Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Once Upon A Time

my ex-best-friend and I were thicker than thieves... like Fric and Frac. We did everything together, went everywhere. She was definitely the more dominant one in the relationship which was fine by me at the time. She had a pretty big ego, which was OK cuz she had reason to be; 6 ft and blue-eyed, blonde (dyed but it suited her) and sang her ass off. She was secretly involved with a married man, but around the time we started hanging out, he left his wife and moved in with her.

I was recovering from a major break-up with JerseyBoy. My heart was a mess... as a matter of fact it was the beginning of the Great Unraveling of what had been a pretty structured life up till that point. With EBF I was content to follow her around and play second fiddle cuz it was easy. But I loved her, actually, and we had great times.

The boyfriend turned out to be psycho, and I had just gotten involved with who would later become known as BD/LP/IFKALP/SD/Parenting Partner. She spotted the crazy in him because he had the same traits as her crazy Ex, but I was already too far invested in the relationship to cut him loose like she said I should.

She finally managed to cut the psycho loose one July 4th, and in celebration she and I took off for Rye Playland, one of my favorite places on the planet. We both loved riding the Dragon Coaster at night. As we stood on line, she turned to me and said "You're the best friend I've ever had, and I love you, and I bet we'll be best friends when we're old and crotchety. I don't ever see us not being this close." We got on the Dragon Coaster and watched the fireworks that Rye sets off on Friday nights.

I'll never forget her saying that or that moment... I wanted to remember it in case what she said came to pass. Because I knew the odds of it happening were actually pretty slim. I'd already had a BestFriend I didn't speak to anymore.

About a year later I suspected I was pregnant and before I was even certain, I told her. I told her everything first. We went looking for a pregnancy test but it was late and we couldn't find a store that had them... we drove down to the A&P on Bruckner Blvd and were amazed they didn't have any. Despite the fact that we already knew BD was crazy and I dreaded telling him about the pregnancy, the prospect of a baby was a little exciting, and she told me that if I was, and if I decided to keep the baby she'd be there every step of the way.

It turned out I was, and that I was right about BD. All hell broke loose, and he made my life miserable. And through it all, EBF held steady, sharing my cravings, riding my moods. If I felt weird or uncomfortable I'd get a call from her complaining "This pregnancy thing is really uncomfortable!" Or I'd get a call early on Sunday morning: "I'm craving hashbrowns... is that your craving, or mine?" and usually it was mine and we'd laugh that she could feel absolutely everything.

In my gut though, I could feel her not wanting this baby as much as I had decided I did. When it came time to choosing a Lamaze/birthing partner, I couldn't see her in there with me, so I chose another friend, BeautifulHair, to go with me. My reasoning to EBF was that BeautifulHair already had a baby and so she'd know what to do and what to fight for, and also, EBF worked a lot of nights singing so if she was out on a gig when it was "That Time", she wouldn't have to cut it short. But I expected her to join me and BeautifulHair as soon as she could.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, EBF finally met TheGuy she'd later marry, and started spending a lot of time with him. I didn't mind so much... by this point I was fat and slow and got out of breath easily, and the nesting instinct had kicked in. And I could feel her pulling away...

but it wasn't until after the Sun made his debut that I realized we were done. I was dropped. And it was then that I needed her most. The excitement was over and people went home, all the cute little baby clothes were washed and put away, BD had gone home to his mother's basement, the Professor had her own family to take care of, Poppy had just been operated on for bladder cancer and there I was alone, with a tiny, squawling baby and a baleful-eyed cat. I needed her. I had other friends, ShoeFly and the CrazyWoman, both of whom already had kids, but EBF had been my girl and I needed her. But she was "busy" she told me when I confronted her, spending all her time with TheGuy she would later marry and she was sorry, but she just didn't have time. I was crushed. On top of the very mild PPD, and the newness of life as a single parent, I just cried.

It was then that I realized that true girlfriends are hard to come by, and it's easy to fall in love with a new friend and think she'll be "the one". And much like an intense but brief love affair, you experience all the same intensities, the excitement... and when it doesn't work out you have all the same sadness. People grow apart in any relationship, and it doesn't hurt any less whether it's a boy or a girl. But if you're hetero, it's all the more difficult to break up with a friend because it can be very confusing.

I read an article a few years later about what happens when you break up with a friend, and it was the first time the pain I felt over EBF was validated. And it's kinda funny, because there are women, just like there are men, who are "serial monogamists", or in the case of a best friend "serial BFFs". They stick around and the friendship is intense, and then one day they find a new friend and drop you like a hot potato. And it sucks ass, just like it would when it's a guy. A little bit after EBF and I "broke up", I ran into one of her EBF in the supermarket. She asked me how EBF was, and I told her I didn't really see her anymore. She looked at me sadly, this woman, and said "I'm sorry. That's how she is... intense and your best friend and then 'poof'! one day she's gone... has a new best friend. She did it to me, too."

With time,you figure out who the real girlfriends are... the ones who are always steady, the ones who always call, the ones who give you shit--and even if it pisses you off you take it cuz you trust where it's coming from, the one you count on to pick up your kid in a pinch or feed him or keep him for you when you forget your head and go off on some drunken spree. The ones you know are family. And like good men... they may not be the most exciting and you may not giggle girlishly over stuff, but when push comes to shove you know, beyond of a shadow of a doubt, that they have your back...

You miss the EBFs, if you're brave enough or crazy enough like me, you cry over them. It hurts...sometimes for years and makes you highly mistrustful of "girlfriends". But in the end the steady women you do have in your life more than make up for the EBFs, and you look up 15 or 20 years later and they're still there... calling you, giving you shit, feeding your kid in a pinch... still family.

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