Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Horse Walks Into A Bar...

I received a letter today from a former friend. I recognized the handwriting immediately. I've been thinking about her and how our relationship ended. She must have read my mind. She and I used to do that frequently, ending each other's sentences, saying something completely loony, out of the ball park as the other was thinking it. A kind of Johnny Carson, Carnac the Magnificent...but we were always on the same page, always.

We met at work. I immediately liked her. She had this head down, mop of hair in the eyes demeanor. She liked me too, which made me adore her even more. I had heard stories about her before she was hired. A manager had known her for 20 years and they were friends. I heard about her horrific childhood and how she became a ward of the state. I heard about the foster homes she had been in, and the abuse physical and mental she endured. She ran away often and had an alcohol problem. I almost felt cheated of a true friendship in those early stages. I knew so much about her, before she had a chance to tell her own story, in her own words.

From the moment I met her, drama was her second skin. Her mother was a pill popping, wisp of a woman who always needed money or her electric would be shut off. She had various doctors who "pitied" her and would in kind write prescriptions on a whim. Her mom phoned the store saying she had run over a garbage can on her way to the liquor store. At least she thought it was a garbage can. Her side view mirror was missing. I can't remember if the police were involved, but we all were.

She was so eager to be loved and to love. A double edged sword. She chose women to date. Over the past decade I knew her, she had three loves of her life, "this is the one" experiences. The first girlfriend I was introduced to was a tall brunette maybe 8 years older than Lee. They had been together for several years and already had a tumultuous "can't live without you or I'll die" union. Another story relayed to me, was the girlfriend was so angry at someone that she literally shit on that person's front porch. If I remember, there were accusations the girlfriend was cheating, and always had.

The second girlfriend was friends with some of Lee's other friends. They moved fast and furious and had an apartment together with in a few weeks. I had them over for dinner to get to know Barb. She clung onto Lee in a possessive, dog pissing on territory kind of way that made me uncomfortable. She was sullen and guarded during the dinner. Lee told me Barb didn't like me and was jealous of our friendship. There were so many warning signs, red flags we all saw. We would console her, give her advice, shake our heads and whisper.

Why do we choose the friends we choose? Usually we make friends with people we work with, an almost forced social situation. You learn to like, admire, or not tolerate certain people. It's a romance, a falling in love period. It's sharing intimate details and secrets. It's letting those know what makes you tick. It's being your most vulnerable, naked to that person.

My hesitation is letting someone know all of me. Maybe I don't want them to know my secrets, my quirks, my hangups? I don't want to reveal all of myself. Maybe this is why I don't have lots of friends. It is such hard work and I am quite selfish and greedy.

I ended my friendship with Lee because she let me down when I needed her most. I won't go into the gory details other than to say I was discriminated against at my former job and took my employer to court. She promised me she would go to bat for me. She had vital information and offered her full support. I dared not ask her, she offered, and I greatly wanted and needed her deposition.

As my lawyer and I were readying our paperwork, Lee panicked and backed out. She phoned me and with lots of pregnant pauses in our conversation could not bring herself to say she was scared. I was the one that said "You're not going to help me are you?" She asked if I was mad at her. I said no, just disappointed. That was over three years ago. I often think of her and her dogs, and the haphazard way she lived her life. I won my case, but lost my job and people I thought were my friends.

My husband asked "Well, do you want her back in your life again?" I'm not sure how to answer that question. I don't miss the sadness in her life. I don't miss the drama and the people who used her up and wanted more and more. I do have a handful of fun, carefree, wheezy laughter moments but maybe not enough to flesh out what I thought was our friendship.

I have yet to reply to her letter.

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