I didn’t know it then, but that trip Henry and I took to Cincinnati in August of 2005 would end up being the last time I saw Christina for quite awhile. We had a great time together, but I guess I was just too naive to see that it was a struggle for her to be “just friends.”
Especially when I found out I was pregnant shortly after that trip. She was ecstatic for me because she knew that Henry and I planned it, but she began crossing boundaries, wedging herself in between Henry and I like she was the third part to the procreation equation.
“I’m glad I got to see your vagina before it gets ruined in child birth,” she joked one night on the phone. But I didn’t find that funny. The things, the intimate relations, that had transpired between us that spring was not something that was sitting comfortably with me at the time. I felt uncomfortable and a little gross, to be honest, when I thought about it. I had asked her to stop making comments like that, that saying lewd things like that wasn’t very conducive to us trying to maintain a friendship.
And then she began insinuating that she was experiencing sympathy pregnancy.
“Are you craving peanut butter?” she asked one day. “Because it’s all I can think about eating so I figured it was probably because you were craving it.”
It was things like that, minor irritables, that were all building up and collecting inside my head. It made me angry that she was trying to include herself in something that was so personal to Henry and myself. This was all on the heels of her buying me a vibrator for my birthday. A vibrator that Sylvia picked out.
For once, I had no words.
“This is getting weird,” Henry murmured when the birthday package arrived.
“Getting weird?” I questioned.
So when I called her one Sunday morning in October and discovered that some girl named Onna had spent the night, I was thrilled. I knew that the only way for her to be “normal” around me again was by distracting herself with another girl.
“Oh, I’ll let you go!” I said, happy that she was living in the moment for once. That’s the thing – my friends would joke that I would likely be so consumed with jealousy if Christina ever found someone else, that whatever poor unlucky girl she chose would wind up dead and buried in the woods somewhere. But I wanted her to find someone. I wanted her to move on from me and Sylvia and find someone suited for her, someone who could give her the life she wasn’t letting herself live.
But Christina quickly insisted that she wanted to stay on the phone with me, that Onna was still sleeping anyhow.
Onna was apparently some (young – as in 18) friend of Steve’s. Red flag, right off the bat. Christina said she liked her because she had the same style as me.
“She wears scarves in her hair and likes really big jewelry,” Christina explained. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
Christina told Onna things about me, so Onna found me on MySpace and, as any other 18-year-old asshole would, began sending me obnoxious messages. Mostly just those stupid pictures where you stare at it only to have something jump out and scream. I called Christina and asked her what the point was, why Onna felt compelled to contact me through MySpace in the first place. If she had something to say to me, and she clearly had something to say to me, I’d have appreciated actual text and not Internet jackassery.
Christina admitted that it was a little weird, and that Onna had expressed mild jealousy when learning of me. I took her MySpace messages as a form of immature harassment, but wasn’t too concerned about it. Christina, however, was pissed off and told Steve what Onna had been doing. According to Steve, when he asked Onna why she was sending some pregnant lady random MySpace messages, her response was to laugh hysterically.
Meanwhile, all Onna was really doing was giving me easy access to her MySpace profile, which was rife with blinkies, misspellings and bathroom photos of her looking like she had eaten Raven Symone and then donned her skin as a suit. I was horrified and offended that Christina would draw any comparison at all between the two of us, scarves or no scarves. She just looked dirty.
To make things worse, Onna began throwing fits of rage in my honor. She threatened to leave Christina unless she cut all ties with me. This was all in the first week, without ever having any interaction with me outside of MySpace (and I wasn’t even responding to her lame messages). One week into their relationship and she was already stepping up with stipulations.
“You’re not really going to let this little girl end our friendship, are you?” I asked Christina one day.
There was hesitation on the phone line.
Onna trash-talked me, called me a cunt, called me a whore. She was trying to change Christina, made her feel inadequate and “stupid” for having an interest in writing raps.
One week into their relationship, and she had already proved that Christina wasn’t free to be herself.
I’m not sure where Sylvia was during all of this. Probably fucking half the female population of Ohio while spying on Christina from behind their bushes.
We went round and round about this, Christina and I. Every day, she was calling me, emailing me, whining about what new way Onna had dreamt up to disrespect her, and what brand new unsavories Onna was spitting about me. And then in the same breath, she was admitting that yes, she had let Onna spend the night again. But oh, the fact that Christina was squealing all the things Onna was saying about me?
“That’s me being a loyal friend,” Christina insisted.
Funny, because it didn’t feel that way to me. It felt like I wasn’t being defended. The fact that she was letting Onna shit all over our friendship made me wonder how important I even was to her. The message that was ringing loud and clear in my head was that Christina didn’t really need me around now that she had some random tart spreading her legs for her. It made me feel like she never valued me in any way outside of someone to conquer sexually.
And the fact that she was letting herself be manipulated and put down by an eighteen-year-old piece of ass made me lose respect for her myself. Somewhere in the middle of an email full of anger and obscenities, I told Christina she had a lot of growing up to do.
Her response was to tell me that she was 24 and never had a real relationship. She was looking to change that with Onna. I told her she was pathetic and stopped talking to her for a few weeks. Sometimes it’s just easier to walk away and let them figure it out on their own.
By December of 2005, Onna was nothing more but a bad memory. Christina and I had been OK, but that was probably mostly because I was too busy with school and cooking one super-sized Chooch in my belly to really bother much with Christina.
However, MySpace would come into play once again. I received a friend request and a message from some guy named Sam who worked with Christina. In his message, he explained that Christina had told him all about me and my rape fantasies, and that he has his own rape fantasies too.
Now, let me me interrupt this story to explain that by “rape fantasy,” what I really meant was that I had always wanted someone (read: my boyfriend, Henry, father of my child) to dress up like Michael Myers and chase me around. And then, HEY WHATEVER HAPPENS YOU KNOW?! I’m certainly not out there, hitchhiking nude, hoping for some beefy trucker to hogtie me and drag me into the woods. But evidently, that’s how Sam took it. Thus began a lovely 2-day MySpace courtship wherein Sam sent me rape poems and told me about how he was at a poker game with his boss and all he could do was think about raping his wife. I forwarded the messages to Christina, blocked him, and then called her, using my Screaming Angry voice.
“In what world is it OK for you to share with your co-workers, or ANYONE, intimate details about me?”
“It’s not OK. It was wrong,” she cried. She apologized, but the fact that she had no explanation for why she did it not only confused me, but made me completely not trust her. It felt like a betrayal.
I just kept imagining her at some sleazy bar with the guys from work, speaking lecherously about me while hawking into a spittoon. Like I was just a conquest, someone for her to brag about. Not a friend.
I had never felt so dirty before in my life.
Meanwhile, all of my friends were waving red flags, calling her toxic and reasoning with me to just dump her from life. I knew they were right.
“I’m about to be a mother,” I said to her. “I can’t have people like you in my life anymore.” And that was it. She never tried to explain herself, never once contacted me after that. Not even when Chooch was born. Christina never really was one to fight for what she wanted. Why should she, when she could just as easily sit on her ass and complain about how pathetic and miserable her existence is.
With me out of the picture, Sylvia emerged from the trenches, pocketed her binoculars, and moved in with Christina and her mother. Shocker.
If you’ve read this far, you know that clearly at some point I invited her back in, the psychic vampire that she is. I’ve never given any friend as many chances as I gave her. And because of her, I really don’t give friends any chances now. Thanks to Christina, I’ve perfected the Walk-Away. But I saw something in her and I didn’t want to be wrong about it. Deep down I knew that she hadn’t done these things intentionally, that there had to have been an explanation. Because as idiotic and immature Christina was when it came to cultivating and maintaining friendships, she never would have gone out of her way to back-stab me. It was always the opposite with her. She’d jump through flaming hoops just to get me a grilled cheese. I was the one person she was always scrambling to protect, and even before Henry, she’d be the first person to open her mouth to defend me. Sometimes the only person.
When Onna and Sam happened, though – I was exhausted from being her friend. Exhausted from listening to her cry about the same things over and over when she refused to take a stance in life. Exhausted from the drama. I was pregnant. My family had turned their backs on me. I didn’t need any more drama. So Onna and Sam were my way out. I saw it as an easy exit, and I took it.
During the summer of 2006, when Chooch was a few months old, I found that old memory box she made me. I sat with it on my lap for a few minutes, debating on whether to trash it, set it aflame, drop-kick it into the river. I waited for that sense of roiling hatred to take over my belly.
That sense never came.
Instead, the sense was overwhelming sadness. I missed her. I looked at my baby son and suddenly regretted that she wasn’t there for his birth.
So I emailed her. I was too stubborn to be truthful about my intentions, so I instead pretended that I was wondering if she wanted the memory box back. Because if not, I was going to throw it out. With the lines of communication open again, she poured her heart out, explained what really happened with Sam the Rapist, that he overheard her trying to sell her co-workers on my blog and that when they asked her what I write about, she was rambling off the weirder topics I’ve had, including the Michael Myers bit. Sam took it out of context. After I blew up on her that December, Christina went into work and told everyone what happened. Sam ended up losing his job. But she never told me that then, because she was afraid to contact me. She’s always been afraid of saying the wrong thing, exacerbating my anger.
And with Onna, she was only trying to move on with her life. Unfortunately, her choice of person to do that with was a poor one.
So I forgave her. You probably think I’m an idiot; I don’t need to be told that, because I already know. I look back on this now and think, “My God, what a fucking fool I was.” There was always that hope that things would change, that I could fix her. “It’ll be different this time,” Henry would hear me swearing all the time. And Henry would never say anything, because he knew I needed to find out for myself. I didn’t see it as abusive while it was happening, so it was easier for me to keep opening my arms to her. Abuse if physical, I’d assure myself. Meanwhile, we were asphyxiating the shit out of each others’ souls.
Two weeks later, she was on my doorstep, meeting my son for the first time.
And the game was back on.