Reverb14 is a prompt-a-day series for the month of December designed to reflect on 2014 and project hopes and dreams for 2015. Throughout December,Sarah, Kat and I will post each day with a new prompt. Join us by writing, or join us by reading. Follow us on Twitter @project_reverb and #reverb14.
Work| What sort of work did you do in 2014? Was it new to you? Did you take on new responsibilities? Change jobs? Or take on a new task at home?
You may or may not be wondering what happened to Frederic in the midst of all of this Major Life Change.
Years ago, when we still worked in the MetLife building, as the world was ending around us, there was one day when Frederic looked at me very sadly and said, Promise me we’ll always be friends. And I was so taken aback by it that I’d made the promise, even though in my heart I was saying, Yeah, right, buddy. If our respective marriages fail and we don’t wind up together, I’d probably rather see you rot in hell rather than be your FRIEND.
And in truth, for a long time, I very much wanted him to rot.
We’d had this Big Love. And nobody gives you instructions for what you do with a Big Love that doesn’t end with rice in your hair, and a baby in a carriage, and one of those wood-paneled station wagons like everyone’s Cool Mom in the ’80s (am I dating myself here?).
So Freddy got married to an ex-colleague of ours and moved to the ‘burbs, and I stayed on the Upper East Side, and we each had to grow up in our respective ways once Everything Changed.
It took me a long time not to be mad about that. Because sometimes, it felt like everyone else was moving forward and I was Staying The Same.
It took us a long time to be…Friends.
This was partly because he had called me out of the blue one Friday about three years ago to tell me he was marrying someone we both knew, and the following day, I got hit by a car. Within 72 hours, I had found out my then-boyfriend was sleeping with another friend’s sister, and my entire life unraveled into a shame-spiral of public humiliation, and I’d had to slink back to California where I sat slack-jawed at SFO, my arm in a sling, too bewildered to explain what was happening even to another friend who’d seen me at my worst.
So I blamed Everything Bad on Frederic. Because he was easy to blame, and because he wasn’t there. He didn’t have anything to do with anything. Technically, he didn’t even DO anything to me, except go on with his life, which he had already been doing for the better part of a year at that stage.
Then, one day, after months of not-speaking, I was in London, and the night before, I’d just been caught in the riots in Notting Hill, and I was overcome with the urge to email Frederic.
That evening we exchanged a few messages like nothing had happened, and then he said, “BTW, I guess we’re speaking again.”
And so we were.
And so we have been.
Some people in my life have said, “You never should’ve scratched that old scab.”
But the reality is, you don’t stop loving someone just because it didn’t work out between you. As I’ve gotten to know Freddy as his friend, I’ve realised, too, that it was never going to work out for us. We had something special, but the sharp edges of our personalities are such that it would always be barbs and jabs. For one, he is fastidiously neat, and I leave wet towels on the bed. He wears cargo pants at the weekend, and in my view, that’s a sartorial death wish (I have young kids! he whined when I called him out on it, I’m not going to carry a diaper bag).
(Buy a nice messenger bag and burn the cargo pants, I told him. Or just take a cyanide pill right now, I said under my breath.)
And so this year, when the opportunity for us to work together professionally arose, I seized it. We got to be…normal friends; normal colleagues. We got to sit in meetings; tell old jokes; talk on the phone; and, be the grown-up version of ourselves that we had become.
I have learned over the years is that Big Loves are very, very big. And if they are real, your heart doesn’t shrink when they change shape or size — you just have to choose to work at them, and with them, in whatever form they shift into. And it’s good to be friends with Frederic now. It’s a choice — it’s a natural choice, but that doesn’t mean it’s not work.
I like who and what our relationship has grown into. Is it a little crazy — this friendship; this relationship; this work that we do? Sure. But sometimes things worth having are the result of a solid history, and a little bit of crazy, and a lot of hard work.