Saturday, June 26, 2004

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I got another email from her today. For the past 3 years or so, I have gotten an email from her maybe twice. It's funny . . . there was a time that we chatted on the phone every day. For the past couple of months, I have been receiving email every week.

When I get them, I do what I always do . . . give them a glance, and delete them, unanswered.

Laura and I were close friends for a short while. I met her in 1991. I had just divorced, and I started a job where she was already employed. We became fast friends - I was weathering the storm, and she was gearing up to face one. We worked side by side, and shared stories, laughs, and impossible deadlines. When work ran really late (which it did quite often) we would grab a bite to eat at Waffle House and decompress while she took slow drags on her cigarettes and nibbled at her cheese eggs and raisin toast.

Laura and I were the same, in alot of ways. Both from small southern towns, both had crazy fathers, and bad relationships with men. We had both gone to college, despite the odds. We were both smart, but not smart enough to avoid major pitfalls in life, and so we found ourselves working for a slavedriver, and dreading to go home to lonliness and unhappiness. My house was empty, and her house might as well have been.

During the course of that first year of friendship, I was her sounding board as she went through the paces of a painful divorce. I helped her move, and spent many a night watching her closely when she had drank way too much. I remember one night in particular, after a few hours at a Mexican restaurant, I chased her outside, trying to get her keys away from her. She was drunk, and being silly, and pressed the trunk release button. She was faster than I was; she crawled in the trunk, threw the keys over the railing of the parking lot into an oblivion of overgrown weeds and construction debris, and laughed as she proceeded to shut the trunk. I still remember hearing her singing and laughing as I waded through the weeds to retrieve the keys and let her drunk ass out.

Even after we both moved within the company, we still remained good friends. A year or so after her divorce, I casually introduced her to a really nice contractor that worked in the office next to mine. Their relationship began that minute, and I commiserated with her as she made her way through 2in years of dating and 1 year of engagement to him. I was so pleased when she asked me to be her matron of honor, and I spent as assload of money on a gorgeous shower, and enjoyed every minute of it.

In late 1994, I met my husband, and for those that have read here from the beginning, you already know that we had a whirlwind courtship. We flew to Vegas to get married, alone. Our families threw a surprise reception for us upon our return, and I was surprised when I didn't see Laura there. The explanation was plausible.

As 1995 rocked on, I was anxiously awaiting the birth of a baby girl in September. The pregnancy was a little complicated, and I was put on bedrest the last couple months before my daughter was delivered. At that time, I lived a couple miles from the office, and I got calls from Laura occasionally, asking me how I was, filling me in on the gossip, and always promising to come have lunch with me. It never happened.

After my maternity leave was up, I got news that I was being laid off. I was devastated - I had worked so hard for that company, and we so desperately needed the money. I called Laura, and she said "I know what you are going to tell me - I knew a few weeks ago, but I didn't want to say anything." She had kept her job, and had been given a raise to take on some of my duties. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. But that wasn't her fault, I reasoned.

The next couple of years were a blur of contract jobs, therapy appointments for my daughter, and struggle. We rarely talked then. I knew we were both busy.

One day, I got an email from her with joyous news - she was expecting! I called her, and the excitement in her voice was infectious. Her pregnancy was a little tricky, too, and she delivered her baby 8 weeks early. She didn't have any family here in the city, and I did. My mom watched the baby while I sat with her at the hospital, calming her nerves and teaching her how to diaper one so tiny. The baby shower I had planned for her went on without her, and her husband and I gathered all of the gifts and carried them into her. She was beaming, and she seemed to come out of her postpartum funk for a short while.

Over the next year, I got the occasional call, full of questions about the baby: what should he be doing now? what was a good mother's morning out program, where was the best children's clothing stores? Oh yeah, and as an afterthought: how was my daughter doing? Those were dark days for me, my daughter was struggling mightily, and I was receiving bad news on a weekly basis. She tried to listen, and she would give me a faint "Everything will be fine . . ." before she hung up. I knew it was hard for anyone on the outside to cope with what I was dealing with. It was too sad, and I understood her reluctance to delve into it.

By some miracle that I will never forget or understand, the dark clouds gave way to bright skies. My daughter improved dramatically, and I was so pleased and proud of her progress. I threw a big birthday party for her 4th, and invited Laura and the baby to come. She RSVPd on my answering machine - she couldn't come - her son had a Gymboree class that day, but she wished us all a good time.

The correspondence pretty much ceased - from both sides. She was a busy mom, I was a busy mom. These things happen, and I thought of her often, and hoped things were going well.

In 2000, I was pleased to discover that I was expecting a new baby! After the family was notified, I called Laura, and got the answering machine. I left her a breathlessly excited message, and waited for her call. And waited. One week, two weeks . . . I never did hear back from her. I called again, and reached her this time, just as she was heading out the door. I gave her the good news, and she responded with an enthusiastic "Fastastic! I wish I had more time to chat - let's catch up soon!"

The next time I heard from her was when I received a birthday party invitation for her boy, the week I was due to deliver the baby. I called and told her that my husband would bring my daughter, since the party was close to the hospital, and my daughter loved parties, and it would take her mind off waiting for me and the baby to come home. She never did visit me in the hospital, and she never came to see me when I went home.

We moved into our new house in 2002. She has never seen my house.

It was dawning on me that my friendship with Laura was over, and it hurt. Alot. I felt sad, and I mourned it. I tried to maintain a generous attitude, but I was mad. Hurt and mad.

The email that I received from her this past April contained the teaser, "I have some good news!" in the subject line, and "Call me!" in the body. I deleted it.

The next email was a resend of the first. I deleted that one, too.

Since then, I have received more email, informing me that she was expecting a baby girl later this year. One asked me to start saving up my magazines, that she would be on bedrest and would need them. One asking when I was available for a girl's dinner out, and one was an email addressed to me and several others announcing the pregnancy, her apology for not keeping in touch, and a request for all to contact her and catch her up.

I can't be too mad at her. It takes two people to have a bad friendship. I have just decided to stop participating.

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