Saturday, March 9, 2013

shoulda coulda woulda

I moved out to California with my best friend. Less than a month later, I met the man I'm going to marry this May. Had the tables been turned, I would have wanted to hang myself. We were new to an unfamiliar city full of unfamiliar faces. It was her first time living more than a few hours away from her close-knit family and our close-knit group of friends. She grew up in the folds of a big Italian clan; they moved her in about 5 doors down the hall from me in the freshman dorms. We spent the next 5 years eating, sleeping, shopping, breathing together. We had each other and 4 other forces of life - all sources of strength, laughter and comfort. We left all that behind and moved out here with nothing but our friendship, just enough naivete to throw caution to the wind, 2 ratty blankets and one pillow. And then I met B.

B always loved her and still does. Everyone loves her. He also understood how important she was (and is) to me and he knew that to make me happy he had to try to make her happy too. He enjoyed her company and was content to get to know her while he got to know me. He cooked for us and brought us on weekend drives around the Bay Area to discover our new home. I wonder how many of those drives she spent wanting to go back to her old home.

I'd imagine she felt a sense of loss when I met him, but I can't say for sure what she felt because she's never spoken of the unfortunate timing. She's never uttered a word about how lonely she was. She never cried in front of me about it; she was chipper at best and quiet at worst. Sometimes she was really quiet for days on end and her face would get a little stiff like she wanted to slap me. I should have given her the chance to cry, to tell me it sucked. I failed her in those moments, I know that now. I was blinded by a childish need for her to be happy for me - I remember thinking that I had spent "forever" watching everyone else fall in love. So dramatic. I was 23. I hadn't spent forever doing anything. I remember thinking it was finally my turn to fall head over heels and have the world rejoice in my good fortune. I was young and self absorbed enough to believe I was entitled to support even if that translated to a lack of compassion for what she was experiencing. It's amazing how easy it is to justify being selfish when we're young.  

She met someone in the 2nd year we were here. He was nice to her and offered companionship, but he was never the one. Her heart was too kind to see that, but her head never quite trusted him or her future with him and that made her anxious at times. He wasn't social and she is and that made me anxious for her. I started missing her soon after they met but I didn't think I had any place to complain about that. She supported me in the most unfortunate circumstances when I met my salty, wild, thirty-something stranger, I thought the least I could do was support her choice to be with this guy. I still wonder if I should have pushed more for them to come out to dinner with our friends or join us at happy hour. Maybe I spent too much time trying to learn to accept her choices and not enough time fighting for my friend.

I was relieved when she left him. I know that sounds terrible, but it's the truth. Everyone around her knows she deserves the world and he wasn't giving it to her. He didn't make her eyes sparkle. I was so scared she was going to marry him and never realize exactly how happy she deserved to be. He should have given her whatever she wanted and did whatever was needed to make her happy. She's that special. He wasn't smart enough to see he had hit the jackpot, but at least he was smart enough to realize he wasn't right for her.

When it ended with him, she didn't feel as if she had much to stay for. She started planning her exit almost immediately. I was hurt by how easy it was for her to pick up and go, but I understood why she was doing it  - I'm a bit of a runner myself.  I'll always wonder if I should have made it harder to leave, if I could have made it harder to leave with different choices along the way. I wasn't compassionate enough to what she must have been going through when I met B. I didn't fight for her when I saw her folding into her relationship with that jerkoff who wouldn't even give her a puppy. I didn't tell her how badly I wanted her to stay when she told me she was moving back to Boston.

She'll always be my best friend, even with all the should haves, could haves and would haves. I just hope she knows how much we both love her. Since she left, B and I both look back and wish we could have done something to make her stay. He sees how much I still miss her almost every day. I think he feels as if he took me from her. Maybe he did, in a way. Afterall, she was the first one to "give me away." My Dad will do so in May, but she was the first.