Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ephemeral friendship

Last year I had an unexpectedly lovely year teaching at another university away from Home City. Certainly the best thing about it was the connections I made – to students, to be sure, but most of all to new (and rediscovered) friends - and one fab aunt who lives there. Of the friends I made, there was one in particular – Faux Girlfriend, my GF soon came to call her – who was the closest new friend I’d made in at least ten years. There are others I’ve met in this decade who are just as close now, but with Faux Girlfriend, it was the speed with which the friendship cemented itself that was rather breathtaking. I was living in that city, and we saw each other nearly every day – and drank a bottle of wine together every Wednesday night, after my night class. Our bond was forged through teaching – we taught in the same department and were both teaching full-time for the first time. We relied on each other to talk through the crazy feelings that brought on.

When I moved back to Home City on June 1, it was Faux-GF who drove me here. Ever since I had decided to take this other job and turn down the renewal at last year’s uni, we had been sad about the upcoming loss of our everyday connection. We swore – she did, in particular – that we would talk all the time.

We were in touch until the end of July. Then GF and I went to this music festival that she goes to every year. I’d considered going to this annual weekend for several years, but it was Faux-GF’s talking it up – her excitement at the thought of us being there along with all the other friends she goes with – that committed me to finally buying the tickets.

GF and I hung out with Faux-GF a bit at the festival, but we certainly weren’t joined at the hip…she was there with such a large crew of family and friends. But it was nice to run into her several times a day, to watch a concert together here and there, and catch up.

I haven’t heard from her since.

GF and I had arranged that Faux-GF could stay in our apartment in Home City the weekend after the festival – we were going to be away – and we left her a clean apartment, fresh sheets, a friendly note and a key in the mailbox. She never showed up, and never contacted us to explain why. I have emailed several times, called once, and had no response. She was supposed to be in Home City for almost a week in late August – I never heard from her. As well, since the spring, she’s been talking about how she is coming to my New Uni City for a conference in September. She was so excited about seeing me there. I think the conference is starting this week, but she hasn’t been in touch about that. It’s been such a profound silence that I’ve taken it for a message and given up.

I’ve thought a lot – probably too much – about this over the last few weeks. You know, the classic racking of the brain: “What did I do???” What I do know is that I was in a pretty bad mood at the music festival – GF and I were having a terrible time together, our relationship felt (very temporarily) precarious to me, and it was about 1200 degrees out. I think I whined to Faux-GF too much, which wasn’t what she needed on this weekend that she loves so. But I realized this toward the end of the weekend and smartened up. And I also sent Faux-GF an email about 36 hours after the festival ended, acknowledging and apologizing for my whiny mood, and also asking if she wanted to go on a one-day road trip with me later in August, when she was in town. To which, of course, I never got a reply.

This has been such a disappointment to me. It really hurts. I imagined this friendship would last, and know that wasn’t an unrealistic expectation, given our closeness and the way she represented it. I would have thought that, even if she had some sort of issue with me – be it whininess, or whatever – she would value the friendship enough to bring it up. That can be awkward, of course. But she is a very straightforward gal – and I had made clear my openness and willingness to self-examine by sending her an email about the whininess.

GF and I are going to last year’s Uni City for our Thanksgiving Weekend, in three weeks. I made this plan back in the spring – so that I could visit with all the people I spent time with there, but chiefly to see Faux-GF. Now I’m not even sure I want to go. GF is kinda insistent that we go – if only to see my most adored aunt and her hilarious family for a weekend of family-style debauchery – but I don’t even know if I can bring myself to contact Faux-GF.

It really stings. I guess I just need to reconcile myself to the ephemerality of friendship. To value it for what it was, and that's that. But it's hard; I miss her.


medieval woman said...

I always find myself commenting on your posts, Hilaire! But the things you talk about (your mom, friendships, teaching, etc.) all resonate with me so much. That is a really hurtful situation - especially the not showing up to stay at your house and not explaining why. My first reaction is: she might not be doing okay (mentally, physically, or both). I.e., she might be checking out of everything. She sounds like such a good friend, I can't imagine her just completely ignoring you after you were going through a bit of a rough day at the festival.

Another thought I had: had she ever met GF before? Might she have had feelings for you and found it too difficult to see you with someone at the festival? (Not that she wouldn't have *known* about GF, but sometimes seeing and meeting someone's partner can bring up latent emotions) I'm not sure if Faux-GF is interested in women or if she had ever met GF before, but I was trying to think of what "new thing" about your interaction with her might have sparked this withdrawal. I don't think it's anything that you did - especially because you sent her an e-mail apologizing for being upset at the festival - it would have warranted a "hey no problem" response even if she was trying to pull away from the relationship for some reason.

Which is why I think she might be going through something narsty and all-encompassing of her own.

Ramble, ramble...

Texter said...

I agree with MW. My first thought was that she may have reconsidered her 'friendship' with you and realized / recognized she had other feelings, and perhaps want to detach so as to not be disappointed or hurt? But if not that, then perhaps something is going on with her? Or perhaps, as you say, it was a relationship borne of proximity, one that doesn't do well virtually?

Hilaire said...

MW, I love your comments! Keep 'em coming - they're really helpul perspectives...gosh, want to be my therapist? (Don't worry, kidding...)

I don't think Faux-GF had a thing for me - I never got that know how you just *know* when that's the case, even if you can't admit it? She had met my GF several times and liked her a lot. Though she has been involved with women before, she has a boyfriend. (Not that this means she can't have a thing for someone, but you know what I mean...)

I do wonder if there's something wrong in her life, as you both suggest. That thought makes me feel bad and helpless - I just don't know what to do about it. I would hope that she'd think I was someone to talk about it with, but you're right, MW, sometimes people withdraw altogether...

Sigh. We'll see.

Thanks for your really helpful comments, both of you. For a number of reasons, this weekend I'm just loving up the blogosphere so much.

MaggieMay said...

Not that this helps, but sometimes some people are just *like* that; the guy I call "The Mythic M" on my blog is that way. One of my other friends described it this way: "He's your best friend when you're standing directly in front of him"-- but out of sight means LITERALLY out of mind for him.

It hurts though, no two ways about it.

Hilaire said...

You're right, of course, Maggie. There just are those kinds of folks. And that could well be what this is. Faux-GF always told me she was a chaotic, disorganized person, but that surprisingly that wasn't coming out with me. And it didn't, though I could sort of see what she meant in theory. Maybe now it is, for exactly the reason you cite - out of sight, out of mind.


nightdriver09 said...
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