Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I listened without comment as we had lunch in the sunshine, watching the water shoot from one of the fountains on campus before falling in fancy patterns into the pool waiting below. I glanced at my companion as I took a sip of iced tea, remaining quiet as I considered what she said.

She'd been engaged when I joined Industry. Though we worked together at random and rare times, gossip spreads wildly throughout the ranks. So when I asked someone who she was and mentioned she seemed smart, I was soon told of the errant fiance and his horde of women. I replied with a 'long-distance relationships are hard' type of comment and learned that she was heartbroken when she returned his ring and ended her engagement.

"So how did you meet NewGuy?" I asked of her new fiance, admiring the way the diamond on her left hand caught the sunlight and sparkled. She told me, between bites of salad littered with peas and raisins, that she'd known him forever. They'd met in college but she mostly ignored him. "We got close when things started to go wrong with OldGuy," she noted and the flashing warning light that indicates transitional relationship began to blink insistently in my brain. "He was wonderful," she told me with a smile. "We talked for hours about my options and what was right for me. He was supportive and appreciative and wonderful."

"That's nice," I offered, deciding there was no polite way to share my concern and attempting to discard it completely. "You deserve someone like that."

"Yes," she said. "I know it's soon - we hadn't dated for 4 months before he asked me to marry him. And I wasn't really ready to leave here and move back there just yet. But what if I get pregnant? And he doesn't really want to live apart for the next two years."

"It's always hard to leave a place. To close a chapter." I commiserated. "Even when you're really ready and confident, I think it's natural to feel a few twinges of regret when you're preparing to leave a place - and some people - behind. But it's also exciting that you're moving toward something so promising - new job, new home, new love."

She nodded, looking far more bitter than sweet, and I busied myself with a cookie. I'm pretty fond of cookies so that worked pretty well until we hugged goodbye and hoped we had time to lunch again before she packed up completely.

On my walk back from her office to mine, I remembered a dinner we had last winter. She'd planned to spend time with NewGuy but canceled on him when she unexpectedly saw OldGuy and spent several days in his company instead. I squinted behind my sunglasses as I tried to remember more clearly and align timelines, becoming increasingly sure that I was right. NewGuy was TransitionalGuy. My friend - a lovely woman with enormous talent and innate kindness - was working through feelings of betrayal and insecurity with this man and I fretted that she wouldn't really be happy with him once she bounced all the way back.

"It's a pay cut," she told me today when she called to see why I wasn't at work. After telling her about Chienne and my mom and explaining that I just needed some space for a day, we chatted about her new job. "And it's less responsibility and pretige. So I'm sad about that. But I have to sacrifice to be near him, right?" She paused, waiting for me to agree and I thought frantically about what to say.

"Katie?" she asked, sounding concerned and I assured her I was fine.

"I don't know," I told her. "I think," I said slowly, "that there are some defining decisions that must be made. And I suppose it's rare that you can take very much without giving quite a bit in return. I want you to be happy," I concluded sincerely. "And I very much hope this gets you there."

It was her turn to be quiet and I fervently hoped she wouldn't ask if I thought it would, in fact, get her there. Because I don't think I do, but when it comes to love - especially operating from a terminally single perspective - it's extremely difficult to offer thoughts without seeming critical or jealous.

"I hope so, too," she said. After promising to call if I needed anything, I flipped my phone closed and returned to the couch with Chienne. She's slept all day and I believe the pain is coming from her right foreleg. Mom called to say the procedure had been uncomfortable but not awful. We'll know results tomorrow afternoon.

Until then, I'm waiting and praying, grateful for the thoughts and prayers directed our way. And quietly directing prayers of my own toward friends online and off.


Psycgirl said...

It can be so hard to watch people make what seem like bad decisions. I think you're a good friend to not barge in on her life with your thoughts. She needs to find her own conclusions. You're a good friend to be worried though, the situation sounds a little unsettled.
I hope Chienne is doing a little better, and am glad to hear your mom will have results so quickly.

Brigindo said...

You are a good friend. There's really nothing else to do but be supportive when she needs it.

Sorry about your mom and Chienne. I hope all goes well. I'm going through similar issues with my mom right now. The initial diagnosis was not what we hoped but so far everything is going well.

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

You are a really good friend. It's hard to let other people make those decisions that seem bad, but she knows that she has your support (and that can make all the difference). I hope that Chienne feels better soon. I'm glad that your mom's procedure went well and I'll be thinking of you both tomorrow.

Amelie said...

It's always difficult to see people you care about make decisions that don't seem good. I think you're a good friend for not ignoring your concerns, but at the same time not pressing them on her.

Hope your mom and Chienne are better soon.

Psych Post Doc said...

That is a difficult situation and I too am glad that she did not ask weather you thought this path would make her happy. I hope for her sake that the transitional man is the right right man.

I hope things are better with Chienne and that your mom receives the best kind of news today.

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