She Ghosts Part Three

We met again on a purple hair dyeing forum. We didn’t know at first. We just had this easy rapport again. Looking back, I think I might have suspected but I didn’t know until she signed off a message with her initials.

It took me a little bit to decide to tell her I knew it was her. I hadn’t been searching for her. I hadn’t meant to run into her on a random message board after nearly six years. But here we were, exchanging snarky messages and tips about keeping purple vibrant on bleached hair. What were the odds?

We caught up over a few emails and decided to meet. I was really nervous.

It went better than expected after meeting at a local breakfast place. We ended up back at her and her boyfriend’s apartment until 6am talking about…everything, I guess. Movies, books, life. She was working as a programmer and doing well, as was he. I was working as a comic book assistant editor while my boyfriend was working in design and soon games. We had that kind of talk that feels Important even if it isn’t.

It was so easy, falling back into friendship. Like it hadn’t ever stopped. They moved closer and eventually we moved into the same building. We rode the train in to work together. She would fall asleep next to me and her head would slump onto my shoulder.

On 9/11 we were walking through Grand Central after our train and decided to take the shuttle to Times Square together. Someone said something about planes and buildings but we didn’t know what was happening. When I got to work and found out, she was my first call. She could see the towers come down from her office. She was okay.

Later, when we had managed to get home on separate trains, we all had dinner together…tasteless pizza as we tried to come to grips with such an enormous horror.

There were ups and downs. When she got engaged, she made me her maid of honor and it was months of obsessive messages about flowers, dresses, places, etc. I was happy to help but eventually it was emotionally exhausting, especially when she and her fiancee had several big fights because he was either avoiding being involved or she made major decisions without consulting him. My (now husband) and I had to talk both them of down from huge meltdowns more than once.

The actual wedding was nice but my outfit was…questionable. On other people a kimono style top with a corset over might have been flattering. On me it was weirdly shapeless and uncomfortable. But you do what you need to as a maid of honor because the whole role is being backup and support. I fended off family crises, dress anxiety, bridal shower drama, the works. I’ve been a bridesmaid 4x now and nearly ever instance turned into an unwieldy nightmare. I was relieved when it was all over.

Eventually we all moved in to an apartment together to save money. This was not a great idea but we didn’t know that until the lease was signed and we discovered our “room” was more like a closet at the back of the place, with no heat, and every smell from the kitchen saturating it like a greasy fog. We’d trusted them to find a place compatible for everyone but just a quick comparison of the bedrooms showed something was off. Still it was a big rent reduction and we figured we’d manage.

As the months went on we felt more and more cramped and uncomfortable, especially as they came off medications for mental illness, both ended up laid off, and we all had to contend with obnoxious upstairs neighbors who accused us all of taking “malicious” showers early in the morning. Since none of us wanted to be getting up at 6am for any reason, especially not to cold water, it was one of the most absurd things I’ve ever dealt with while renting.

Things in the apartment got tense when we were the only ones working and the place would be kind of a wreck when I’d get home after a 2hr commute. The shared areas started to get bizarre between boxes of their stuff they never unpacked and took over an entire wall, all the wires for their computers, and the time she inexplicably ordered a wardrobe sized box of hair extensions. Then there was the cat….issue. One of their cats had some kind of allergy and things got really gross. At one point I got so frustrated with the way it literally left trails of snot everywhere, including up the walls, that they didn’t clean up after being asked over and over, that I left post-it notes everywhere I could find it saying “snot”. It was not my finest moment.

Another cleaning fiasco that became a major incident was when I apparently left onion bits in the sink after cooking and she accused me of doing it on purpose. I hadn’t, I’d forgotten. We joked about it a few nights later and she went off to bed. Her husband confronted me later telling me she was really hurt because I had “made light” of something so important to her. So it became The Thing With The Onions after that.

We’d often wake up to them frying food at 2am and she left her IUD’s in the fridge by the condiments. We had weird squabbles and frustrations. There were also good times and bizarre times. Halloween was fun, we dressed up the yard and handed out candy to the three or four kids who showed up. We had pizza nights and movie nights. Arguments about things that definitely don’t matter.

We got married sometime in there, a very a small thing without any of the usual fanfare. We went on a trip to Maine after for a week and I think we started to realize then that the living situation was getting suffocating for everyone.

Eventually we just couldn’t keep living in a tiny room, afraid to go into the rest of the apartment. When they got jobs, we quietly said we were moving out, and got out in about a month. We took a break after that, needing some distance from what had become, yet again, too close a relationship that had gone from intensely connected and Important to intensely toxic and upsetting. We still talked but less frequently and there was a tenseness to everything that I think everyone felt.

A few years later they moved to NYC and after some time, we caught up again. That rapport was back but I know I kept things at more of a distance than before. Still, we were friends again, and stayed that way for over a decade.

Which is why the sudden ghosting 2 years ago, after 20+ years, was such a surprise.