My husband Gary and I were sitting at the kitchen counter, drinking coffee, when he brought up the same conversation about my college reunion that I thought we had finished discussing long ago. “You just don’t want to go to the reunion, he said “because your best friend hurt your feelings.” “Gary, I replied slowly, she didn’t just hurt my feelings, she decimated them, there’s a big difference, don’t you think?”
“What I think, he said, is that you’re being too sensitive, after all, you were best friends for four years.”
I had never wanted to go to any type of college reunion, what was the point to seeing people twenty years older, heavier, thinner with more or less hair? This time my husband pushed me to go “Come on, he said to me “why not? Everyone should go to one class reunion. Think of it as a rite of passage,”
Then, the final blow, my husband shouted “you just don’t want to go because you think Caroline might be there, admit it.”
I paused, of course he was right, but how dare he say that? Did he not know the rules of marriage? He was supposed to stick up for me no matter what. “Asshole” I replied, “that has nothing to do with it.” “Oh come on, he said, she was your best friend in the world, you think she betrayed you and you have never forgiven her.” “Just grow up,” he said impatiently.
I paused on the stairs leading up to the bedroom, gave him a killer stare and in a slow, moderated voice I said “Fine, if it is that important to YOU let’s just go” I said airily as I climbed the stairs to our master bathroom to shower, condition my hair and shave my legs very carefully.
We drove up on a Saturday morning, we checked in at the front desk of the University as if we were registering for classes. I saw my ex -best friend, Caroline, from the corner of my eye, I turned quickly away before she could see me.
“Bitch” I muttered under my breath.
“What? Gary said? “Nothing, I didn’t say anything.”
Then, as my worst fear became realized, Gary, spotted Caroline and they waved to each other wildly. He nudged me, “Look Caroline’s waving” At that moment all I wanted was a divorce attorney. I turned to look at her and put my arm up with the faintest crack of a fake smile plastered to my face.
During college, the infamous Caroline, had been my roommate and best friend. I loved her, like a sister and she was the one who introduced me to Gary; we had all been good friends.
After college we each moved home, she lived in Massachusetts and I lived in NY. We assured each other that we would always be best friends and find an apartment together somewhere in the middle.
In the beginning we talked on the phone every day. After that it dwindled to once or twice a week. Soon, I stopped hearing from her, she wouldn’t even return my calls. I wrote her but she never wrote me back. I convinced myself that she was dying and called her parents in desperation but they assured me she was fine.
I lived with that pain and that rejection in my life for many years. I just wanted to understand but I couldn’t, she wouldn’t even talk to me. Eventually, with time, It became more of a mystery and a dull pain and less of a piercing betrayal.
Many years later, on a vacation to Boston, Gary and I ran into Caroline at an Ice cream store where we took our two children, Nicholas, 5 and Erika, 3 for a special treat. We were happy, laughing, eating dripping ice cream cones with rainbow sprinkles and I froze as soon as I saw her walk in the door.
I said ” hello” to her then, so did Gary and she commented on how cute the kids were. She was about to start playing with them and I felt the flush of heat go through my body. I tried hard not to say anything and then, suddenly, my temper flared and I pulled her aside. I demanded to know the truth: “Why did you stop the friendship? What happened? We were best friends!”
She looked at me blankly, she shrugged her shoulders and I will never forget the words she said: ” out of sight, out of mind.” I was speechless.
The next time I saw her was at the reunion, she came up to Gary and me and started chatting about neutral topics, the weather, our jobs, and finally she asked about our children.
“Ben is applying to Medical school, I said and Sarah is finishing up college, with a degree in International Relations.” “What about you,” I asked somewhat sneakily. “How is your life?” She blinked and looked away for a split second and then said lightly “Oh you know me, I’m destined to live a life alone, I’m too much of a free bird to have a family,” she said chuckling.
I nodded politely, “yes, I said, slowly, staring directly into her eyes, I think you made that clear many years ago.
I turned to Gary, who by now was grinning, he took my hand and we went into the seminar together.