Ask Agony Aunties: Grown Apart, But Not Far Enough

by d
Friendship love and truth

Image via Wikipedia

As we don’t have an advice columnist, we’ll do the reverse. Contributors can ask a question and receive advice from readers. This is a more structured call-and-response system that the usual comments.

The course of true friendship never did run smooth.

Especially since I’m not sure if this is a friendship anymore.

I have a dilemma. I have a friend I have known since the early days of elementary school. Now we only see each other once a year, and this was fine until recently. About a year or two ago, she did something I still cannot entirely forgive. It’s not something she did to me, but to people I know. It makes me angry to think of it, and I really don’t think I want to spend any more time with her.

If it were just me, I would let the friendship peter out, as it seems it one day will. But I cannot get out of this once-a-year meetup. Our families mesh well, it’s a group event.

So, what do I do this year?

“Mandy” and I met through extracurricular lessons. We connected in the class, and our mothers struck up a friendship while waiting in the foyer for our classes to finish. This lead to playdates, and mad hours spent running around with her little brother. (We were very anti-little-brother in those days, natch.)

It was a lot easier to be friends in those days. We had the class in common, though we didn’t talk about it much. But we had dolls and games and all the other things kids find to do. (Sometimes we let the brother play. Mostly not.)

We grew apart for a number of reasons. We went to different schools. I quit the class years before she did. She was in a myriad of other extracurriculars that I barely dabbled in. And, it emerged that our priorities were, are, very different.

From the time she was old enough to understand it she had the concept of networking drummed into her. Have you ever heard a ten year old talk about how very important it is to network when you meet a new group of people? I have.

She and her brother did everything right, academically. They did all the extracurriculars, they got the grades, they networked like crazy, and it paid off in scholarships and degrees from some of the nation’s most prestigious schools, leading into well-paying jobs. I was never interested in any of that. I’ve always thought of deliberate networking as false. I kept most of that to myself.

Anyway, a few years ago, this friend graduated from Very Prestigious School and got a job in New York City. I went to school there, so I know the drill. It’s expensive as hell, and everyone lives in the burroughs. Not my old friend. She sets up in a shared apartment in Manhattan, with swanky accoutrements. She works in the financial district, and it’s even more important now than it was before (in college, in pre-college programs, in high school…) that she wear brand names and designer labels.

I had not realized just how preoccupied she is with such details until it came to furnishing the new apartment. I’m a firm believe in Starting Small. Your first apartment should be a hole in the wall full of hand-me-downs. We had a neighbor with furniture she was trying to get rid of. Naturally, we put them in contact.

This turned into a drawn out fiasco. Despite our vetting, she wouldn’t commit to taking it. Photos were not enough. She and her mother tried to argue down the already nominal price every time it came up. At the last possible moment, my friend called her mother to say that she had bought a brand new set of furniture so she wouldn’t be needing this other thing. She never called my mother, who was a relay point. She never called our neighbor. No apology or acknowledgement has ever come from her. And the reason for her impetuous decision? Another woman at the office told her about bedbugs, and Mandy just knew that if this chick knew she’d gotten second-hand furniture the whole office would wind up thinking she had gotten bedbugs from the old furniture.

I am still peeved about all this. Every step in this New York Apartment deal pisses me off, but this thing with the furniture does me in. I think what she did was worse than rude, and irrational, to boot. A series of very poor decisions. I feel that she should have known better.

I was feeling a lot of animus toward her the last time we got together, but it went fairly smoothly. This year I got a great deal through work and was able to snag the perfect gift from her, from a great brand. But I don’t want to give it to her. I don’t feel like doing something so nice for her. I don’t want to show affection that I am still not feeling.

Who’s the one being irrational now? She didn’t do anything to me. But I was there the whole way while my mother and our neighbor tried to sort everything out, so I know the offenses and the way they piled up.

I suppose this means I feel more kindly toward my neighbor than to this friend of nearly twenty years. I would rather be friends with her brother than with her–my eight year old self would never believe it. He’s grown into a genuinely nice guy–hell, he’s genuine. He doesn’t read into everything, he’s aware of game-playing but he isn’t always anticipating the next chess move and how it will impact his well-being.

Should I forgive? Should I let bygones be bygones? Or should I say something to her? Is there any good way to say such a thing?

2 Comments to “Ask Agony Aunties: Grown Apart, But Not Far Enough”

  1. AN UPDATE: Yesterday, after this post went live, I spoke to my mother. We were already talking about this particular family.

    “I’m still angry at Mandy,” I said. She looked at me, in a way that said she agreed. “I don’t want to give her [really nice present]. I really don’t.”

    “I was wondering about that. I don’t, either.”

    So, she’ll be getting something else. And I feel better about it.

  2. I think you handled it well. It sucks that you still have to meet up with her once a year, though. I feel that what she did was spoiled and ungrateful, not to mention rude and inconsiderate. She had no obligation to take the furniture, but if she didn’t want it from the get-go (and I really think from all the hemming and hawing from the start that was described that she did not) then she should have said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” and done her own thing. Since that’s what she ended up doing anyway.

    Whether she should’ve known better makes no difference, there are tactful and polite ways to do things. You, your mother, and your neighbor all went out of your way to do something nice for her and help her out. She threw it back in your faces and drug it out as long as possible. Like ripping off wax from your hoo-ha one hair at a time.

    If she had just said no in the first place, your neighbor could have focused on getting her furniture sold to someone who actually wanted it and would appreciate it a lot sooner.

    Things like this belie a person’s true personality, if you ask me.

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