rule number one: the update

23 December 2002

Editor's Note: The following essay is a follow-up to "Rule Number One". You may want to read that first, lest ye be mightily confused.

Aaaaand speaking of drama, I talked to my "best friend" the other day. I will warn you: what follows is a mostly incoherent, rambling pity party. I will totally understand if you don't want to read it. That said, click at your own risk.

You may recall (or perhaps not; I am not knowing these things) the basic story: we were college roommates, I fell for her like an entire New York brownstone of bricks, it went unrequited for something ridiculous like eight years, she was too Catholic to come to my committment ceremony this fall, blah blah blah. Really, this is a story that could be told by any dyke fool enough to fall for a self-centered, attention-seeking straight girl, and to pine after said girl for lo these many years. I did come to my senses about four years ago and got over her the best I could. And when Cyn and I found each other, all other women were forgotten anyway. So that was all right.

Until, of course, I asked Jen to attend my committment ceremony back in September. She hemmed and hawed and gave a bunch of excuses -- "I'm still in Mississippi, I can't afford it, I'm teaching school that semester, I have nobody to watch the kid" -- but what it came down to was she didn't want to try to be there, so she didn't.

Shortly after I posted the original entry, I got a mass e-mail from Jen announcing that she was... engaged! And moving to Kansas! Aha. I didn't know she was even dating anyone, but what do I know. I sent the obligatory, "Congratulations, gimme details about the guy" e-mail, which went unanswered, as have almost all of my e-mails to her this past year. I figured that was the last I would hear about it.

Well, what do y'all suppose I got in the mail the other day?

A wedding invitation.

Yes, yes indeed. A wedding invitation. From a woman who boycotted my wedding out of her apparently too-holy-to-be-denied morals. A wedding invitation for early January, in a town which is just about a five hour drive from Denver, maybe five and a half if you stop to take pictures and buy lottery tickets at every little rest stop along I-70.

And I'll be damned, there was a phone number.

So I called her up and holy shit, I actually got her on the phone. We did the little small talk thing for a while; I went digging for pertinent information, such as, "Who the hell is this guy?" and "Why the hell are you in Kansas?". It turns out Jen met this fabulous, wonderful, talented gentleman... on the Internet!

(Note: I am not opposed to Internet relationships, on principle. Cyn and I met on the Internet -- on a MUD-type talker, no less. I am generally opposed to meeting on singles' sites, which is where Jen and her future whatever met, because you just never know who's a psycho and who isn't. Carry on.)

Ahh yes, the Internet! Well, all right then. And when did they meet on the Internet? Why, March! 2002! And they met in real life in early June! And they visited three or four times back and forth? And she went up to Kansas to see him in July! And he proposed and she said yes and she moved to Kansas in August (with her five-year-old SON) and she's living with his PARENTS and they bought a house which they're decorating right now but won't move in together until after the wedding and SQUEEEEE!!!

Oh, fabulous.

Now, I have never been one to judge Jen's relationships, but let me state that she has a history of dating, shall we say, men of questionable character. Her two big serious relationships ended badly: one man was in and out of jail and then disappeared, and the father of her child went to jail for four years for attempted manslaughter. So I am somewhat concerned about this big ball of wonderfulness she's swooning over. I would probably be skeptical even if she hadn't met him only four fucking months before they got engaged and she moved out to Bumfuck, KS, to be with him.

Nevertheless, this is not really what bothers me.

What bothers me is I had to hear about this in a mass e-mail. What bothers me is her repeatedly ignoring the six or seven e-mails I've sent since the beginning of the year. What bothers me is that she can't come to my wedding to a woman I've known for seven years and have dated for three-and-a-half, but she has the brass balls to send me an invitation to her wedding to some online guy she's known for all of nine months -- and actually expects me to show up. What bothers me is she still insists on calling me her "best friend", but she hasn't acted like a friend for years. What bothers me is the one time in recent memory I really needed her to be there for me, she just... couldn't be bothered.

What really bothers me is she let me believe she was down South this entire time, when in fact she was a mere five hour drive from Denver and still didn't show up. What really fucking bothers me is one of her two bridesmaids is a friend from work back home, and the other is the fiancee of one of the groomsmen. Follow that? Some chick she's known for a whole four months is in her wedding, and she never even bothered to ask her "best friend" of twelve years to be involved.

I'm trying hard to act like I don't care, but I'm so full of shit. I'm in the state of mind right now that people are in when they get drunk and smash things, or maybe get drunk and call up an ex at three in the morning screaming things. If I hadn't spent eight years losing sleep, energy, dignity, money and an ocean of tears over this woman, I might just not care. But I can't not care. Unfortunately, I still love her. I'm not in love with her, but I can no more stop loving her than I can stop breathing. God, that pisses me off!

I gave her everything. I mean that. Everything. Everything that was good about me, she brought out. I loved her hard, fast, strong, for a long damn time. I gave her more unconditional love than she ever had from anyone else except her family; she even told me that on more than one occasion. I used to think that if I didn't love her, I didn't know how to love anyone. I learned what it is to love someone from being with her.

Let me tell you about that, friends. Let me tell you what it is to love someone unconditionally.

I learned what unconditional love feels like, and more importantly, what it looks like: that no matter what, beyond all reason and sense, you love that woman and you keep on loving her, no matter what happens. No matter if she ignores you for a year while dating some boy; no matter if she takes her hurt and anger out in cutting words; no matter if she doesn't love you the way you secretly dream she will. You love her, and from that you learn what it is to love someone. You learn what it is to love someone more than you care for your own life. You learn that if she asks for it, you will turn the world upside down to be with her and give her whatever she needs. You swear to yourself and to her that you will take care of her child if anything ever happens to her, even though you know you'll never be a godparent because you're not Catholic.

You get your heart broken constantly. You watch her date men so beneath her, so unappreciative of the beauty of who she is, that it makes you almost physically sick to watch them together. You think of how many times you've been her shoulder when the relationships go sour, and how many nights you've wasted wishing things could be different. You run a silent tally in your mind of how many crude, insensitive things her white trash boyfriend says to her, knowing that she'll come to you later to hear the compliments and loving words she wants her boyfriend to say.

You love her even when your heart is breaking, shattering into a million little pieces because once again she's professing undying love and loyalty to some troglodyte who could never deserve her if he lived ten lifetimes. When the troglodyte steals her credit cards and runs her into debt, and then the rebound relationship leaves her pregnant and abandoned, estranged from her parents, you take her into your arms and your home, and you hold her while she cries, and you tell her that she is never alone while you're alive. And you listen to your fucking heart break for the thousandth time since the first day you laid eyes on her and felt the first stirrings of a love that changed your life forever.

I will not go to her wedding. Even if I could stand seeing her with yet another redneck boyfriend, even if I had 200 bucks to spend to come see her, I wouldn't do that to myself. My insides are one seething, boiling mass of resentment, anger, love-gone-sour, and fucking pain right now. It would do neither of us any good. I'll call her and tell her I'm not coming, and I might even give her a couple of real reasons as to why.

But one day I'll write her a letter and give her all the reasons, and she'll get to see what she always denied: she once had the love she's always craved, and she tossed it out like it was trash.

In the meantime, I will go to bed and spoon up behind my sleeping wife, and thank whatever's out there that I am no longer trapped by my formerly unconditional love.