A little backstory:
Ava was my all-time best friend in high school. We were inseparable. We were on the newspaper staff together; we bought Christmas trees together; we got caught shoplifting together. My friendship with her was my first romantic friendship – you know, the kind of friendship that’s so close that you share a bed and cuddle, you hurt when the other person hurts, you learn what it’s like to really love someone with your whole heart and soul. The kind of friendship that prepares you for the kind of relationship you’ll eventually have with a partner, when you’ll learn to love with your whole heart, soul, and body as well.
After high school, Ava and I grew apart. I think we’d always had different personalities, and going our separate ways after graduation enhanced them. She joined a sorority and became even more of a socialite, taking after her beautiful, strong-willed mother. I hunkered down with my reading and writing, confirmed my guess that I valued closeness and connection more than the party atmosphere college offers, and meanwhile explored the wilder side of myself by participating in Rocky Horror on weekends. But history and that deep-rooted love kept us connected; we wrote real letters and sent care packages, and saw each other when we were both in our hometown.
By the time I was getting married the first time, I didn’t have much regular interaction with Ava, but I remember the moment that I was trying to decide which of my eight (!!!) bridesmaids should be my maid of honor, and in the end I realized I couldn’t imagine it being anyone but her.*
I get married; I get un-married. Ava and I meet for coffee on Thanksgiving morning in the midst of it all, and she expresses her shock and lack of understanding. I try to explain everything as best I can. A few months later, she comes over for breakfast one morning while visiting another friend in Seattle, and shortly after sends me a care package with a nice letter saying she’s never seen me so happy [as I am with Doug]. Overall, we are back to that place of grown-apart like we were in college. Then Ava’s mom gets terminal cancer. I attend the funeral, which I heard about through mutual friends. Ava is moving from LA to Oregon with her fiancé, and I tell her I want us to keep in touch by writing real letters. She seems to love the idea, but in practice, it kind of falls through.
End of backstory.
*Actually, I had two maids of honor because my ex wanted two best men. But you get the idea.
I knew Ava was getting married, and I figured I wasn’t going to be involved. Which was fine; I’m not planning on involving her in the wedding I’m currently planning either. But then I started thinking I wasn’t going to be invited to her wedding either. Facebook had told me it was going to be a destination wedding, so I just thought fine, maybe it’s a small private thing. And not being invited would save me feeling obligated to travel, to plan another trip around another wedding.
Then, a few months ago, she called me, out of the blue, in what she called “crisis-mode.” She had gone to a work conference, had spent the weekend flirting with some stranger, and had, at the end of the last night, kissed him. She didn’t know what this meant for her current relationship, didn’t know whether or not to tell her fiancé, didn’t know if this was a sign of things to come – was she really the type of person who couldn’t be monogamous (because, she says, of how much she loves flirting and the thrill of the chase and the first kiss)? In short, did she make an honest, one-time mistake, or was she really a cheating piece-of-shit?
Oh, and she emphasized, she was calling me, in this panic, in the middle of the workday, because I was the only one she could talk to about this.
Because I am, most likely, the only other cheating piece-of-shit she knows.
“So she’s using you,” another high school friend surmised when I told her about this conversation, and about the fact that I presumed I wasn’t invited to the wedding. I laughed it off.
But the wedding was last weekend. While I was trying on dresses, Ava was getting married. And I wasn’t there, but other friends were, their photos and congratulations popping up in my facebook news feed. And suddenly, this thing that had not been bothering me for the past year, started to bother me. A lot.
And then, all these pieces seemed to fit into place.
Why is it that it’s okay to call me when – and only when – she finds herself dealing with this crisis, doubting and questioning her decision to enter into something permanent, wanting my advice, my estimation as to whether she was about to make the same mistakes I made, as to whether she was similarly flawed… and then to not only not invite me to the wedding, but to offer no apology or explanation or even a simple admission of the fact that she wasn’t inviting me to the wedding?
What could possibly, simultaneously, get me on to the fidelity crisis hotline list and off of the wedding guest list?
Maybe the fact that I failed at marriage?
Maybe the idea that my being present at her holy matrimony would somehow make it less holy? After all, my wedding was a show and my marriage was a joke. I mean, would you invite Kim Kardasian to your wedding? I wouldn’t.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? That a shallow, self-centered person might make this kind of rationalization?
I’ve talked to several friends about this, and my therapist, and my mom. All of them have tried to provide alternate reasons why I didn’t get an invite – the wedding was small; she didn’t want me to have to make the trip; she would feel guilty having me there because I know her secret…
But I have formulated my theory on why things happened the way they did, and no one is going to change my mind: I was not invited to Ava’s wedding because Ava thought it would make her look bad to have me, a young divorcée with a huge marriage mistake in her past, at her wedding.
In a way, it’s easier for me to stick with this assumption. Because I may have a lot of judgments about myself on this front, but they are not so strong that I can’t ultimately arrive at “fuck that bitch” and feel justified in saying so. And even if her exact reasoning was different, the way she handled it (as in, not at all) allows me to draw the same conclusion. It allows me to give up on a friendship that was quite possibly over ten years ago, but that I, with my overactive sense of loyalty and connection, was trying to keep afloat. I saw a quote recently that said something along the lines of, “When you’re making more deposits into a friendship than you are getting withdrawals, it’s time to close the account,” and I feel like that’s appropriate here.
It sucks, though.
It sucks to be this angry and sad and kind of offended when I want to not care at all. It sucks to feel, once again, like I fucked things up for myself forever on some level with a decision I made - ultimately the right one, just done the wrong way – years ago. It sucks to be reminded that while I cannot go back and change the things I’m not proud of in my past, those things have changed me, and my life, forever.