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2002-06-13 - 9:44 a.m.

Things I liked about Boston (in no particular order):

  • the weather
  • my funky new hair cut
  • spending time with The Best Friend
  • hanging out with cool people
  • coffee oreo ice cream
  • yummy co-op sandwiches with herbed mayo
  • playing pool at an Irish bar
  • The Best Friend's roommate

Things I did NOT like about Boston (in no particular order):

  • the traffic
  • not spending enough time with The Best Friend
  • sleeping on an uncomfortable couch
  • the paint fumes from The Best Friend's landlord repainting the stairwell right outside the front door, next to which my couch was conveniently (or not) located
  • seeing The Best Friend incredibly unhappy, hurting herself, lying to herself and others, and basically being in a Very Bad Way

See, it's that last one that kills me.


I've known for a while that TBF has been having problems. Part of it is to be expected in today's society. It's not easy to come out to your family and friends. Actually, her friends were all fine with it, it's been more of a family drama. But that seemed to have sorted itself out last year and she was doing better. She broke up with her first girlfriend, N. (to be expected). I had gotten a chance to know N. a little when I visited Boston a couple of years ago (I try to go every year or every other year). I liked N., she treated TBF well and they genuinely seemed to like each other, but things didn't work out. After some random dating around, TBF started seeing another woman more seriously (T.). The relationship with T. had its issues from the start. T. is 14 years older than TBF and black. Neither of which is an insurmountable problem in a relationship, but taken together (plus the lesbian thing) they do provide more challenges than the average straight, similar-aged, similar-ethnicity relationship. I think the age difference was the biggest obstacle. Think about it--late 20s vs. early 40s. Most people are in different places in their lives at those two ages. T. was talking about adopting a baby or having her partner (in this case, TBF) get inseminated. TBF is just getting her career off the ground and coming to terms with who she is and what she wants in life. Besides, after hearing tales of their relationship, I have serious reservations about whether T. is stable enough for parenthood.

Evidently things were hot and heavy for a while. Sex was never a problem, and in fact was a major benefit. We've all been there, right? But there were problems. Big ones. T. and TBF went back in forth in this crazy love/hate thing. I'd get panicked crying phone calls and hear all about the horrible things they were doing to each other, ripping each other apart emotionally, and then the next week they'd be back together. Horrible jealousy--T. didn't want TBF to do stuff with her own friends, yet T. also didn't want to let TBF into her tight circle of close friends. TBF wanted to go out a lot, T. didn't. Again, to be expected given the age difference, but T. also didn't want TBF to go out alone or with friends. One of the worst moments I heard about was when T. told TBF she wanted to break up and TBF asked if there was someone else. T. said yes. She said she had found someone she really wanted/needed to spend time with and get to know better. It turned out she was drawing some far-fetched metaphor about herself. The "new person" she was torturing TBF with was herself. She needed to spend time with herself/by herself, but instead of saying that and asking for space/time alone/whatever, she told TBF in the most manipulative, freaky, psychotic way possible.

They've continued going back and forth, breaking up and getting back together. However, a few weeks ago they broke up and it seemed like it was finally going to stick. That is was really over. Recently, TBF hooked up with another woman, L. They started out as friends and things progressed from there. However, T. doesn't know about L. and TBF won't tell her. In fact, TBF and T. had a five-hour fight about L. in which TBF "finally convinced T. that nothing was going on." When I heard that, I had to respond. I said, "But that's a lie, right?" And it was. TBF was so angry when she found out her father was cheating on her mother, but it's a pattern she's repeating (and has in the past). I've always made excuses for her because, well, she's The Best Friend. My best friend. We've known each other for almost 15 years and we're not even 30 yet. But I can't now. I'm struggling with how to be there for her and be supportive of her but at the same time not support her choices.

I also found out that she's been hurting herself. She said she isn't doing it any more and it was only during her worst moments with T. that it happened. I hope that's true. I want to believe it's true (and didn't see any evidence to the contrary when I was there), but of course I'm sick with worry. TBF's therapist knows about it, and I think about everything else that's going on. One of those other things is that TBF is now dealing with a reoccurrence of thyroid cancer. Oh yeah, fucking cancer. It's treatable (remove the thyroid), but still scary and something she'll have to deal with for the rest of her life. She'll always be on synthetic thyroid hormones that have to be taken every day at a certain time. It's not the end of the world--the doctors caught it early enough that it hasn't spread and can be treated. But still. Cancer. Fucking cancer.

I couldn't get TBF to talk about much about all this stuff when I was there. Sometimes she'd let off steam and tell me something about what was going on, but real, honest, one-on-one time was something we didn't have that much of. Whenever we were in the car, she turned the music up really loud so it was impossible to talk. When we were at her apartment, she would disappear into her room to return phone calls, leaving me to talk to her (very nice) roommate. At night we would go out (always with other people) or go to her friends' places. I don't know if these were all unrelated things that I noticed more or if they were purposeful, an avoidance strategy, but I got the feeling she didn't want to have the kind of heart-to-hearts we've always had in the past.

I look at her and I see her being so on edge--being on the edge. I see her distracting herself with the phone, with work, with projects, with friends. I wonder if she is able to just be by herself right now. What happens when she closes the door and tries to just be? Without calling up a friend or lover. Without starting a project or thinking about work or doing anything else but being alone. Can she do that right now? Is she comfortable being in that place? Being with herself?

It's hard for me because part of my nature is to want to help. To want to fix it. To fix everything. But I can't. And I know that whatever I'm going through, she's going through it so much more. It's not even comparable. I just want her to be happy and she's not. I hope that therapy helps. I hope that time helps. I hope that somehow just going there and spending time with each other helped. I find myself wanting to stage some kind of intervention, but I don't know how. I don't want her to feel attacked or abandoned and all the scenarios I come up with in my head seem to lead to that. At the same time, I also don't want to look back and say, "I saw the signs and I didn't do enough." Maybe I'm being selfish.

I'm worried about my best friend.

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