Monday, September 26, 2005

Les Amis, Qui Sont-Ils?

Sometimes people can surprise you. Sometimes they don't.

I can't tell which is the case with my friend Dee.

Dee and I lost touch after the "shut up" incident. I heartily admit that it was my "fault" (to the extent fault can be allocated at all) – it was, in fact, a conscious decision on my part to cease communications with her, even to the point of resisting speaking to her at a mutual friend's party later. If we are to be honest about it, though, we had been drifting apart well before the precipitating event. I was no longer a part of her life; my segue out of her life was like flipping a light switch to "off" after the circuit has already been tripped. The only difference is that I decided to sever our ties more out of malice; prior to that, we were in the natural and time-honored process of drifting apart.

The more I reflected on it, the more I realized that, more often than not, she was more of an aggravation than a friend; that I was more annoyed by her company than I was happy for it; that I would be better served meeting new friends or concentrating on other friendships than in cultivating this one. The smirk, the sneer, the condescending undertones, the air of superiority – I decided I no longer cared to endure that anymore. So I bailed.

I won't say that the decision to sever a friendship is easy. No matter what the circumstances, it's never easy. And I won't say that I was deliriously happy deleting Dee off of my cell phone. But in the end, my mind won out over my heart and I convinced myself that I was better off without her in my life. It was all good.

From time to time, I did still think about Dee. I thought about whether she thinks about me and my failure to call her. I wondered whether she even notices that I've voluntarily absented myself from her life.

And I couldn't help reaching the conclusion that if she's noticed my absence at all, she either genuinely didn't care, or she convinced herself that she didn't. I imagined conversations she had with our mutual friends, wherein my name would be mentioned and she would just dismissively say, "Dennis!? Yeah, I dunno, he stopped calling. I think he's upset with me, but whatever. If he doesn't call, he doesn't call. Whatever."

But sometimes people still surprise me, even though I've led myself to believe all these years that I've managed to insulate myself from the vagaries of interpersonal relationships.

Dee continues to include me in group emails to her friends, including announcements about an excellent jury verdict her firm obtained, and another in which she is profiled in the Washington Post. (You didn't actually think I'd provide a link to the actual story about her, did you?) While I found the tidbits interesting, my cynical side continued to wonder why she was sharing this information with me, a person with whom she had lost touch. In point of fact, the email announcing the successful jury verdict assumed that we all knew about the trial, because (presumably) she had been telling anyone who would listen about how much of her life it was taking up for the weeks preceding it. I hadn't even heard that she was going to a jury.

Most recently, though, I received an email from her that defied all my expectations of her and our erstwhile relationship. Recognizing one of my life mottos (which I'm sure I'll share with you readers later), she sent me an e-postcard of a popular cartoon character uttering my mantra with a brief message: "I couldn’t resist."

Also on the e-card was a note to the effect that, "I think you hate me."

The cynical side of me says that she doesn't really care whether I do or not. (For the record, I don't hate her: I've simply decided that, on balance, I prefer to be without her company than with.) It tells me that she's just making a random comment intended to be snarky and show me just how little she cares about our dissolved relationship.

And the sappier, more sentimental side of me says that this is her way of reaching out to make some attempt to salvage what we once had, weak as that effort may be.

I'll probably send her an email tomorrow telling her I don't hate her.


anne said...

If she sent you that e-mail with the sole purpose of being snarky, that'd be one major waste of time on her part, though, wouldn't it? She might just want to clear the air.

Steve said...

Take the high road and send her an e-mail. She obviously thought of you, whether it was 'snarky' (I LOVE that word), or not, she may be trying to guage where your head is right now, too.

Matthew said...

Dee and I are two completely different people (obviously), so I'm reticent to attach my own thoughts to her.

That having been said, I can firmly say that I don't waste time, thought and emotion on someone unless I actually do care about them, or at least what they think of me.

So, Dee is probably on the up & up. She may truly miss you. Or she may simply be interested in why you stopped being her friend. But whatever the case, she obviously thinks enough of you - somehow, someway - to want to know if you hate her.

If she didn't give a shit about you, I doubt she'd care one way or the other.

Just my two cents. Hope it goes ok, if you decide to contact her.

MoDigli said...

Loved reading that post. Loved the way you wrote it. As for Dee, I think she was thinking of what must have happened. The questions were definitely in her mind as to "where did Dennis go?" ... She came across something, perhaps by accident, that reminded her so much of you that she had to send it. She probably thought it would soften you to see her make the connection, then she made the weak attempt to coyly inquire "what happened?" ...

It's tough to decide what to do with a failing friendship. All the best in whatever you decide to do! :)

bullie76 said...

I'm with anne. She obviously cares about you (or your opinion of her). If she didn't care that you dropped her, she would just drop you. Say hello or at least send a little snark back at her. :) Jeez, litigators can be so quirky and self-absorbed (from my observations, fwiw). I've always been for keeping relationships on good terms, but sometimes good terms include not spending much time at all with said person.

duane said...

She probably does care, but since she knows you, it is no doubt that she knows how you would react to a full fledged "let's be friends" talk. Perhaps she is waiting for you to make the next move, but it is also possible that there is a reason that you two started to drift apart in the first place... sometimes that stuff just happens, and it sounds like your "falling out" was just a catalyst for something that seemed inevitable.

Or perhaps she is secretly in love with you and resents you for being gay. Nah, that probably isn't it. It is probably the first thing.

Sub Girl said...

i agree with steve, she probably just wants to know where things stand. but she doesn't sound like a very good friend since she probably knew she pissed you off yet wasn't making up for it immediately!