Sunday, July 29, 2007

never ask a question...

I'm starting to question the relationships in my life. There's one girlfriend of mine at the front of that line. We have known each other for years. We always moved in distinct but parallel circles growing up on the east coast, only developing a relationship when she moved to Toronto a few years after I did. We saw each other a few times when she was new to the city but she was in a relationship. She has always been the kind of girl who focuses all of her energy on one thing, and for her, preferably it is a man. That relationship did not last and we saw each other at a mutual friend's poolside barbeque a few summers ago and we started to spend time together.

We had very little in common outside of hometown, religion, and that our parents are good friends. At one point we started meeting for coffee, drinks, or even just hanging out in the evenings after work and watching television. The whole time I knew that we were filling in space for each other. There was almost this sense that I should be careful at how close I let us get. Like what my Mother would say when she used to take me along to William Ashley's:

"Don't touch anything. If you break it you buy it."

She is one of those people who demands a great deal of attention, whether she is saying her father has cancer or that she can not decide what color to put on her walls. It really makes no difference. Designed to give people what they need, I often find myself obliging, but I am exhausted when I leave her and always hungry for something, like we had gone out for dinner but there had been nothing to eat.

She is married now and she is always full steam ahead. I fulfilled my duties as her maid of honor, even though anyone who really knows me knows how I despise weddings. Especially elaborate, typical weddings. Of course that did not get factored into the equation when she was making selections, and it certainly did not sensor her grandiose ideas and expectations of the bridal party.

Right now her focus is on making a baby and it is all she thinks and talks about. I no longer want to be involved at this level. I want my own life. Only when they are mine will small details like this matter to me.

When she has things on her plate I never hear from her. When she is bored or in the mood to vent about something and there is no one else around, she hunts me down, literally. She phones, she shows up in my neighborhood, at work, she even waits outside my therapist's office.

Tonight she came by to borrow something she needed, of course right away. So it did not matter that I was cooking and that I was about to sit down to eat. She would not know. She did not ask. I guess it's just Rachel, alone, I imagine she thinks. She can't possibly WANT to be alone.

She called from the car. At first I offered to run it down to her and she accepted, but then she said something that made me realize she was in the car with her husband. With someone else in the care she would not have to park, yet she accepted my offer to come down to her without a word. I was sitting down to eat at the time and so I thought, why should I bring this to HER? I'm doing her a favour. She can come up. So thinking I was being very clever I called her on her cell and asked her to come up to my apartment. I told her I wanted to show her the new lamp I bought.

She came up, talked about how bad her week was. The cat is sick, her husband's parents are coming to visit, along with her grandmother, and then asked me, as an afterthought, how mine was. I lied and then directed her attention to my lamp.

I could immediately tell by the look on her face that she did not like it. She doe not try to cover anything up. I wished I had not asked.

"It's not really my taste."

"Ok, but it's not for your house", I said a little too harshly. I wondered if she even noticed. I softened my voice, trying to come across casual.

"Try not to think of it for your house", I prompted, my patience thin. "Given the style of the furniture in the room, objectively, what do you think?"

"I think it looks like something my Bubbi would have in her apartment. It's too ornate. Too grandma."

Keep in mind I bought the lamp because I liked it and I did not actually want or need her opinion. I only asked because I was sick of catering to her. I wanted her to go out of her way for me this time.

I tried to pretend it did not bother me. I thanked her and gave her what she came for.

"I hope you didn't mind hearing that. I figure you wanted to know the truth or you wouldn't have asked."

I envy her in a few different ways, but most of all I envy her in her obliviousness. It is unmatched.

I just wish I had the courage to tell the truth. My therapist seems to think it is as simple as that. He never tells me what to do or how to do it. He never gives direction, but I prompted him a little harder than normal and maybe he could tell how close I am to cracking lately.

"You could have said, 'Shoshanna, you're right. I did ask for your opinion, but you went too far. There are diplomatic ways to say things, but instead you chose to insult my taste. That is not a quality I look for in a friend. I certainly don't think I have ever been that kind of a friend to you.'"

Keep in mind the poor guy was a fish out of water telling me what to say, but I think it was a valiant effort and I got the point he was trying to make.

"But how can I do that?", I asked him, suddenly tired. "It would be uncomfortable".

"It should be", he shot back. "For HER. You can leave her with that. Why should you be the one left feeling uncomfortable when she's the bitch."

But then what, I thought? If that's the end of the friendship, so be it?


Lx said...

so be it.

Funk Delivery said...

So be it. But it's not like you have to tell her to get lost. Just ignore her until she gets the point.

It's perhaps not quite analogous, but essentially all of my college friends are people I didn't really get to know until after my second year. It was a very bumpy road -- I more or less had to rebuild from scratch while everyone around me enjoyed their networks of convenience, however contrived and mediocre -- but with years of hindsight, I'm a lot happier now as a result of the struggle.

Rachel said...

So be it.