We laugh about it now, and to be honest we even laughed about it then. I cannot help but believe, though, that most of the laughter comes because we cannot stand to be sad about it. Though the pain was, and is, very deep. We’re recovering. All scars heal. Life goes on, and eventually we thrive again. But that night still. makes. me laugh.
We finally decided that it was no use waiting around to be taken out on nice dates, so we, the two strong and beautiful women that we were (are) decided to make a girls’ night of it–we’d take each other out. It was brilliant, really, I mean, there you were some 3 months out of a powerful relationship that had ended abruptly and poorly; and I, newly invigorated by a man that would eventually leave me with much the same result some three months later. At this strange fulcrum in our love lives a night just for us–two dear friends–seemed like it could not have been more perfectly placed. The date had finally been set. We would go out for a posh dinner, followed by a play at the local community college. There really is nothing like getting dressed to the nines for a night out with your dear friend.
Shortly after we took our seats in the playhouse I looked up and saw him across the room. I silently panicked and my body abruptly grew heavy in my faux-velvet chair. I looked away. And then back again. It was him alright–the man that only a few months earlier would have stopped the world for you–walking in with some girl I’d never seen before. They came closer to us, having spotted seats only a few rows directly behind ours. “What?” You asked.
“Jamie. He’s here.”
The smile on your face dropped. “Where?”
“There is a girl with him.”
I quickly opened the program, pointed at something–anything–and started laughing. We were having a good time, right? Laugh, Jamie. Anything. He’s right behind us. You laughed, probably out of confusion more than anything.
The room darkened and the play began. You held my hand for a bit and at intermission we discussed who Agatha Cristie had made the murder this time. You kept your face forward and I turned to talk with you, secretly looking out the corner of my eye to update on the girl he’d brought. “I can hear his voice,” you said. “I haven’t heard his voice in so long.”
At the conclusion of the play we laughed all the way back to my car. Once we were in, doors shut and locked, off in a far corner of the parking lot, we began screaming. We screamed for some 10 minutes, stopping only to catch our breath and put words to noise: “HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN?” “I didn’t even think he KNEW that the community college HAD plays!” “WHO goes to plays for fun other than us?!” “HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN?!”
After our hearts stopped racing we went to the adoration chapel for a long time. I was so angry couldn’t do anything but yell inside my head. You were quiet. And calm. Though obviously shaken. “How does that even happen?”
We ate a roll of cookie dough and went to bed. I was honored that I could be the one to be there with you–even if it pains my heart to laugh about it then, and now.
But life goes on. And genuine laughter comes back, even if he never does.