Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A foolish life

My best friend recently had a visit from a friend she had not seen in three years. They met each other in a night class, hit it off, and enjoyed spending time with each other for a couple of years. Then each moved away. Over the next three years they stayed in touch via telephone calls and email, growing even closer. She struggled with self-confidence issues and graduate school; he struggled with unemployment and came out of the closet. They may have shared their victories, I think, but it seemed that they fell more easily to the lamentation side of things. I wasn't party to their conversations, but I imaged the scene from "When Harry Met Sally" where Harry is moaning over the phone. mmmmmmmmmm. mmmmmmmmmmm. mmmmmmmmm. "Oh my god, you won't believe what happened today..." " I am having the worst week ever..." mmmmmmmmmmmmm. Nevertheless, she really loves him and couldn't wait to see him again at long-last.

So anyhow, said friend came for a visit for Thanksgiving. He really couldn't afford the plane ticket so my best friend used her frequent flier miles. She took time off work, cleaned her house, planned a slew of things to do, and... he apparently hated every minute of it. His comments were of the "everything here is so... blah" variety. Apparently life in the DC metro area is very bland and cookie cutter compared to his home city of Seattle.

In snatched cell phone calls here and there best friend had hinted that things weren't going well. "Nothing I do is right," she hissed from a restaurant when he went to the bathroom. "Nothing is making him happy!"

My husband and I were supposed to go out with them on Saturday night. It was to be a Meeting of the Best Friends evening. Best friend calls me from a movie theater Saturday afternoon. "We're about to see a three-hour movie," she whispers. "He wasn't happy with my restaurant choice for tonight. He wants to go somewhere unique. Help!"

I am an amateur foodie and an avid reader of local restaurant news and reviews, so I agreed to see what I could do. I made reservations at a Moroccan place that features a belly dancer on the weekends. Sounds unique, right? And it got good reviews. So I call and leave her a voice mail detailing the plans.

She calls back three hours later. "He says that he's tried Moroccan before, but he's willing to try it again."

Willing to try it again? Whoops.

That didn't bode well but we plunged ahead with the plans. Seattle friend was... not the most brilliant conversationalist I've come across. I don't know if that's his personality, or if he was brooding because he was having such a bad time in blah-ville, but I can honestly say that I've never asked so many questions in my life. ("So, how many siblings do you have?" "What music do you like?" "Whoops, what's the best way to get an olive stain out of my shirt?" Best friend had apparently just given up and was sucking down Long Island Iced Teas, and my husband was trying but this really wasn't his problem, so there you go.

We went to an Irish pub after that had some lovely live entertainment, but that didn't seem to get him too excited, either.

Now, I tend to be a pretty forgiving person. My friend Sue tells me I am too forgiving, that I should grow a thicker spine and just hold life-long grudges like she does. (I've tried and just can't do it) I don't let people walk all over me, but if someone has offended/hurt/betrayed me, and I can see that there was a good reason (even if the reason is that the person doesn't know any better), then I can forgive.

But when someone has hurt my best friend this way?

She called me crying on the way home from the airport. "I knew he wasn't having a good time. I can accept that. But when he says that everything here is so blah... when he says he doesn't know how I can live here..."

It reminded me of the scene in Love Actually where Karen is confronting her husband about his infidelity. She says, voice breaking, "Yes, but you've also made a fool out of me, and you've made the life I lead foolish too."

He made the life she leads seem foolish. And on purpose, too. Isn't that one of the most unforgivable offenses?

Even through her tears she said she could understand, that he was in a bad place emotionally and that he must be very unhappy to have taken it out on her.

I thought it was the "misery loves company" idea that had bonded them. Only as long as the misery has outside sources, I guess. The kind that's caused by the company doesn't go down so easily.

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