There is an old friend. We met working at a restaurant. We liked each other immediately! She was kinda crazy and off the wall and just beautiful. Because I can tend on the reserved side, I’m often both drawn to and jealous of people like that. Shortly after we met, she was telling her boyfriend how much she liked me and described me as her other half. What she meant was that half of our personalities and likes were exactly the same, but the other half was complete opposites. We had a lot of fun over the years deciding which things were same half and other half. We were kind of attached at the hip for about 5 years. The most significant same half things were our love of our grandmothers, and rollerskating (but absolutely not rollerblading).
Our friendship ended badly. Somehow over the years the nexus of our friendship turned from happy, fun, wild, hilarious adventures into alcohol fueled, depressive, angry toxicity. I decided I was done and completely cut her out of my life, shut it down, cut off all communication, blocked her, dunzo. I’ve been terrified at the idea of what it would be like when I would eventually see her again, imagining a harsh confrontation or some kind of dramatic explosion. Somehow, over the last 3 years, we have never run into each other socially, which is pretty miraculous. We had a lot of the same friends, but over the years somehow things just fell into place without any of our friends taking sides. Things just fall on one side or the other of the divorce. Like the roller rinks. I had mine (the cool one), and she had the one where her grandma is a dj (actually just as cool, but it attracts old white people who have been waltzing on skates for years).
Cut to last night. As I was rounding the corner to the side with the benches at the roller rink, I spotted her walking down the aisle. My heart started beating out of my chest and my nasal passages immediately cleared. I froze. I was so nervous! But after that, I decided to get ahold of myself. I always imagined that if I ever saw her again, I would bolt. But I wasn’t doing that. This was my happy place, I’ve become very comfortable here. I did some deep breathing to slow my body down. I noticed that I didn’t know what to expect, and that it could be hostile, sure. But what other outcomes could there be? Being that I didn’t know what she was thinking, what was the more helpful thought for me? For a moment I imagined us smiling at each other, genuinely happy to see each other. It was a long shot but it helped me calm down. I enjoyed my skate, chatted with a couple of people, and checked her out when she happened to be skating in front of me. She was with some little skinny guy who I knew wasn’t her last known serious boyfriend. Their interaction was familiar, him enthralled by her charm. It made me smile.
More than anything, it surprised me to realize that I really enjoyed seeing her. My main thought was that she’s a strikingly beautiful girl, and we had a lot of fun together. I have often missed the fun we used to have. We did not speak, we didn’t smile or acknowledge each other. But we saw each other, we shared the same space, and it was ok.
I’m so different now. I’m no longer a raging alcoholic who doesn’t know how to express her feelings in a direct and healthy way that allows for true communication. And who knows what has changed for her in the past 3 years. I regret the way I ended our friendship, but not the fact that it’s over. Part of me wanted to talk to her and catch up. To tell her about Grama and my hard year. But part of me is terrified that she would react harshly. I’m still wary of her, her energy was overwhelming to me and our friendship turned very sour. But seeing her was really nice, and I was surprised by my ability to cope, and by the surge of positive feelings that came up.
And it was pretty perfect that it happened at the roller rink.