Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Blues

I had a temp job last week (and today) at a nice little wine company in White Plains. The pay was crap but the people were nice, and at least I have a little something in my checking account.

I suffered through the flu last Thursday. It's lingering still. I was hardly able to keep food down on Sunday. This was especially awful since Sunday was Galpal's annual Christmas party, which I've been invited to every year for the last five or six years, but virtually never get to go because I'm out of town. This year I was planning to go - not only am I in town, but I have a date, and a car - but I got sick.

This upset me even more because I haven't seen Galpal in a year. An entire goddamn year. We hardly even talk anymore. I leave her voicemails, sometimes she leaves me one in return after I've left 2 or 3. I call her up sometimes and sing to her answering machine, just hoping it will make her smile. I know she's busy and gets stressed. She's in a Broadway show right now, understudying two leads. It's rough.

The truth is though, which I've been unwilling to acknowledge for a long time, is that galpal has been pretty much blowing me off for months, pleading her schedule.

I know her schedule. She knows mine. We could find the time for each other if we made it a priority, but I'm always afraid that if I push her to spend time with me, I'll just annoy her. I try to give her space.

Oh shit. Where have I heard this before?

I wish she'd make the time to just talk on the phone with me for a while. I think the reason I was so nauseous on Sunday was because I'd been trying to connect with her for days, regarding driving directions to her place (I've never been there by car) and parking suggestions, and she took so long getting back to me that I assumed she wasn't going to call at all. I was uber-stressed because I knew that G wasn't really up for going to a party, he was driving me to this one because he knew I wanted to see my friend. So, I wanted to at least get him decent directions and parking info, to make this less painful for him. God, the pressure, just trying to go to a stupid fucking party! No wonder I was nauseous all day.

At about 4, I bit the bullet, and called Galpal. I knew she was in the middle of a matinee, so I had to leave her another voicemail. I humbly apologized for canceling out of the party, and explained that I'd had the flu, and I was still sick and just couldn't go anywhere.

She called me back about 40 minutes later. She could tell from my voice when I answered the phone that I was sick. "Oh, Ouiser, you don't sound very good!" Apparently she hadn't listened to her voicemail. She was putting on makeup while she was talking to me. She was still at the show. I expressed my disgust at my ill health, and said it was good to just hear her voice.

"So, are you coming?" she asked.

I explained that I had left her a voicemail bowing out. I explained that I'd been feverish and fighting off the flu for several days. I mentioned that her parties are always great, and I was sure this one would be too, and I was sure she'd have a great time that night.

I was hoping to secure a phone date. "Isn't Monday your dark night?" I asked.

"yeah..." She said.

"Well, maybe I'll call you then. We need to have a good long talk and catch up!"

"Well, Monday night is the only night my husband and I have to do things, and we have A LOT of stuff to do, Christmas is coming."

I didn't know what to make of that response. "Well, are you going to be in Massachusetts with your parents, or in New Jersey with your in-laws on Christmas? Or will you be home?"

"I have ONE DAY to spend in Massachusetts with my family," she grumped.

"That's great! Maybe I could call you then? Just for a few minutes?"

"Ouise, it's gonna be really busy."

She's BLOCKING ME, I realized, my stomach churning. I didn't know what to say. Something froze inside me.

"Well," I finally said, "I'll keep trying."

She laughed. "Good, Weez. Thanks hon."

We hung up. I suddenly had a craving for ice cream. I satisfied it with yogurt.

I couldn't fall asleep that night. I cried into my pillow. Finally I went back to the living room, and called Lisa.

"Ouiser, sometimes people just grow apart," Lisa says, ever the sage.

"Well, this wasn't supposed to happen!" I sobbed. "Galpal and I have been through HELL together! When her old boyfriend left for LA! When she was dating that asshole from that other show! When she was miserable during her first year of marriage, because she and her hubby were a country apart! God, Galpal was there for me throughout the entirety of my marriage AND my divorce! I thought..." I blew my nose. "I thought this was special. Not just a friendship of convenience, like my other New York friendships were. I thought Galpal and I were really real friends."

Lisa just listened, and I raged on as quietly as I could, sobbing into my kleenex, while G snored behind the bedroom door. Together Lisa and I reviewed the demise of my friendships with Glamgirl and Wildgirl, my alienation from my church crowd, and Eric's sudden and abrupt departure from my life. All those cases were understandable. There were solid reasons why all those friendships had ended, and as much as it hurt, I've accepted them, and for the most part, let them go. But not Galpal. I couldn't let this one go so easily.

"Ten years of my life, Lisa, completely gone. I have no real friends left in my life who lived through my twenties with me. All those people I spent all that time with in the city - gone! Nobody remembers who I used to be. Who I was, when I was an opera singer, when I was a clubgirl. When I was..." When I was somebody, I thought. When I was exciting. Popular. Young. When I had the world by the balls. When it wasn't too late. When I still had dreams.

"Send Galpal a note," Lisa suggested. "Apologize again for missing the party, and stress how badly you really want to spend some time with her."

Subtext: Take the moral high ground. Lisa is great at that. I'm usually great at it too, but when I'm angry, like I was last night, I suck at it. I wasn't ready to hear that. I gritted my teeth, said nothing, and cried some more.

"I'm lonely, Lisa."

"Well," she said, "I know how that feels."

And she does. We have that in common. We both get very lonely, and ground down by depression. Lisa, however, unlike me, clams up and won't talk about it. Last night though, for the first time I can recall, she did talk about it with me, about being depressed. How immobilizing it can be. "Thank God for my husband," she said. "I don't know what I'd do without him."

We were on the phone until 2:30. Lisa took my mind off things by telling me about her pregnancy. She's seven months along, and things are going really well. She's a year older than me, and this is her first kid, so I was very encouraged to hear her stories. I needed that. Before we got off the phone, I thanked her for being there for me, again. She's my 2AM friend. At least, until she has the baby.

I crawled back into bed next to G. He rolled over and dropped an arm over me, this robotic appendage holding me a little too tightly. He made worried groaning sounds, and gently shook me, like a kid shaking a jar with a bug in it, worried that it might be dead. "It's ok, baby," I whispered.

he groaned again. Another shake.

"I'm ok, baby." I kissed him on the forehead. I could feel the worry wrinkles relaxing under my lips as I whispered comforting things. G eventually rolled back over and resumed his deep sleep. I followed soon after.

This morning, I couldn't concentrate on my work. I am devastated at the prospect of losing this close friendship with Galpal. I love her. I wanted her to be my maid of honor, but I am sure now that she will never be able to do such a job for me. She's busy.

Just like with Glamgirl, I've been making excuses for her for so long, defending her to people who ask me "what the hell kind of friend never calls you unless she just happens to be driving through your neighborhood? Or wants you to see her show?" I say, without a trace of bitterness, just honest, simple awareness, that's how it is, being friends with an actor. They don't see their own spouses very often, never mind friends. I can't expect her to make me a priority.

I can't expect to mean anything to her. Certainly nothing close to what she means to me.

G arrived home from work tonight to find me at the computer, trying to write this blog entry. He took me for a veggie burger at a local place where I know the waitress by first name, and she knows exactly what I'm going to order and how I like it. It made me feel at home. It made me feel like part of a community. Part of... something. Something friendly.

When we arrived home, we opened the mail. There was Galpal's annual homemade Christmas card, with pictures of her and her husband in scuba gear, their cats and dog. Inside is a pre-printed generic holiday letter detailing their various trips during the past year. The only thing handwritten is "Dear Ouiser and G" and "Happy Chrismakuh" or some such cutesy multi-holiday greeting.

I mailed my Holiday card to Mr. and Mrs. Galpal a few days ago. I handwrote how much I'd missed visiting them and that we needed to get together soon.

I wonder if I'll ever really talk to her again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have no idea how much it will help, but meditate on this for 30 seconds.

Hang in there sweetie.