Susan and I had spent the day in Julian at the Apple Festival. I know, it's dorky but that's the joy of having a friend who lets you be a dork, you get to go to things like the Apple Festival. Anyway, we had had a goofy dorky day looking at apple crafts, shopping in apple themed stores and eating everything apple based you could imagine. We got back to their place around 9 or so and I was just going to crash there for the evening. When we got there I knew I was in for a rough ride. Chad and a couple of his buddies were in the living room and had been drinking, for awhile. One of the guys was a friend of his that I could not stand. I don't remember exactly why, I think it was because he was an uneducated jerk who treated his wife like a second class citizen. He couldn't stand me either, I have no idea why but if I had to guess I would say it was because I was a bitch who thought I was better than he was. Just a guess. And one of the guys was someone I had never met. This became really important to me later.
I said I knew I was in for a rough ride, but really I had no idea. What I knew is that I would probably be arguing with Chad's friend, as usual. What I didn't know is that I had walked into the middle of a conversation I had apparently been having with Chad in his head for awhile. You know what I am talking about, we all do it. You are mad at someone, or need to talk to someone about something important and you start the conversation in your head. You practice what you are going to say, what they will say, what you will respond, on and on. We all do it to a certain extent, some of us more than others. So what I realized later is that Chad had already started this conversation with me, I just wasn't there when he did. So now he was a little drunk and way ahead of me on the fight that was about to happen...
So the five of us are sitting around the living room, I have no idea where Erika was, maybe out of town maybe in bed early, I have wondered for years if the night would have turned out differently had she been there. So anyway it was Chad, his two friends, Susan and I talking about what Susan and I did that day, what they had done, the usual stuff. And then Chad starts in on me about how little I think of him. What? I was totally in shock. He didn't let up at all, kept at me telling me things I had said. Now, I was completely confused, I was thinking he meant earlier in the evening, in the conversation we were having right then. And I kept denying saying anything of the sort. He said I thought he was a failure and would never amount to anything. Now this really threw me. I had never said or thought that. Chad is one of those people that has a ton of talent and a ton of ideas. I had no idea what he was going to end up doing but I knew it would be something big. So I told him I had never said such a thing and he told me I was lying. Then his friend started in, about me being a bitch and stuck up and having way too high an opinion of myself. I was livid. Not only was I being attacked by Chad but by his friend and he was letting it happen! And it was happening in front of a stranger!
This was a big deal to me. Chad was my brother. We were family. Arguing in front of Susan and his buddy was bad enough, but to air dirty laundry in front of a stranger? I couldn't believe it. And the more he kept telling me what I had said while at the same time telling me I KNEW what and when I had said it the madder I got. Finally I was in tears. I was angrier than I could remember being in a long long time and I told him that was it. I was done talking to him. If he wasn't going to fill me in on the rest of the details then I was over it. And I left. I can remember standing out on the street getting ready to go home for the evening, no way was I spending the night there, and apologizing to his new friend. I can remember telling him that he seemed like a decent guy and I was really sorry he had to witness all of that. Isn't it funny the things that stick with you?
So that was that. I stopped talking to him. I decided that it was more pain to be friends with him than it was worth. I was done. Sort of. Susan still lived with Chad and Erika and so I still heard all about what was going on in their lives. I stayed friends with Erika so I would see her here and there and talk to her on the phone as she tried to convince me to come "home". About a month after the big fight Chad told Susan why he was so mad at me. Apparently I had told Erika that she needed to figure out what she wanted to do and do it because he would never amount to anything and she couldn't rely on him. And I supposedly said it in front of Susan. Remember the unforgivable offense from the fight? Family doesn't air dirty laundry in front of strangers. Just saying what I did to Erika would be bad enough, saying it in front of Susan was unforgivable. The thing is, I never said that. I asked Susan if she remembered me saying it, since I sure as hell didn't. And she said no, and that she had told Chad that. But who was he going to believe, his wife or his roommate?
It took me about a week of puzzling to figure out what had happened. A few weeks before our big blow up Erika, Susan and I had been making dinner and talking. By us making dinner I mean Erika was making dinner and Susan and I were setting the table or possibly making a salad. Anyway, Erika was telling me that she was thinking about going back to school (can't remember what for anymore) but that Chad had been talking about (a new career that I don't remember any more) when he got out of the Navy and she wasn't sure what to do. My advice to her was this, "Go to school, do what you want. In the time I have known Chad he has had no less that 4 billion ideas for careers. He will figure out what he wants to do eventually, but you go ahead and follow your dream as well." I called Susan and said, "Hey! Do you remember me telling Erika this?" And she said, sure she had and that we all talked about it. And we figured out that either through Erika's translation in telling Chad about the conversation or Chad's interpretation of it it switched from, He has a lot of ideas to He is a fuck up. Our friendship had been derailed by a grown up version of Telephone.
Now at this point I could have called Chad and told him I had figured it out. But pride is a silly emotion and my pride would not let me make the call. He needed to call me and apologize first. And on his side he was not going to make a move until I apologized and neither of us were going to budge. The last time I saw Chad was when I went by the apartment to say goodbye to Erika and Susan before leaving for Idaho. Erika and I were both pregnant. This was a really exciting time for them, she had not carried a pregnancy this far before and it really looked promising. She told me how sad she was I was going and that she had hoped that we could have our babies in the same town and raise them together. Chad stood next to her not saying a word and I hugged her and said it would have been nice. Chad and I looked at each other without talking and walked away from each other. And that was that.
Erika and I stayed friends, though not as close, Susan and I stayed very close. So I heard about what was going on in their lives and I wish now that I had been able to get both sides of the story. Let's just say Big changes happened and it was ugly for awhile. Chad remarried. Erika remarried. Life marched on. Then Chad ended up friends with my nephew. Odd right? Musical theater in Albuquerque, it's a small world. When Christopher and I went back home for my niece's high school graduation my nephew let me know that Chad wanted to see me. Now, being home brings out my absolute worst behaviors. That's a blog or series for another day, but suffice it to say people who know me at my current home wouldn't recognize me at my birthplace home. The open forgiving me I have been working towards in my life disappears after about 3 hours in Albuquerque. I think the thin air just can't support it...yet...I'm working on it!
Anyway...I said no. Really mature right? I mean at that point it had been 15 years or so since we had seen each other. But I wasn't ready yet. I was still angry and hurt even that many years later, and I was more than a little judgmental about things that I didn't (and don't) really know the full story on. I did see Erika though. And we talked and her forgiveness and it made me rethink my stubbornness. Don't you hate it when someone else is a bigger person than you are? Now it didn't change me enough to say I would see him, but it was a crack in the stone I had walled myself off with. Then that crack started to widen through years of listening to my nephew talk about his life. Chad and his wife are friends with my nephew. And I love my nephew so anyone who is nice to him I am more inclined to think nice thoughts about.
Anyway the last part of the really long title from the first blog...Facebook. Yep, good old Facebook then came in to play. Chad took the step and sent me a friend request. I would like to say I accepted it and sent him an email and called and we worked it all out...but that's not what happened. That request sat on my page for weeks before I decided what to do. I talked to Brent, I thought about it, I stressed over it more than any sane or normal person should. And then I accepted. And gradually we have "talked" a comment here and there, looking at the photos, slowly catching up on the lost years. All of those Facebookie things.
Then today I sent him an apology. It's a few years late, but finally delivered. And he accepted it graciously and apologized for his part as well. And we are in total agreement that the biggest loss over all this is the time we can't get back. His oldest daughter and Christopher are 23 days apart. It would have been nice to see if they would have had a friendship like ours had been.
So here is the moral to this tale (you knew there would be one) if there is someone in your life you need to apologize to, if there is a misunderstanding that is threatening to spiral out of control. Take care of it now. Don't let a couple of decades pass before you do something about it. Because time marches on. And it will pass sooner than you realize. And you will regret it. And life is too short for regrets. You can't change the you you used to be...but you can listen to the you you are now. And if you are lucky, there will be a friendship worth recovering.