Friday, February 25, 2011

History, Part 2

When my sister called I was on the phone with Joey. Last time I spoke with Joey nearly a year ago, he was telling me he was getting back together with his ex. I'd never met David; that relationship ended just before I met Joey in 2006 and we became friends. Yes, with benefits. I heard a lot about David though, and I don't remember one good word.

Then it seemed David's latest boyfriend left him and he reached out to Joey. And Joey reached out to me. My advice? Take things slow. You're in the driver's seat. Treat it like a new relationship and start dating for a while before committing to anything exclusive. People can change in four years and you need time to get reacquainted before making any rash decisions. Even I wasn't sure if my advice was sage or selfish.

Maybe Joey heard my words, but he didn't listen. Before the week was over Joey was moving into David's house and telling me to contact him through his sister if I needed to reach him. I never did. I missed Joey, but kept telling myself it was for the best. It was certainly good for the home front, as JB never liked Joey.

Over time, it got easier. When I did think about Joey, it was from a historical perspective. A chapter of my life uncharacteristically dramatic and tumultuous. And exciting and passionate. I was relieved to move on to the next chapter. I found myself developing new friendships and activities that seemed to help occupy the empty space.

Then this came two weeks ago.

I didn't call. Joey tried calling me a few times before I accidentally answered. I was waiting for my sister to call with news about my critically ill father and answered without looking at the display.

I listened to Joey for 45 minutes. David had kicked him out. Drama. As someone who always listened to him and knew him well, he was using me as a mirror to examine what went wrong.

"Am I a negative person?"

I dodged to the left, "Not always. I like it when you laugh."

"Do I complain too much?"

I dodged to the right, "Well, it's not like you don't have a lot to complain about."

All this time I kept thinking that maybe I should just be honest and direct. Tell Joey he's a drama junkie who never takes personal responsibility for his own feelings or for the predicaments he finds himself in. But five years of experience taught me it would just elevate the drama level, and I frankly didn't have the energy. I was worried about my dad.

And what about that? A half-hour into our first communication in ten months and he has yet to ask about me and how I'm doing? Since we're self-examining our faults, let's add "self-absorbed" to the list.

I finally interrupted Joey while he was explaining how David, while still recovering from his latest cosmetic procedure, had the nerve to tell Joey he looked old.

"My sister is calling."

"I can hold." Sigh. He was fishing for reassurance and he was willing to wait for it.

[A minute goes by.]

"You there, Joey?"

"I'm here."

"I have to go, my dad just passed away."


That was a week ago Wednesday. This past Sunday, the day after the funeral, I was at my sister's house in Wisconsin when I got a text from my bff Eddie. Seems he was surprised to run into Joey at a popular local bar a block away from my house. The same place where I first met Joey five years ago. It's local to me, but a 100 mile drive each way for Joey. No surprise, I thought. Already falling back into old habits.

"And he's looking good. Real good."

Ouch. Thanks Eddie.

An hour later, a text from Joey. "Call me when you get a chance."

I still haven't had a chance.


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