My good friend, arguably my best friend, asked a favour of me yesterday: would I keep an eye on her house while she and her family were on vacation? Not an unreasonable request. I’ve done it before. I know she thought I would say yes but as we stood in her entryway I hesitated. Then she said, “You don’t have to say yes.” I said I would have to think about it and I would let her know — not really aware of the fact that she and the kids were leaving today, until she said, “Well, M (her husband) will still be here for another week, so you can just come pick up the key.” I said no. Standing right there, about 75 seconds after I had told her I would have to think about it, I looked at her and said, “I’m going to say no. I don’t think I can do it.” (And let’s not even talk about the key, okay?)
I left, and for the next, oh I don’t know, 12 hours or so, was having all kinds of agita because I said no to her. What kind of a friend am I? Haven’t I told her time and again that she can always ask me for help if she needs it? That I will always be there/here for her? That she should never feel like she’s taking advantage of me? Yep. And I said no.
Listen, I’m still not settled. But you know what? She doesn’t want to ask me for help anymore. She doesn’t want to ask me for anything. We’ve had a not-necessarily-troublesome-but-still-not-normal (for us) relationship over the past 10+ months. It has seemed to me that she has withdrawn from the friendship, even felt like I had been cut out of her life. I questioned her about that, she said it wasn’t her intention and she would try to be a better friend. I pointed out that I didn’t need her to be a “better” friend, I just needed her to be the friend that she always had been.
So, we work together at our kids’ school, running the biggest annual fundraiser that we put on. We have to see each other, we have to go places together, we have to make it work. And it does indeed work well, we work well together. And it did work again this year. And then, it was back to this distance between us. We’d see each other at the gym once or twice a week, but that was it.
The school year ended, we had no contact for about the first three weeks of summer vacation, and then we both went out with a mutual friend for a girls’ night. I hadn’t really even known she was coming with us. We talked a bit, but we were in a group. A few days later I got a text asking if BoyGenius and I would like to join her, her three kids and two additional children at a local pool/park. BoyGenius was away so I said thank you, but no. The next week BG and I were going to swim at another local pool and I thought I’d be nice and ask them to come along. Her kids would rather stay at home with their own little pool, would we like to come there. Since her son is my son’s best friend, and they hadn’t seen each other in a while, either, we said yes. It was an enjoyable enough afternoon, but things still don’t seem right.
Another couple of weeks have gone by, her son spent 5 days/nights at my house, we all went out for dinner once, and now we’re pretty much caught up in the timeline. I was out shopping the other day and as I walked into a store, a gorgeous blouse caught my eye, and the first thought I had was how good it would look on my bff, so I bought it for her. Took it to her yesterday because I knew they would be leaving for vacation soon. That’s when she says,”Oh, since you’re here, ….” And that’s when I said no.
Here’s the thing. I know, I said I would always help her if she needed it; I said she could ask me anything; I said I would take care of her. Those things haven’t changed. They are not now untruths. I have not forsaken her. But that’s not what this was. At least not how I see it. This almost felt like being taken for granted. Or something like that. I don’t know, maybe I overthink things sometimes (definitely) and maybe this is one of those times (definitely), but I think if she had talked to me about it even, say, two weeks ago, I probably would have said yes. But she didn’t. So I said no. I mean, what if I hadn’t stopped by? Would I have gotten a text a few days later? Did she just mis-plan her time and not get it done? Did she ask someone else who cancelled at the last minute? Did she forget? I don’t know. We don’t really talk that much anymore so I don’t really know what’s going on in her life.
So here we are. I said no. And I feel bad. Sort of (definitely). Bad enough that I had to write it out. And now I feel bad about that. Like I’m somehow betraying the friendship because I’m telling you all about it. Not her. But I don’t have the opportunity to talk to her about it, and I’m pretty sure she won’t want to hear it anyway. A few months ago I got a “You know you can talk to me about anything, right?” and I responded with a “You know that’s not true anymore, right?” It didn’t go any further.
Maybe I was right all along during my childhood: I never actually had a BEST FRIEND. I had my neighbour across the street who I would consider my best friend, but I know I wasn’t hers. I didn’t stick with any particular group of friends through public school or hang with any one clique in high school. I was a floater. I think I may have been better friends with my teachers than with any of my classmates. And you know what? — it worked! I survived all the bff drama because I never had to deal with it. Until now — at age 50. Great. This and pimples, too. Welcome to adultolescence.
Whatever. I said no. I SAID NO. I’m sure I’ll feel better about it by the time she gets back in two weeks. Maybe. Probably (not). Perhaps. For sure.
Maybe. I hope so.