It always strikes me as funny when I hear full-grown adults refer to someone as their “best friend.” It strikes me as such a juvenile (and also counterintuitively competitive) concept – as if each of us has that one friend who is, like, totally waaaay better than all of our other friends and that we will retain that one best friend throughout eternity. I always find myself thinking, “I don’t need to rank my friends, thankyouverymuch. And why be so exclusive? There are probably lots of amazing people who could love, appreciate, and support me.” Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate to have a number of really wonderful, super close friends. I shudder think about having to choose just one of them to entitle “best.”
But then again, I know people who have a best friend, and the title truly seems to fit. My husband Shawn, for example, has a best friend named Jeremy. They’ve known each other since they were kids, they’ve kept real-and-actual, meaningful contact for, like, 30 years, and they’re still going strong. They confide in one another, they support each other (even when maybe they shouldn’t, winky face), and dammit, they love each other. Unconditionally. Not because they’re related, and they have to, but because they chose each other, and they want to. Beautiful, right?!
Now, to be fair to Shawn and Jeremy (also, sorry for blowing your super-macho, dudely street cred, guys), I don’t know that they would ever describe each other as “best friends.” I’ve never heard Shawn say, “My best friend Jeremy blah-blah-blah…” Rather, he says simply, “My friend Jeremy blah-blah-blah,” and you can just feel the “best” implied in there. The spirit of unconditional love, support, and connectedness is palpable when Shawn talks about Jeremy. I know, totally beautiful, right?!
So I suppose it’s not so much the concept of a best friend that strikes me as silly as it is the nomenclature. As juvenile as I consider the term “best friend” to be, even I have the sense that I have one. Or that I had one. And so then I have one. Confused? Yeah, me too. Let me try to explain.
As is often the case, I consider my “best friend” to be a childhood friend. We’ll call her “Karen” (name changed to protect the innocent). We met is 6th grade, and before long, we were inseparable, so much so that people often transposed the letters of our first names and didn’t stop to correct themselves. We were pretty much a package deal, one in the same. Taren-and-Kara. Karen-and-Tara. Same difference.
So many of my memories from 6th-12th grade have Karen smack-dab in the middle of them. There is no thinking about my adolescence without thinking of Karen. We were partners in crime (as much as overachieving, do-gooder kids can be criminals, anyway). We loved each other fiercely (and publicly – we often walked around with one hand in the other’s back pocket. Weird, I know.), and we supported each other unquestioningly. It was a powerful thing to know that no matter what, she had my back.
Now, as nostalgia is known to do, we often look back at our histories through rose-colored glasses. Although eveything I’ve said about my friendship with Karen is true, it wasn’t a friendship without shadowy spots. We had our share of drama. Boy drama (She did call dibs, after all). Girl drama (Was I her best best friend, or was the-other-she?). Drama drama (I still can’t believe we so passive-aggressively-but-definitely-leaning-more-toward-aggressive-aggressively called other people out on their stuff. Who did we think we were?! Sometimes I think Tina Fey modeled Mean Girls after us.). Adolescense is a time of push-and-pull. Everything is conflicted, overwrought, and emotionally-laden. So too was our friendship. What was never in question, though, was our love for one another.
I so loved Karen (drama and all) that in 8th grade, I penned a song about our friendship. And then I sang it to her. For the record, I can’t sing. Karen didn’t care. She loved me, so she loved the song, and she loved me singing the song. We often sang the song together. It went a little something like this:
“You are my best friend. A friend til the end. And though it’s been tough, we always seem to mend. And I love you. I’ll be here through and through. And so together, we’ll get through forever as best friends. Oooo, Oooo.”
Where’s my Grammy, amirite?! Not only did we sing that song when we were young enough that our sappiness could be forgiven, we’ve sung it as adults. On a number of occasions. Sometimes publicly (if karaoke counts as public, which I think it does). When I penned those totally-for-awesome lyrics at the wisened age of 13, I meant every word. When we sang them throughout high school, I meant them. When we tortured our friends and family in adulthood by singing them, I meant them. Even if the lyrics are lame, it’s a beautiful sentiment, right?
When we went off to different colleges, Karen and I grew apart considerably. I am notoriously and admittedly bad at phone calls (weird for someone who has so many words to say, I know), and given that it was the early 2000s, phone calls were still the primary method of contact. We didn’t completely lose touch, though. We’d hang out over holidays and summers. She came to visit me, and I went to visit her at school a few times. When I signed the lease on my very-first-ever apartment, she drove to Georgetown, and we had a sleepover on my apartment floor to celebrate. I didn’t even have electricity yet, not to mention furniture. It that’s not a good friend, I don’t know what is.
While in college, I realized – holy crap! – I’m a full-blown, loud-and-obnoxious, super proud feminist. Karen, to say the least, is not. I tried convincing her once that although she didn’t realize it (much as I had not realized it myself), she actually really is a feminist. She told me adamantly that no, she absolutely is not a feminist. It was tough for me to wrap my head around. Karen is one of the smartest, strongest, strongest-minded, most dogged people I know. And (much like me,) she’s incapable of not getting her way – of standing up and asserting her principles. So, you know, she must be a feminist. After many years and much reminding on her part, I finally came to terms with the fact that we simply don’t see eye to eye on this one. Even though I really want her to agree with me, I have genuinely accepted that she doesn’t. And I love her. Not, “I love her anway.” Not, “I love her in spite of this flaw of hers.” Just, “I love her.”
Feminism is not at all the only to-the-core-value-set about which Karen and I disagree. We disagree about parenting. We disagree about marriage, relationships, and sexuality. We disagree about religiosity. (Side note: I’d argue that we don’t, in actuality, disagree about our faith. I’d argue that we believe in the same God. I know after a number of loooong, really tortured conversations, though, that she disagrees with me about that. Thus, we disagree about religiosity.) For heaven’s sake, we disagree about whether or not Chelsea Handler is a comedic genius (She is, for the record.).
We disagree about lots of things, it turns out. Things we didn’t know that we disagreed about when we came to be besties all those years ago. Things that (surprisingly, when you think about it) didn’t impact the forming or living of our friendship in those first 10-or-so years. We rolled along, blissfully ignorant of how very, fundamentally different our worldviews are. (Another side note: I’d argue that the root of our differences in each and every area does, in fact, come down to our differences with regard to feminism, but that’s a post for another day.)
And here’s the thing: Now, armed with the knowledge that – wowzers! – it’s almost like we come from different planets, I love Karen. I wholeheartedly disagree with her ideas about gender roles and marriage, for example, and (not but) I love her and support her in her expression of those beliefs. I hope that she experiences happiness and fulfillment in them. Not like, “Oh, well, you know, if that‘s how she chooses to live, I hope it makes her happy.” Like, “I genuinely and sincerely want her to be happy.” Whether you believe it or not, there’s no judgment in that statement. No, “Bless her heart; she’s blinded to all that she’s missing. I sure hope she thinks she’s happy.” Truly, I wish her happiness and fulfillment. Period. No conditions or contingencies. No fine print. Just love and good will. Plain and simple.
This may be suprising (especially for those of you who know me well), but I don’t feel the need to tell Karen that I disagree with her about any of these things or to rehash our arguments and rebuttals. We’ve established our disparate perspectives. Moving on. Or, I suppose. I wish that we could move on. That’s where things sort of fall apart.
Over the past few years, Karen and I have seen each other a handful of times, usually at a girls’ dinner with another childhood friend. During those dinners, we laugh, we catch up, we get right back into the comfortable swing of our old friendship. It’s not that we don’t disagree on things or that the divergence of our paths doesn’t make itself apparent. But even in light of those things, we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. We realize that even though our lives have marched on in different directions and that we’re happy in each of our directions, we’ve missed one another. We hope to get together again soon.
We leave those dinners and return to our respective lives. I invite (or evite, techinically) Karen to some social gathering that I’m hosting. Sometimes it’s one of my maniac children’s birthday parties, and sometimes it’s a grown-up affair. Really, whatever event I’m hosting, I enthusiastically invite Karen. To be honest, though, before I enthusiastically invite her, I torture myself over it. Here’s a sneak-peek of the argument I have inside my head:
Don’t invite her. She won’t come. She doesn’t want to be a part of your actual life these days. She’s made that much clear. No, invite her. What’s it hurt? So she says no? At least you tried. You know you’d like to share your life with her – for her to be an actual part of it. So just invite her, and see what happens. What will happen is that she’ll decline. And then you’ll be all feelings-hurty even though you knew in the first place that she’d decline. Don’t torture yourself like that. Don’t invite her. Yeah, well. What if she DID come? I don’t want to risk missing the opportunity. Well, I guess if you invite her, it puts the onus on her to decline and break your weakling little heart. So, yeah, sure. Invite her. Dummy. Ok, send. Fingers crossed!
Every single time, Karen either never responds at all or clicks “no” on the evite. And every single time, it stings like a mother-trucker. Every single time, I tell myself, “Never again. I’m not putting myself through this torture ever again.” Every single time, I end up inviting her to the next thing. Glutton for self-imposed punishment, I suppose.
Other than the once or twice yearly girls’ dinner, Karen and I have no contact with one another. Well, unless you count Facebook. Which I DO! Being Facebook friends allows me to keep a bird’s eye view of Karen’s life. To see pictures of her beautiful and quickly-growing boys. To learn updates on when and where her family has gone for vacation. Stuff like that. Because I am an active Facebooker, I imagine Karen gets more than her fill of my constant mundane updates and feisty rants about this, that, or the other. Any time I’d thumb past a Karen post, I’d fill a twinge of bitter among the sweet lie I was telling myself, the lie being, “Yeah. We’re totally still connected. Best friends forever!”
Then one day a few weeks ago, the taste turned full on bitter. I was reading through my Facebook newsfeed while at a stop light (because OMG. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO OCCUPY MY MIND FOR 2 IDLE MINUTES?!!) when I came across a news story about a bunch of high school students who’d been caught cheating in their honors classes by posting photos of their final exams to a private Facebook page. The story immediately reminded me of my own group of rag-tag smarty-pants friends when we were in high school.
It was Sophomore year, and we were all taking Pre-AP American History with Mr. Sofa (name changed to protect the innocent). As is typically the case with Pre-AP courses, the class was pretty labor intensive and rigorous. But, like I said, we were a bunch of smarty-pants, so we were totally cut out to master challenging material. No probs. And not only were we smart, we were savvy. At some point, we realized that our quizzes were exactly the same as the quizzes from the year before. Mr. Sofa hadn’t changed anything about the quizzes. Obviously, we tracked down a Junior who had taken the course and saved all her quizzes. We asked her for them, and she happily obliged, handing over all her notes, quizzes, and graded exams from the year prior. Later we realized – holy crap! – the exams were also exactly the same. We were in full-on cheat mode.
We selected a handful (like 10, a big handful) of peers, and let them in on our little secret. We sat around memorizing quizzes and tests, each agreeing to on-purpose miss a few items here and there so we didn’t call attention to our little scheme. Instead of a study group, we had a cheating group, and we were THRILLED about it. Things rolled along smoothly for a surprisingly long time before Mr. Sofa caught on. What had happened was that on one of the quizzes (which were short-answer, not multiple-choice), the beneficent Junior who had so generously given us all her goods had answered a question incorrectly, and Mr. Sofa had mistakenly marked the answer correct. So, the members of our devious little gang promptly answered that question incorrect in the exact same way. Bingo. Caught wrong-answered, we were.
What I remember about being called in and called out by Mr. Sofa is one of my favorite memories from high school. Odd, I know. I would have expected to panic upon getting caught, but I did not. Or rather, we did not – Karen and I. While our peers were shaking in their Doc Martins and quietly admitting their guilt and accepting their punishment, Karen and I took a different route. We stood up, we stepped forward, we clenched our fists and lifted our chins, and we blamed Mr. Sofa. That’s right. We blamed the teacher. We didn’t discuss this first. We just acted, right in step with one another, totally in sync.
“Yes. We cheated,” said Karen, “But you already knew that. And we’ll accept our punishment. But…” This is where I chimed in, “But we want to be clear about who’s at fault here. It’s not us. It’s you.” Mr. Sofa’s demeanor shifted from appalled and angry to simply puzzled. He sat back onto the edge of his desk and remained quiet, and so Karen continued. “You kept the quizzes and exams exactly the same as last year’s. We’re smart kids. Did you think we wouldn’t figure that out?” she asked. “Being that we’re smart kids, we did exactly what any smart kids would do,” I said, “We used the information to our greatest benefit. Don’t doubt that we’re all – every single one of us – plenty smart enough to learn and master this material the old fashioned way. And we’re also smart enough to cut corners if given the chance. So that’s what we did.” To really drive the point home, Karen added, “If you’re too lazy to change your material between years, you can’t act all shocked and offended when we’re lazy enough to take advantage of that.”
Oddly, I can’t remember exactly how he responded or what our punishment was. I think maybe there wasn’t a punishment. I think maybe we completely befuddled him, and he just wanted to be done with us. Or maybe there was some big and awful punishment that I’ve since blocked from my memory. Who knows?
So when I saw the news story about the cheating high schoolers, I planned to post it to Facebook and tag Karen and the others who were in our cheating group. When I went to tag Karen, her name didn’t pop up. So I tried again. “Weird,” I thought. Karen has been known to periodically delete her Facebook page, as she gets fed up with social media and junk. I assumed that’s what had happened. So I exited out of my post and went to the Facebook search bar. I typed her name. There she was, with a bunch of mutual friends, including many members of my own family. “Add Friend,” it said next to her tiny little profile picture. Add friend? Add friend?!
That meant that she had unfriended (isn’t is bizarre that “unfriended” is now somehow a meaningful word in the English language?) me. She had purposefully and knowingly unfriended me, but she had remained friends with my family members. My feelers were totally hurted. And as a result, I burst into tears where I sat in the HEB parking lot.
As I tried to sort through those hurt feelers, it occurred to me that more than being saddened or offended by the unfriending itself, I was saddened and offended by the fact that she didn’t say goodbye. All those years of friendship, all those memories, and – poof! – just like that, unfriended without a goodbye. I couldn’t believe she could just close the door on our friendship so easily.
I wish I could say that I had been like, “Pffff. Screw her, then. Ain’t no skin off my back. Tra la la!” But I wasn’t. I was… devastated. I just paused lengthily before typing the word “devastated.” It seems so dramatic. But the truth is that I was devestated. In some ways, I still am devastated. As I’ve said repeatedly here, despite our differences and our growing apart, I love Karen. Always will. What she thinks about me matters to me, and if you know me at all, you know I care very little about what a very, very few people think about me. I care a whole lot, though, about what Karen thinks. Or rather, not so much what she thinks about me, but how she feels toward me. An unannounced unfriending (and thus a cutting of all ties of our remaining friendship) indicates to me that, at best, she feels nothing or is totally indifferent toward me, and at worst, that she feels yuckiness toward me. BUM-MER.
So, you know, there was obviously more crying – the hiccupy, snotty kind – along with a frantic sense of, “How do I handle this. What do I DO?!” When I would later say this part to Shawn, he interrupted, asking, “Why do you need to do anything? She unfriended you. What is there to do? Seems like she made herself clear.” That line of thinking had occurred to me, for sure, but me not doing anything is about as likely and sensical as hippos ballet dancing through my living room.
After a bit, I determined that I would email Karen. I would tell her I realized she had unfriended me. And then I would say some other things. I hadn’t yet figured out those other things, but I knew they’d come. I didn’t want to over think it. Here’s what I said to her in that email:
So I went to tag you and some other people in a FB post about some silly high school memory, and I realized you had unfriended me. I can’t say that I’m particularly surprised. I mean, even not talking in a really long time, I know you and know you’re not shy about cleaning out your literal and figurative friend list. Plus, we haven’t talked in forever. So, like I said, I’m not surprised.
What I am surprised by is how quickly and sharply my stomach dropped. Even though we’ve very clearly grown far, far apart, and even though I can accept that, I still consider you a part of my life. Of my history and so many great memories. I guess a sudden (to me anyway), unannounced (to me anyway) defriending feels like a blow to that.
Each time I’ve invited you to various gatherings, I’ve assumed you’d decline, and still, each time, it stung more than a little. I suppose I held FB as my last, tenuous link to you, and it seems I valued that more than even I understood. Anyway, all that is to say that I’m bummed that you’ve decided to sever that last link. I respect and accept your decision to do so, but, man, it saddens me.
FB or not, real life or not, whether the feeling is mutual or not, I’ll always love you, [Karen], and I’ll always cherish the friendship that we had. Because you were such an important person to me, I couldn’t shrug this off without at least telling you that and – I guess – saying goodbye.
I truly wish you the best in life, and I’ll always remember you fondly (even if bittersweetly).
Love you always,
When I sent that email, I truly expected that Karen wouldn’t respond. I mean, she might have blocked my email address, although that seemed a little over-the-top. Because I know her, I know that when Karen decides something, she does not second-guess herself. Much like me, when she goes, she goes with gusto. So I didn’t expect a response. As far as I was concerned, that email was the period after “The End” after the story of our friendship. Period.
After hitting send, I attempted to mop my face up and proceed on into HEB and do some grocery shopping like a nice, normal human being. What I did instead was (poorly) mop my face up and proceed on into HEB and did some grocery shopping while intermittently choking on sobs and involuntarily snorting and sniffling like an insane maniac. I didn’t like the attention I was calling to myself, but I simply could not maintain composure. While standing in the check out line and continuing to cry, I decided I should come up with a plan should someone be brave/crazy enough to inquire as to my well being.
“Excuse me? Ma’am? Is everything… alright? Are you… okay?” I imagined someone saying tentatively. After considering many, many options, I decided that I would respond, “I just lost someone very important to me,” because it’s true, and it conveys the weightiness of the loss. “Oh, dear,” the kindly stranger would reply, “I’m so sorry. My sympathies.” I would then close my eyes – one fat tear rolling down my cheek and holding tightly to my jawline – and nod slowly to communicate my appreciation for his/her concern.
Back to reality: No one spoke to the snorting, sobbing banshee woman. People averted eye contact and cleared the aisle to let me pass. When I got back to my car and loaded all the groceries in, I looked at myself in the rearview mirror. Oof. Not pretty. When I got to Lu’s school to pick her up, she said, “What happened to your face, Mommy? Did somebody punched you, or did you just sleep really hard?” She didn’t bat an eye when I said, “Both.”
When he got home later that night, I told Shawn about it all, and his response can be summarized as, “I’m sorry, love. I know she’s important to you. That sucks, and because I never met Karen to know otherwise, and because she has hurt you, I think she sucks, too.” Actually, that’s not really a summary of his response. That is his whole response. He’s got the gift of brevity, something I do not possess. My discussion of his response is longer than his response itself. Sheesh… Anyway, it was exactly what I needed.
I also text my mom and told her about it that night. Her response can be summarized as, “WHAAAAT?!?! Ughhhh! I cannot believe her! That’s awful. I’m so sorry! How could she?!?! What kind of friend…?! You don’t need her anyway. You have SO MANY people who love you! I love you, and you’re wonderful and amazing and beautiful and compassionate and incredible and giving and generous and awesome!” That IS a summary, as Mom’s actual response was more lengthy, but you get the idea. Very Mom-like and supportive. It was exactly what I needed, as well.
I cried and moped some more, and with each passing hour, I came more and more to terms with the end of my friendship with Karen. I still hated it, but seeing as I couldn’t do anything about it, I decided I’d have to get used to it. Then, the following day, I received an email from Karen. It read:
“I’m sorry but you have misunderstood. I am not trying to delete you as a friend. I’m sorry for not responding to Evites. Often we are unable to attend your events but honestly when I am available I don’t really want to go. Not sure if this makes sense or is right but I would much rather visit with just you than you and people I don’t know. We don’t ever get out,especially not with out children.
Anyway, Facebook… Most of the time I want to quit it altogether and because people say things and push ideas on people that they often wouldn’t face to face with a person, I unfollow several people. So honestly, you and I are very different and I don’t always enjoy your posts so I unfollowed you for awhile but I have no self control and I would check your page.
Sorry if this looks like I don’t want to be your friend. Not true. When we have had girls dinner I enjoy our time. I enjoy the memories we have. I would enjoy having more girl dinners. Not sure how else to explain it. Sorry for the confusion. I hope you are doing well. Maybe we can get together soon.”
The lawyery (read: pain in the ass) part of me has a retort and a rebuttal and a smart-ass comeback for every single word of Karen’s email. I’m annoyed that she starts with “I’m sorry but…” In my work – particularly with couples – I teach folks that any apology starting with “I’m sorry but…” isn’t an apology; it’s an excuse or an accusation veiled as apology. An apology is simply, “I’m sorry.” Or maybe “I’m sorry for [whatever I did that I should be and am in fact sorry for].” I’m irritated that she didn’t even address the email to me or sign off as herself. I’m sorry, but (heh) if the content of an email or the recipient of an email is important to me, I take the time to address the person specifically and sign my name at the bottom. But whatevs. And so many other things that irk me about the content of Karen’s response.
So, on the first and second and twelfth read, Karen’s email did nothing more than piss me off. Except… And this is a biggie. Except that she responded at all. Like I said, I hadn’t expected her to do so, so, you know, doesn’t it mean something that she responded at all? And plus. And plus, she said she doesn’t not want to be my friend. I mean, she didn’t say that she does want to be my friend, but she doesn’t not want to. Eh, eh? And then. And then, she said that maybe we can get together soon. Right? Right?
I know, I’m a mess. From an intelligent, rational perspective, Karen’s response says – basically – 1. I don’t want to hang out with you if it involves anyone who is currently important in your life. 2. I’m maybe making a judgey statement about you sometimes having social events that don’t revolve around your children? 3. I don’t like anything you post on Facebook, so I unfollowed you. 4. I keep going back to your Facebook page anyway, and what I find there is so repulsive to me that I feel the need to cut off all Facebook contact altogether. 5. Despite all that stuff I just said that sounds very much like I don’t want to be your friend, it’s not true that I don’t want to be your friend. 6. I don’t hate you when we very, very rarely get together for dinner with no one from your current life, and perhaps we could do that again sometime in the not specific, unnamed future.
So, on the one hand, Karen’s response says – essentially – the following: “Given that I have no desire or intention to be a part of your current life and have in fact severed all ties to such, I actually don’t want to be your friend, after all” (at least not based on any definition of friendship that seems remotely acceptable). BUT… On the other hand (as Shawn surprisingly pointed out to me), her response says – essentially – the following: “Look, I can’t do a full, full-on friendship with you like we previously had. There’s just too much of a divide between where we each stand now. Still, I want to remain in some sort of very casual, occasional contact to reminisce about the good ol’ days with people from the good ol’ days. Cool?”
When Shawn pointed that possibility out to me, I was, all, “Right! Exactly! I mean, what IS that mess?! It’s not any sort of friendship at all. How insulting!” But Shawn interrupted my tirade (ok, it was more of a titty-baby tantrum) to say, “No, Tara Lynn. Slow down. Is it possible that that particular type of relationship could represent a friendship? Not the one you had in the past. Because so much has changed. But some kind of friendship, anyway? Something that doesn’t include entirely closing that door or cutting those ties? Something in the middle between BESTFRIENDS! and not-friends-at-all-with-no-contact-whatsoever? Something that’s not all or none? If Karen is, in fact, so important to you – and I think that she is – wouldn’t the kind of relationship she’s proposing be better than no relationship at all?”
Ugh. He had a point. I hate-and-love when he does that. Slows my roll and reorients me. It’s infuriating-and-righting. He also said some junk about how me saying a bunch of stuff to her “just to be straight up with her” is really just about me needing to let my ego front and center. What use is being right in this situation? Blah blah blah. Also, full disclosure, this very post is the stand-in for saying lots of things to Karen herself. So, um, say hi to my ego, y’all!
Likely due to the impressive amount of stubborn in me, I didn’t submit to Shawn’s right-ness right away. I had to let it stew a few days, and in the mean time, I harassed other friends for their take on my situation. Let me just say, my friends are lovely, patient, giving people, and I love them. They listened to me, talked through various interpretations of Karen’s stance, and considered various courses of action that I might take in response. In the end, Shawn-and-Friends agreed on a number of things. First, that I am a lovable person with whom anyone in their right mind would want to be friends (did I mention how wonderful my people are?!), and second, that they are sorry that I’m feelings-hurty and that they wished I was not in such a feelings-hurty situation. The other thing that Shawn-and-Friends ultimately agreed on was how I might respond to Karen’s “Let’s be friends-ish, sorta-kinda-sometimes” suggestion. Specifically, they agreed that a sort-kinda-sometimes friendship-ish with someone I love dearly and don’t actually want to lose altogether is far more ideal than a never-not-ever friendship-at-all.
My good friend whose name starts with a “Me” and ends with a “gan” said at the end of our very long conversation about Karen, “Look, is it shitty that she feels that way? That she only wants you around in a nostalgic, frozen-in-time sort of way? That she doesn’t want to know and love you-right-now-and-in-the-future? Yes, I think it’s shitty. Super shitty. But at least she’s up front about it. She can’t or won’t be a part of your life – which is a completely lovely life – right now. And she’s said so. She’s clear about her boundaries. If only a small percentage of people could do that – could know and be clear about their boundaries – our lives and jobs would be so much easier. So, you know, go to dinner with her once a year. Reminisce. Then come hang out with the people who are in your life right now and who are happy to be there.” See? Such lovely humans, my friends are.
After all the wrestling with myself and torturing my friends and loved ones, I’ve finally decided what to do about Karen. Here’s the email I just now sent her:
Sounds good. Have a happy new year.
I can hardly believe it myself, but I’m totally at peace with my response, and I plan to do just as my friend “Me” followed by “gan” suggested. Should the occasion arise, I will go to dinner with Karen, I will reminisce and have a genuinely lovely time, and then I will come home to my wonderfully full cache of folks who love me and accept me and support me yesterday-today-tomorrow.
I mentioned somewhere waaaaaay back near the beginning of this post that I had a best friend once, back when the title “best friend” was developmentally appropriate, and we remained “best friends” or “best friends-ish” for an impressively long time. I’m glad for that. And, still, we haven’t been anything close to best friends for quite a very long time. We’re no longer anything close to best friends, nor will we ever be again. And while it’s certainly sad, I’m truly okay with that, too.