I had a very good friend, a girl with whom I taught for almost 10 years. Let's call her....... oh, say..... "Angela." That's her name. We had a lot in common. We were both beginning our careers about the same time. I had taught in a middle school for 3 years, and she had been a long-term substitute at the high school where we met. So we went through all the first-year-teacher orientation type stuff together.
We had a lot in common. We're both short. We're both sort of....round. We both had a knack of dealing with the less capable, less motivated students. She is African-American; I am white.
Angela has no children, so she sort of adopted my Sweet Girl as her play daughter. We did a lot of things together. When I was a single mom, she took Sweet Girl Christmas shopping so I would have some surprises under the tree on Christmas morning. When she got a phone call from a mysterious woman claiming to have a baby by Angela's husband, she showed up on my doorstep. As she should have. When I was broken-hearted, I could always cry on her shoulder. We celebrated each other's birthdays shamelessly, and we always met to have lunch at Christmas time and exchange gifts.
Most of all we went shopping. Angela is one of those rare friends who tells the truth about clothes I am tempted to buy. More than once she has said, "Ooooo honey, no, put that back. Do not even THINK about buying that." Sometimes I would sneak back and buy it anyway on a solo shopping trip, but I appreciated her honesty. Usually.
Angela's husband worked at night a lot of the time, and for a while I had a husband who bar-hopped at night a lot of the time, so we had a lot of time to spend together. We went to high school football games when we still taught high school. We went to a gymnastics meet once. We went to movies. We supervised students on field trips. We went out to eat a lot. It was always an adventure to go out to eat with Angela. You could almost bet your paycheck that she was going to send something back or ask for something special. If she wanted water to drink, she wanted three lemons. Not two. Not four. Three. If she ordered sweet tea, she also wanted sweetener to go in it because it was never sweet enough for her. And we met for brunch once, and she sent her eggs back because they weren't cooked right. At the Waffle House. I'm not kidding. Who sends food back at the Waffle House?
I transcribed Angela's interviews for her dissertation. I transcribed MY interviews for MY dissertation. Wait......... Never mind. When she was writing the final copy of her dissertation, I took it in the car with me TO GET MARRIED so I could proof it for her. All 500 pages. I was a guest speaker in her graduate classes. I supervised a couple of student teachers who were in her classes. I taught her brother.
The last I heard from Angela was two years ago this month. I emailed her to see if she wanted to see a particular movie that weekend. I don't even remember now what it was. I emailed her on a Monday or Tuesday, and she replied that she had a nasty cold and she would have to get back to me later in the week. I never heard from her again.
Now I know that email works two ways and my phone could just have easily called hers, but this was a one-sided relationship most of the years I knew her. She had joined a sorority of African-American women, and I thought at one point that it was an issue of race. After all these years, though? I mean, I'm no whiter now than I was when we met. Besides, we had another dear friend who is also African-American, and Angela dumped HER too, at the same time.
Now that two years have passed, I often wonder how awkward it would be if we ran into each other at the mall or a professional event. Is it terribly ugly of me to say I don't really miss her? She was awfully high maintenance now that I think about it. Several people have told me they thought she just used me all those years. I just wonder what went through her mind when she didn't answer me about that weekend. Or if I ever crossed her mind again.