours. THIS was when my close friend chose to confront me. When I was home, when I was scared, when I was supposed to stay off my feet. THIS is when she decides to ask me why I hit on her boyfriend.

Huh? What? Not, "Did you come on to my boyfriend?" Not, "John thought you were flirting with him, isn't that crazy?" No, she asked me why I hit on her boyfriend. He told her I did it, so it had to be true

After 15 years of friendship, of Christmases and birthdays, of late night phone calls and confidences, she just automatically accepted his word over mine. And waited until I was uncomfortable and scared to confront me. I was sooooo angry I couldn't stay still. As we argued, I paced, and hemorrhaged, which set back my recovery by a day or two.

I wrote her a letter telling her I never wanted to hear from her again, and why. And I never did.

I saw her on a train once, years later. She gestured to me across the car and I shook my head "no" and that was it. I did not want to speak to her.

This morning, I received the following email from her:

"A lot of time has passed--I never read your last letter-felt I would hear things I didn't want to keep in my head/heart. Interested in how you are."

I don't know what to do with this. I don't miss her but I am curious as to what motivated her to Google me and track me down after two decades. I also wonder why she felt it was important to tell me she never read my letter.

Receiving her email made me reflect on Me at 30 vs. Me at 50. I don't see any value manufactured dramas -- like the entire "How could you hit on my boyfriend?" scene -- anymore. I have learned that life throws enough drama our way without us creating additional tumult.


  1. Wow...I had a similar type friend...I'm also a 70s coming of age child...I cut my friend loose 30 years ago and have never looked back. Sometimes we have to love folks from afar because they're too toxic to be in our inner space.
    Good luck with whatever decision you make.

  2. Anonymous11:19 PM

    Imagine, even siblings fight because of their spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends. What happened to you and your friend is really sad. I have been treated like that by one friends and never talked to her again.

  3. Anonymous6:15 AM

    Honestly, I think that you should write her back. You certainly don't have to become bff's again, but I think there was a lot that was left unsaid.

  4. I have learned that life throws enough drama our way without us creating additional tumult.

    I'm gonna throw in here with Silver and say that maybe SHE, too, has learned a bit along the way, and perhaps now that she's also 51 she just wants to "put things right". I think I'd have to reply. You don't *have* to become bosom buddies, but what could it hurt, cause maybe you will!

    Good luck, whatever you decide.

  5. I'm with Mo & Silver. Forgiveness is always the best choice and being gracious enough to allow someone else to ask speaks volumes of your own self-worth and kindness. Like they said, you don't have to become good friends again but an email and maybe lunch with some reminicing about past good times might be healing for both of you.

  6. That is complicated and I feel for your situation. How vulnerable you must have felt sick and falsely accused by someone you trusted. You handled it much better than most would have.

    I have no idea what you should do.... except to say that your prerogative is certainly to do what brings you the least amount of turmoil and pain. Her email sounded a bit curt. Do you want more unnecessary drama? My curiosity might get the better of me if I were in your shoes. Other than that, it might not be worth resurrecting just to find out what possessed her to do such an unkind thing.

    Oops. I guess I did give you advice. Hope you let us know what happens!

  7. Wow, this is an intense story. That's so sad that she didn't believe you and trust in you. I bet she feels guilty after all these years that she didn't believe you. He probably turned out to be a jerk.

  8. So I am probably the lease touchy feely person commenting here. You wrote her a letter, she chose not to read it. She has made her choices and they seem self serving, do you feel the need to resolve anything?

    I have a letter pending in classmates from such a "friend" and I am choosing to ignore it. If I want drama, then I want the starring role at least.

  9. Such an intense story indeed. I am not sure how I would react.