“Are you going to Rachel’s thing next Friday?” a co-worker asked me today. Rachel and I have been friends at work for over ten years, so it was logical that I would be asked.
“Oh,” I said, having not heard of the event, “isn’t that for Rachel’s…?” I trailed off, hoping my co-worker would fill in the blank.
“Her pre-wedding party,” said my co-worker.
“Right,” I said, nodding enthusiastically. “I think so. I may have something else that night, but I think so.”
I better work on that Something Else, I thought. I’m not invited to Rachel’s event at all.
Rachel and I were “war buddies” for a while. We came to know each other when both her and I were battling a couple of addictions and a couple of bad romantic cul-de-sacs. Like good buddies sharing a foxhole during enemy bombardment, we looked out for each other, encouraged each other, gave advice, asked for advice, and occasionally indulged in our love of alcohol, safe in the knowledge that each of us looked out for the other.
Somewhere along the way, we got healthy. I don’t recall if I got healthy first or she got healthy first, but there came a time when we both were healthy – and didn’t look out for each other anymore. There was a time when seeing the two of us in the hallway would make people say, in all seriousness, ‘here comes trouble’. We kicked ass as a team. Nowadays, when the two of us are walking down the hall, it’s just coincidence and timing. We do the slight dance of social niceties and then spin off into our respective directions.
When I see Rachel, I am reminded of our time as exceptionally close friends (never sexual, it should be noted). It’s possible that she sees the same when she sees me. And perhaps she sees me like a photograph from a really bad time in her life, as that’s how I see her. Her finacee, who also works at the same place, wasn’t really keen on her and I being friends; whether that added to the end result of Rachel and I not seeing each other for months on end and not talking ever, I’m not sure. But, like sodium stearol lactylate in a Twinkie, it is but an ingredient.
She doesn’t mention her engagement to me when she has seen me. I don’t mention that I know when I see her. Instead, we say “how are you?”. Somewhere in those three words can be detected an acknowledgement of the days when we were in the same foxhole. And now fill our lives with Something Else.