I woke up with a jolt, the way you do when you just know that you fell back asleep for longer than you meant to. I originally set my alarm for eight, but when I woke up with a hangover and no text messages, I gladly accepted the extra time to sleep before meeting up with my friends.
Next thing I knew, it was noon and I was jolting awake, still hungover. Noticing the time, my first thought was of meeting my friends. I opened the group chat to see only one text from about twenty minutes after I fell back asleep. I learned that instead of brunch, they were heading to the Safari Park.
I replied to the thread asking questions. Maybe it wasn’t too late to meet them!
An hour later, still no response.
With my head in a vice and a knife through my heart, I fell back asleep, grateful for the release from pain and shame.
T was in town from San Francisco. She was one of my closest friends up there. We worked in the same office and talked almost every day. I missed her when I moved back to San Diego. I was excited to see her for the first time since I left the Bey over a year ago.
But T wasn’t here to see me. She was here because San Diego was the perfect destination for her boyfriend’s 30th birthday, which happen to fall on Halloween weekend. She had rented an Airbnb downtown for her and the other out-of-town guests.
Justin and I park a few blocks away from T’s rented apartment. We are dressed like Cheech and Britney Spears, respectfully. (Baby One More Time, Britney. The OG.)
T’s friend opened the door and we screamed in delight to see each other. It had been over two years since we all traveled to Cuba together. She’s dressed as a vixen vampire: shift dress with cleavage, tights with rips. Her makeup does not disappoint to complete the look with blackened eyes and lots of fake blood.
T brings everyone together for a picture. Then announces that she’s calling an Uber to the restaurant.
While everyone prepared for pickup, T turned to me and Justin and said, “I’m calling an XL. They can only fit the six of us, so you guys need to drive yourselves.”
“No one should drive. Let’s just call two cars and split up four and four.” said Justin.
“I already ordered it. Sorry,” said T, not conceding.
“Ok, well, I’m going with you guys!” T’s friend chimes in as she links arms with me and Justin. I cannot tell if she is defying T on purpose or just drunk and excited to see us. Either way, it is a hilarious act against the queen.
At dinner, I am seated across from T.
I remember having fun and being happy to see my friends. I also remember gesturing wildly with my hands and knocking my margarita off the table. The glass shattered and caused a brief scene, during which I was embarrassed and apologetic.
The waiter brought me a fresh drink. I apologized again and thanked him. I asked his name and referred to him by name for the remainder of the meal.
After dinner, we went to a small club. It was not yet ten o’clock, so we were the only people on the dancefloor. T and I danced on the platform. Justin threw dollar bills at us. Three songs later, the private bar felt more like a dead bar, so we left.
Next came a rooftop club with a proper DJ and a popping dance floor.
I don’t know how long we stayed. A few hours maybe? I remember trying to request Britney Spears. But the DJ rolled his eyes.
“I’ll see you tomorrow!” I said as I squeezed T goodnight.
Justin and I drove home and dove into bed.
I woke up from my second nap of the day to remember my misery— headache and heartbreak. Still no messages from T.
I texted again. “Hope you guys had fun at the Safari Park! Let me know what you’re up to after. I’ll come meet up!”
While I waited for a response, I interrogated Justin. “What happened last night?! What is she so mad about?”
Nothing came to mind. Justin, my witness was with me the entire night. Although, he did leave for about five minutes to take a phone call outside. That’s when my enthusiastic hand gestures launched my margarita glass from the dinner table.
“But when I came back, everything was fine. If T was mad, she didn’t let it show,” he said.
I can feel my heart pumping. My head throbs as if T wants me to not only be ostracized but tortured too for whatever it is that I’ve done.
It was starting to get dark when my phone finally lit up with a text from T. “Really tired from the day. Heading back to the Airbnb now. Have a super early flight back to SF tomorrow.”
For a moment, my headache lifted, replaced by the pain of a broken heart. Justin helped me to craft a calm text back. I told T that I loved her and our friendship. I told her that I would never intentionally upset her. I said, “Please tell me what I did so I can make it right.”
She replied the next day, Monday morning. She said my actions had been disrespectful and inexcusable.
“Please!” I replied, “Please tell me what I did.”
After four days, I stopped waiting for a response.
In December, a week before my birthday, I got an email from T.
Subject: Hello friend!
I looked around my empty bedroom as if the email was meant for someone else. Are we friends again? I read that email over and over, looking for something that was not there: friendship.
T starts by patronizing me. Though, she probably thought she was being sincere when she wrote,
I’ve appreciated our friendship over the years. You’ve always been a sassy and wild spirit and you often push me out of my comfort zone. I admire you for that.
Then she flips the script,
However, I did reconsider our friendship after San Diego. What happened at the restaurant was inappropriate, crass and embarrassing. I didn’t agree with your actions and it makes me feel our values aren’t aligned.
So now I know it’s something that happened at the restaurant!
T’s email continues,
I understand why you were upset the next day, but I felt you not coming to the zoo was the best possible outcome. I could not put myself and the rest of the group through another night like that.
She includes a sentence recommending that we take some time apart. Then,
I hope you and Justin have a great holiday season.
Now, I am embarrassed for T because her subject line is clickbait and the actual email is vapid. Honey, let me show you how it’s done.
I line up my first shot and shoot. I write,
Since your email questioned my values, let me start by clearing that up for you: one thing I value most in this world is open and clear communication.
Unfortunately, you have proven yourself incapable of communicating. You still have not explained what I did to upset you! Even after I specifically asked you what I did. Even after you took five weeks to think about what you wanted to write. You still cannot articulate exactly what upset you and why. Instead, you have repeatedly insulted my character and condescendingly canceled me from your life.
Then, I wound up and threw a punch.
You sent me a self-righteous racket of an email containing the same ambiguous accusation you texted over a month ago. Your email offered nothing new. It was redundant, uninformative, unapologetic, and a waste of my time to read.
Now, I’ve got her against the ropes. I change my tone to deliver the final blow.
Perhaps whatever happened at the restaurant was not my finest moment. But everyone makes mistakes. Even you. The way you handled this situation is one.
Enjoy your comfort zone.