I agreed to be taken along for the ride and company to the Fallbrook Mall by Heather. I figured my holiday was over, so I felt no pressure at watching others beat each other up over trinkets. Was pleasantly surprised by just how well behaved all but one furious lady driver was as she backed up in a 20 mile an hour arch while honking simultaneously.
People were oddly polite, but in a relaxing way. One homeless seeming busker played a harmonica in a corner outside Walmart, and while waiting for her Baja Fresh torta, a homeless seeming senior citizen came and yakked in strange syllables at Heather. The poor woman had a torn and dirty sweater on. An on looker from another table asked if we knew her, and we shook our heads no. I wondered aloud if the senior needed a meal, and the onlooker informed us that homeless seeming senior had multiple twenties on her. I remarked that it is too bad we don’t take care of our own.
An old acquaintance from high school invited me months ago to his wedding reception that was held last night. I haven’t attended his bi-yearly parties the past four years, as I decided after one final falling out that I didn’t want to breathe in the same air as my ex.
I spent four years writing a memoir on my life, and in the process came to understand many truths about myself. One truth was understanding why I let people treat me the way I did and where that stemmed from.
Back in 2008 the economy crashed, and I had concurrently not knowing taken on a job teaching at a charter school in the inner city earlier that year. While the pay was better than any I had ever earned, the school was a disaster, and shut down shortly after I left my teaching post mid school year.
I had booked a small three night cruise with some girlfriends prior to walking off of that dangerous job. While on my mini holiday, I stupidly made the mistake of calling my husband to say hello from a port, whereupon I received an earful about how my older shih-tsu had taken ill, and what nonsense the vet recommended to my husband.
In the end it turned out that my fur baby had worms, and needed a liver medicine to reduce his potassium level; the little guy loves bananas. But at the time, as Trent had known and watched my fur baby for me, and me and my husband after we were married, I called Trent from the port to ask if he could help my husband with the sick dog, thinking he knew Karma’s personality and what was normal for him as he too had lived with him, Karma’s first four years of life.
The sometimes helpful Trent was in quite a mood as he was on the verge of finally tying the knot, was completely rude, and I was heartbroken and stunned. What the fuck had I done? Why was Trent even on my menu to call for help? Yes, he came and helped me while I was down and out and living in Hollywood, with the mice that invaded my kitchen and to move some furniture, but that was all out of guilt. The man made out like a bandit from a mixture of my tenacity and connections, and left me with absolutely nothing in return, save a guilt ridden hand to help with some mice and occasional handy man jobs.
Having been invited to his up coming wedding, and with my current stressful work situation just behind me, I lost my mind. I sent an email to a few of the people I had been close to in my high school circuit, and told them that Trent was a bad person, and not to go to his wedding. Why didn’t he have his own friends? Sure, I made the mistake of telling everyone originally that our split was an amicable one, but that was forced on me really out of my own desperateness, as our relationship had been anything but. I was an asshole who just needed so much, and would do anything to get what help could be gotten from the world around me.
Will, whose wedding I went to just last night, took it all in stride, as did some of the smart, savvy people in the group. But two of the people I had been closest to, essentially told me to shut the fuck up and stop whining, they loved my ex, and who cared if he didn’t know any of them before me?
I made the tough decision that there were plenty of people to know in the world, and not talk to anyone that sided with Trent. I had considered these people I saw the few times a year to be like the surrogate extended family I do not have. The truth hit me hard when I woke up and realized that these folks were not that. And so, I never again went to one of Will’s events, and avoided those people like the plague. I did see Will once or twice just on our own as he is a nice guy.
When I received his wedding invitation a few months ago, it was a real quandary for me to decide emotionally if I could handle going to this event, and if it was worth it for me. In four years I had kept on keeping on, found new jobs, and boot strapped it working on this math credential. I made plenty of new Friday night friends and a few better ones, and really didn’t need to see any of those folks. But as Will had invited me, I booked a hair blow dry and decided I would go. I even volunteered and did do his bride’s wedding reception hair for free. “The gift of wedding hair”, my friends joke.
Viola was there, and she had gone through her own weird crisis back in 2008. We had been friends who would meet up to talk or shop. She had always been manic, and exceedingly narcissistic and vain; a pursuer of the fame dream, wanted to be a rock star and song writer; dated people who could boost her career. I hadn’t held it against her exactly, that she had the brains to go and get through UCLA in under four years, didn’t seem to have to work all of the menial jobs I had worked, and then lived at home for the next decade shopping and singing for very little income.
She came to me when I was in between teaching gigs and doing hair, my fall back task when in doubt. Apparently at the time she had just recently attended some seminar near LAX where you pay a small fortune to have someone purport to you the ideas from The Secret, and tell you to get rid of anyone negative and pursue the shit out of your dreams. Unbeknownst to me I had quoted her $25 for my cutting services and instead charged her $30.
Even though I never did really approve entirely of her career choice, I had always thought of her as a go to friend for coffee or shopping and a chat. So when she so rudely yelled at me and told me in a lengthy diatribe of an email we were not friends anymore, I was deeply wounded. I had fantasies of punching her if I ever ran into her or those few others I had thought of as family, and turned out to be nothing more than just people running around living meaningless lives of their own. Or lives they were trying somehow to make sense out of.
In typical me fashion, I looked the part last night. Had my hair blown straight, had my brows shaped and nails primped according to the occasion; and their my husband and I were. At this wedding with people I had know half of my life, some who I had nothing against at all, and others who left deep scars in my psyche.
The truth of the matter is, I had so much baggage leaving my parents environment that I was bound to carry it with me into my life and relationships. One of the most important things ever said to me by friend Steve was, “If you can’t get along with your folks, then who can you get along with?”
At the event I got along with everyone, even though there was that friction of the old resentments I felt at the arrival of four years ago. But I love to banter and chat, and throw into conversations where ever they are being had. I crammed in with everyone to that little photo booth for group photos. It was nice to see people and talk about their kids and peripheral lives.
Right as we were leaving, I did manage to tell Viola what was on my mind. That before Daniel my husband was with me, I had never had a cell phone (she always had had one paid for by God knows who). Once I had one and was teaching and driving, I would call her from time to time to say hello. From the moment I was engaged to Daniel, she was always too busy to talk to me. I’d call her maybe once a month. As this had been my relationship with some people, we were all busy, I never did take it personally.
Viola would say that she was so busy and couldn’t talk because she was busy “building her nest egg”. She was a dreamer, and always coming up short on those dreams and survival money. People are who they are, and I don’t generally hold it against them.
Finally last night I mentioned to her that I would call her as I finally had that cell phone, and had no idea she had moved on and didn’t want to be friends. The very last time I had called her had been after attending a four-hour math class, then dinner after class with a local friend.
Viola was a “song writer” and writing just that day on facebook about her late night sessions. I had called her that night at apparently one in the morning on my drive home, with the thought in my head that she was probably up being an artist, writing music. I was wrong and got yelled at, at the time.
I did get to apologize for those things at the end of the night, after keeping an emotional distance most of the evening save for my one liners. She told me she had been going through a lot at that time and not to worry at all about it. And I don’t, but felt good to have said what I did. That she had been going through something too had been obvious to me. But I just hadn’t realized our friendship had come to an end. And even though she said yesterday in that obligatory fashion that we should hang out sometime, I really don’t feel the need to go back down those roads.
The people I was acquaintances with and spent every New Year’s Eve, Chirstmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July with were just that, acquaintances I had known and gone to events with every year. They chose Trent, and I chose me.
We all have histories, shared and private. We need to look out for each other. People go through rough patches all the time. Between the homeless lady, the high school acquaintances and Heathers sad, lost ex. boyfriend I saw after at her party last night who also apologized to me and visa versa, there is a message out here; from Connecticut to the homeless to our neighbors, our communities, etc, we are each other’s problems. We need to realize that and take a minute to listen to each other, sometimes not even verbally. In doing so, we help ourselves, and each other. And just maybe, future Connecticuts could be avoided, if we each took responsibility for one another in some small way.