Or maybe just our thing
Ever since I was old enough to date, I always tried to maintain a balance between my friendships and relationships. Acutely aware that the presence of my friends — especially my closest ones — long preceeded that of the person I happened to be dating at the time — and perhaps also driven by my determination never to become dependent on a man in any way — I swore never to become one of those people who would become so immersed in the relationship that my friends were left forgotten. I had already witnessed my own friends turn against one another primarily because one was too engrossed in her relationship to care much about anything or anyone else — a tragedy more common, it appears, among women than men.
In the last three months, I’ve found myself desperately trying to balance the new life I now share with someone else, and the lifeline I’ve cleaved to for over a year with my best friend. We speak often, over the phone, because I’m bored at work and she’s bored being unemployed. And every now and then, we bring up the subject of how our outings have been reduced to the occasional dinner, the even less occasional brunch and rare movie screening:
Becca: Nancy and I were in Pavilion on Saturday and after that we went to M-Circle and —
Me: Oh! Why didn’t you call me? You two went gallivanting without me!
Becca: Because you’re not allowed to gallivant anymore.
Me: I am. I can still gallivant.
Becca: No, no, you’re not allowed to do the kind of gallivanting we do anymore. Nancy and I decided that since you’re the only one in a normal relationship, it should be left untainted by the things you used to do with us. Don’t worry; soon we’ll find ourselves normal men and live normal lives with you.
And then yesterday, while I was doing some damage at Marc by Marc Jacobs…
Becca: Hi. I called to tell you that I’m going to Jakarta tomorrow for five days, and I’ll be back on Monday. Then we’re celebrating Nancy’s birthday on Thursday, and I thought we could get her the Hammam gift certificate and all three of us can do a Hammam day!
Me: Oooohh, yay! I haven’t used the Hammam gift certificate you got me for my birthday.
Becca: Yes, I know, which is why I thought of the Hammam for Nancy as well, so that you may make full use of yours that cost me a DBKL parking ticket. When do you want to do that?
Me: Well, it just so happens I get four days away from the ball and chain next week, so it would be easier for me to get away then. But if you’d rather do another time I can work it out.
Becca: Oh! Well, no, no, then we’ll just do next weekend, since it’ll be the weekend of her birthday anyway. You want to be all fresh and well-scrubbed for when you put the shackles back on.
Me: And then we can do our Bodega breakfast over the weekend; it’s been a while since the last one.
Becca: Yes, yes. We’ll do Bodega and a Hammam day then.
Me: Oh, good! I’ve been wanting to do all that, but it’s been so difficult. I’m always being dragged off to some party or movie or birthday do.
Becca: Yes, that is, in fact, what normal relationships entail. You’ve just been devoid of one for too long. Well, OK then, at the very latest I’ll see you next Thursday. I’m about to go sunblock-shopping and exchange money. He says I don’t need to bring money but I’d rather have some on me, lest we be separated by running mobs or war. And I intend to spend the five days in flats, in case I need to run or scale a tree.
Me: You said that before you went to Bangkok last year.
Becca: Yes, well, when it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go.
Me: OK, if you must. Well, have fun and take care of yourself. Call me when you get home, or if you’re about to… go. Or if you’re… you know… hiding amongst shrubbery or somesuch.
After hanging up, I realized how different things have always been with Becca than they have with my other friends. It appears that the unfortunate circumstances of our lives over the last few years have led us to a point where, when one meets with unexpected good fortune, the other cheers her on. And we’ve somehow reached an unspoken understanding that no matter how long the intervals between our meetings are, we will always manage to catch up, come full circle and close off that interval — and eventually start that business together. Even if one of us is atop a tree.