Remember me? That fun, eager to please, book lending friend of yours? You were probably one of my very best friends despite our short time together. I loved that first time you invited me out. I was shocked when my assistant covered the receiver with her hand, extending the phone to me.
“Jule, is Lisa.”
“Hey! What are you doing Tuesday night?”
I immediately assumed you needed a favor: the baby picked up, the dog walked, the groceries shopped for, any one of the mundane tasks I reveled in accomplishing for you because I loved you. And truthfully, because we acted like family. These were the things you did for family.
“Nothing. What’s up?”
“Wanna go out? I’m thinking dinner and drinks?”
WAAAAHHOOOOOO!!!!!! She likes me! She really likes me! I couldn’t believe it! Here we were: separated in age by a decade and at least half a dozen contrasting life decisions. I approached friendships with trepidation: my high school years were riddled with one mean girl after another, each knocking down a different part of my self esteem. My college years helped remind me of my good characteristics, and resulted in some of the best relationships of my life. My post-grad life brought me to you, your husband, and your daughter, a relationship that felt familiar and fantastic. It was as though I had finally met and connected with “my people.” On that afternoon we planned that you would pick me up on Wednesday, your hubby would stay with the baby, we’d do dinner, we’d hit the bars, and another fantastic summer night would be giggled about for years to come.
We did go out that night. And when you dropped me off at 3 AM, I broke down sobbing, having seen behind the Lisa curtain. Dinner started with you detailing the diamond earrings you demanded as a push present then progressed to you blatantly making fun of Johnathan- his dancing, his mother, his fashion, his work ethic. By the time we left dinner and headed to drinks, you “confided” in me that you’d left Johnathan and Rebecca six months earlier and even filed for divorce. Your marriage was in trouble, but you resolved to stay married. The night ended horrifically for me, a spectator in all of the festivities: shots, pitchers, a wedding ring migrating to your right hand, creatively spun “single girl” tales for a group of young MBAs. You disappeared. Taking off with a strange guy was one thing, asking me to lie to your husband about it quite another. I was devastated. I felt betrayed, embarrassed, sick, and utterly disgusted.
The next few weeks passed quickly. I was on the cusp of a fantastic career opportunity that relocated me. My first month away you called weekly, usually putting the baby on the phone. Rebecca was just about two and hearing her say my name always made me smile. I sent care packages, you reciprocated. When I came home to visit at Thanksgiving, you three were my only socializing. At Christmas time, I looked forward to our “family dinner” and was shocked that you planned it for a night Johnathan was away. New Year’s Eve I spent alone. I should have known then.
By March, specifically my birthday, you were gone. I didn’t get so much as a phone call, let alone our usual cake/card/gift exchange. In April, my phone calls went unanswered. On May 12th I heard the rumor for the first time. Apparently I was sleeping with your husband.
In the ten years since that moment, I’ve thought of you and your family every single day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. My heart aches when I think of the slander, the abandonment, the loss of the relationship. I never slept with your husband. I never betrayed you. I never lied to you. I loved you with everything I had and earned a broken heart and bruised reputation. Four years ago, having learned that you STILL perpetuated this lie, I called you. I emailed you. I emailed Johnathan. The stony silence comforted me. If you weren’t ready for the confrontation, perhaps it was because you knew your own guilt in fabricating such an ornate piece of fiction. Perhaps you would have had to confront your own infidelity, dare I say infidelities. I will never know.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Rebecca now has to attend two dinners, traveling from your home to your ex-husband’s. Your ex-husband is dating a lovely woman, from what Facebook reveals, and it’s nice that they are geographically compatible to you and your new hubby. I wonder if you cheat on him, too. It never occurred to me to get my books back. I’m finally to an emotional place where I miss them far more than I miss you.