I did a dumb thing a few weeks ago. I did a dumb thing and I’m not one bit sorry, or one bit ashamed, no matter how embarrassing it was, or that it cost me a friend. Shall I elaborate?
I shall elaborate.
It all began with the dastardly new iPhone. I could blame it, but I won’t. The phone didn’t know that people can be sucky, and that I can be stupid. It should’ve thought, though. I mean, it’s supposed to be a smart phone.
When I got a new phone, it didn’t remember which phone number to pull from, of contacts that have multiple numbers saved. So, if I texted a person who had multiple contact numbers saved, it just went to the “top” number in their profile, instead of what might be the correct number, or the most frequently, or most recently used, number. How was I to know that the phone was stupid, when I’m too stupid to remember their correct number, in the first place? Or, to delete old numbers? What does the phone expect from me!?
This matters, because I have (had? She didn’t die, but it feels weird) a relatively flakey friend. Everyone has one. The one who takes days to respond to texts, if at all, sometimes. She’s a perfectly lovely person. She waves when she sees you, she’s pleasant and fun, but despite having her phone surgically implanted in her palm, a simple, “wanna come over?” can go unanswered for a week, if at all. She’s harried, rushed, late and busy, though it’s difficult to tell, exactly, with what.
Anyway, as we planned our road trip to M-icky-gan (like that? it’s how I pronounce Michigan, now), I asked my friend if her kiddo wanted to water our plants, and feed our hamster, for a few bucks, while we were away. He’d mentioned, several times, that he’d loved to earn some pocket money, by doing chores around the ol’ homestead. I didn’t want to offer something like that without running it by mom first. So, I texted.
And, I texted.
And, I texted.
And, I texted.
This went on for almost two weeks.
With no replies. In the interim, this same family stiffed us for a negligibly small amount of money. The kind of money that makes you an asshole for asking for it, but makes you mad because it makes you feel like they stiffed you to see if they could, you know? I didn’t think that at first, but as the texting thing went on, it felt more and more that way. It was really a sucky situation. They bought something from us on the neighborhood swap page, and then didn’t show up with the right amount of money, like a bad Craigslist sale buyer, and then vanished, despite living across the street. It was weird.
Meanwhile, no responses. And, with busy kid schedules, it’s not uncommon not to see them for a few days. But, these few days stretched what felt like longer than normal, because I was becoming increasingly, “Omg, WTF did I do to these people?”
I felt this way because, duh, the ignored messages; but also because, as we all know, my bestie, who hates me, has moved back. The one we remember from incidents as “I decided to stop being friends with you, after a decade, because you are an atheist, even though I knew that all along, but I’ll pray for you! ‘K byeee! C-ya on the flip ‘cuz I’m a good Christian!”
I don’t see her much, of course. Every once in a while, I catch a glimpse of her, here or there, visiting her friends in the neighborhood; but, my favorite recent event was a party that I wasn’t invited to, during which there was clearly raucous drinking, and the ladies sang a song, for which the chorus was, “Rachel McClaaaaaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnn.” It’s nice to be reminded that I’m exactly fourteen years old, as I relax in bed, at night, with my husband, and hear such a song waft through my bedroom window. It didn’t bother me so much to be taunted by children, except it was interrupting the best part of my day, which was cuddling and Forensic Files.
Dude. Forensic Files.
Alas, my suspicions of girl-on-girl gang-ups were piqued, perhaps, and likely, unnecessarily. But, once you are on the outs with a gaggle of girls, it happens to the best of us. I refuse to play anymore. I remove myself from it, entirely, or to tolerate anyone who does. So, I sent an email.
See, I thought I’d given enough space for a response, and I thought that I was being purposely ignored and boxed out. Enough time. Enough patience. So much ignoring. Seemingly…..Oy.
I addressed my friend, and told her that I thought that I’d been a good friend to her. I told her that I didn’t know what I’d done to deserve whatever sudden change had occurred but I was hurt. I gave examples of my support, and not laughing at her, and explained that I was saddened; but that I understand her desire to go with the flow.
I also said she owed me $10. Had to get that in at the end, of course. Fiscal responsibility is, indeed, important.
Then, Bryon had an epiphany.
My phone had texted a dead phone number.
“Aren’t you relieved?” he’d said. “This means that she’s not been ignoring you.”
Um no. It just means that she’s ignoring something even more hurtful. Instead of ignoring a totally benign message like taking care of plants, she is ignoring a random, very distraught email that made me sound like a crazy person, to her, completely out of the blue.
So, I gave it a day, and then texted her. I told her if she doesn’t check her email, and she values our friendship, not to, and to come talk to me. She said she saw it, and then returned my money, and a book she’d borrowed.
Being sick is such a valuable life tool. It hones your life-focus into a razor sharp line. I don’t believe that this beautifully-souled, kind person would’ve dropped me, if she knew me, deeply. But, on the other hand, she had a chance. I showed her that I was vulnerable. I showed her that I had limited, or no, confidence in my ability to form friendships with women. I showed her that I was fragile and hurt by being shunned. I showed her that I was scared of being a pariah; so, if I thought it was happening again, I’d lash out. This means that if a friend saw something like that from me, they’d have asked if I were okay, or what happened, not simply vanished into the gaggle of women.
Crazy Rachel: confirmed. Right?
Or: defensive Rachel: confirmed. Hurt you before you hurt me.
So, I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry that I lost a friend that, it turns out, I can’t count on to stand by me. I’m not sorry that I lost a friend who I can’t count on to ask me a question, when something goes wrong. I’m not sorry that I lost a friend who won’t be there. I am sorry that it’s weird in the neighborhood now. But, that’s nothing new. I’m always the odd man out.
The thing is, I have no more time or use for "waving friends." Sure, it's nice to be friendly with your neighbors, and be pleasant, that's not what I mean; but, I have no more time or energy for relationships based on that. It's a waste of time or energy, and I get frustrated when I discover that that's what an entire friendship truly was, which is what this turned out to be. It saddens me. I thought we were friends, or building a relationship that was built on sharing and more. But, it was a "wave from the driveway" friendship, and nothing more, which makes me sad. Those are a dime-a-dozen. I've got one with everyone in this neighborhood. I've got one with every neighborhood I take a walk in. Anyone can talk to me about the weather, or chat about goings-on.
My dad once said, “you’re too hard on people,” which was clearly not a compliment. I choose to take it as one, now. If you’ve made it through my screening process, you are a good person. You are loyal, decent, honest and true. I may have only a few people near me, but they are good people. They are decent people, and they are people who I can count on.