On Saturday, I had brunch with an old friend. We were best friends, or at least very good friends, and roommates throughout college. A little over two years ago, she broke up with me. The exact circumstances of this breakup are still unclear, but in retrospect I gather that I was pretty much an insufferable asshole.
One of the last conversations I had with her before she dissolved the friendship in the beginning of 2007 was about how I was e-mailing with Cautionary Lover. I told her I had asked him if he told his wife about our correspondence, and he said he hadn’t because there was nothing to tell. When I told my old friend this, she nodded once, paused in thought, her brow wrinkled, and then nodded again. “Okay,” she had said, with a hint of wary.
When she apologized for ditching me, which she did immediately after we greeted each other with a hug, I told her that I don’t really blame her for it, and that the truly amazing thing is when people do want to be my friend even when I fuck up monumentally.
We caught up on each other’s lives over eggs. A lot has changed in two years. She’s married. I’m separated. Life isn’t quite what we thought it would be. In some ways, it’s better. In other ways, it’s worse. She took my sad story in stride: the affair, the separation, the antidepressants.
We’ve both changed a lot, for the better.
We had planned on going to the farmer’s market after brunch to browse the fresh veggies, but on the way she confessed to me that she heard through her sister’s friend’s dog’s uncle’s brother’s cousin that I’d had an affair. And her source had a pretty damn good guess on who it was with.
She also told me that, largely, this blog was to blame. I am my own slanderer. And Cautionary Lover’s slanderer as well.
After she told me this, right there, in her car, I had a full-blown anxiety attack. Nausea overcame me, my mouth completely dried up, and my heart began to race. We stopped off to get me some water, since the 105-degree heat obviously wasn’t helping matters, and, in-between taking deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth, I asked her to take me home.
Once there, I took some Pepto, which I drink straight from the bottle nowadays, and asked her to lie down on my bed with me. I put my head on her chest, and, shaking, I began to cry.
“Everyone’s going to find out,” I said. “Not only do I make horrible decisions (a word that I’ve typed so much lately that I was convinced I was spelling wrong just now), I also have to go and write about them.”
“You have a right to write about your life,” she reminded me.
“Yes,” I replied, “but at what cost?”
She nodded and remained silent, stroking my hair until I stopped crying and we found things to laugh about again.