October 24th, 2006
Christina left for Ohio Sunday afternoon, a few hours before a bogus bomb scare made for some hot Greyhound terminal-evacuating. Our weekend was steeped with making fools of ourselves in a mélange of haunted houses, turning baby-oriented television programming into politically-incorrect satire which made Henry tug uncomfortably at his collar and even leave the room, and making Chooch cry in horror as we rehearsed the theatrical laughs which I assigned to us. Mine was modeled after Tom Hulce’s Amadeus, but it packed a bonus ladling of gravy by way of an over-the-top walloping shrill which almost made Henry shit his pants when I spontaneously debuted it; Christina’s was based on Phil Collins’ maniacal scoffing in the Genesis song “Mama,” with a dry-heaving emphasis on the final Hah. We unleashed these well-honed peals of obnoxiousness at a haunted house on Saturday night, much to the chagrin of those forced to accompany us.
It was so stupid how it happened, too. So juvenile. I emailed her out of the blue that summer, after six months of ice cold silence, pretending that while I was cleaning I had unearthed the memory box she made me, as if it hadn’t been sitting out on a shelf in plain view ever since she sent it to me. In the email, I said, “If you want it back, let me know. Otherwise I am just going to pitch it.” It took her a week to reply; she didn’t have Internet access at her house anymore, she apologized, and went on to say that she wanted me to have the memory box. But if I was only going to throw it away, then yes, she would take it back.
That was all it took to open the lines of communication again, to draw her out, because I knew she needed that prodding. Christina would never contact me on her own, not when she was that afraid of me.
I thought it would be weird when she came back into my life that August, four months after Riley was born, yet we had picked up right where we left off, as if no time had passed at all. As if she had not missed the birth of my son.
I was now a mother.
We had spent half a year a part.
She was back with Sylvia.
But I wanted her back in my life. I wanted her to know my son. I was willing to forget the past and start over. Even after she admitted to me that while I was pregnant, she had secretly hoped I would give birth to an ugly baby. I can still hear her saying that and it makes me recoil slightly, like she’s still slapping me in the face from 300 miles away.
Her appearance was different. Startlingly different, and when she walked up to my front door that day, for the first time after we put it all behind us, I thought she was a Mexican man who had the wrong address. She had cut her hair really short. Gained a lot of weight. I attributed this to the fact that she was shacking up with Sylvia. (If I felt Sylvia was the best I could do, I’d probably let myself go, too.) My inner shallowness used this as a weapon to completely annihilate any lingering feeling, glimmer of attraction, or dusty residue of desire that may have carried over to 2006 in spite of all the drama and disgust she had crapped upon my life, like an entire season of Jersey Shore with dysentery. I assumed the same went for her – I still had a tender C-section scar and a spare tire of elastic flesh sagging around my torso. Figured that should be more than enough to make her want to puke at any sexual thought about me.
(It is here I remind myself to look up the definition for naivete and then cold-cock myself with the dictionary.)
People weren’t happy that Christina and I had reunited. On her side, it was her family and Sylvia. I can’t remember when it happened, if it was right then or a little after, but Christina and Sylvia’s 1587th go-around eventually perished; with me back in the picture, Sylvia was presenting her predictable “Her or me!” ultimatum. And on my end, it was Henry who was groaning and making silent predictions for how long this particular tap dance down Crazy Lane would last. But Chooch took to her immediately, and that made Henry soften. Christina treated that baby like he was her own family, which was definitely more than my own family was doing. Seeing her with Chooch, it made it easier for me to forget the last year.
Christina was good about keeping her thoughts to herself. So good that I didn’t even realize she was even still having those sort of thoughts. I assumed we had finally made it, finally arrived to that mesa in our lives where we realized platonic friendship was the only thing we were meant to have. And for the first time since we met, we were able to talk on the phone daily and hang out more than twice a year without all the blood pressure-raising screaming matches, whining, and sexual overtones. We would have long and deep conversations about how much we meant to each other and both promised to never let anyone try to tear apart our friendship again. We would make memories like the one at the start of this entry and it would make me think, “I could never have this with anyone else.” It would make me think all the shit was worth it, all those tears and heavy hearts, to have these moments, our own little private microcosm of giddiness and inside jokes.
We were too dumb back then to realize that the only ones tearing away our friendship was each other. It was just easier to blame all the Alishas and Sylvias and Onnas, but if we had the faith in each other that we so stupidly assumed we had, maybe we would have been able to block out the naysayers. Maybe we would have had enough respect for ourselves and each other to cold shoulder those nagging emotions that made us repeatedly “try it one more time! This time it will work!” Maybe we would have realized that we were forcing two pieces to fit together like a toddler attempting his first puzzle while his fat mother was busy watching her stories.
I needed her to be my friend. But she was always going above and beyond that, doing things for me that no other friend has ever done, defending me against every little shitty comment slung toward me on LiveJournal, in life, from my family. She made herself so available to me, made me depend on her more than I should (she even admitted once to doing that on purpose), that it made it hard for me to really have any other friends because she set the bar so motherfucking high. She was my rock, the only person who believed in me. Why would I want to talk to anyone else when they wouldn’t say half the wonderful things to me as Christina would? When they wouldn’t even come close to understanding me like Christina did?
This is how I fucked myself. This is how, even though I had a new baby, Henry and the most golden of best friends, I was lonelier than I ever had been. Which is exactly what she wanted.
I have no intention of stopping this without resolution, but I don’t have that nagging urge to purge anymore. The truth is, writing everything this far has helped me get over it. I no longer think of her and feel that torturous tear in my heart, not since that night last August that found me sharing a bench in front of the Holiday Inn with Jessy, projectile vomiting into her lap all my feelings on this subject. Ever since then, I no longer regret not having that one last parting conversation with Christina. I have no hate, no love, only ambivalence. I have not once even attempted to find out what she’s doing, where she is, how she is, who she’s with (because, well, isn’t that obvious?). Because I know she will never change. Christina’s life is like a stagnant pond – it will always be there, still and reeking, maybe just with different diseased pests hovering above it.
This thing I shared with her for six years, it has, through a year of hashing and re-hashing, metemorphized from a relationship into something of a sterile noumenon, this thing that I will no longer allow myself to look back upon fondly but rather store in my mind as an experience from which I learned to stop giving so many motherfucking chances.