Monday, August 11, 2008

Awkward....Very Awkward....

Last week I found one of my very good friends from high school on Facebook.

We exchanged the usual catching up crap and then at the very end of her note she did what I was dreading.

She asked about Shakes, my best friend from high school.

"Do you still keep in touch with Shakes? I've been kind of worried about her."

I should have known it was coming. Nevertheless I didn't know how to answer that question.

Shakes and I became instant best friends in high school. I was the outgoing, super-involved one. She was the eccentric "Well, if you really knew her..." socially inept one. Despite our differences, we were very good friends and did bring out good qualities in each other.

We inevitably drifted apart in college but when she moved back we were still very close. She was even my maid of honor though the title really should have gone to one of my college friends.

We both changed dramatically during our friendship hiatus. We grew up. She came back to a Moxie that was driven to start her career off with a bang, juggling rent and student loans and who was planning her wedding to her college sweetheart. I wasn't perfect or put together but in that "starting out in the real world" mentality, I was at least trying to get my shit together.

When she came back, I a got Shakes that moved back in with her dad, was less focused, took a crap job in her dad's office and started dating a complete Loser (and that's with a capital L). A Shakes that was much more neurotic than before. Nowhere near as happy but she never wanted to do anything about it.

Things were ok for a few years until she met Loser. Loser did/dealt drugs, I think he hit her, but that's not totally proven. Her already stagnant life spiralled out of control. She stopped going to work, stopped going home, stopped returning calls from me, her dad and her other best friend, Anna (who inevitably became mine due to concern over Shakes circumstances.)

Anna and I, who knew each other, but never really hung out, started talking to each other a lot. And we were both worried. We saw unexplainable bruises on her, saw the drastic change in her appearance and it pretty much seemed like she was either drinking heavily, or doing drugs or both.

Right before Darling was born, her father dropped dead. Literally, in a hotel in Vegas and Shakes' last thread of sanity snapped. She couldn't handle anything and Loser sure wasn't helping. Anna and I were the ones who made all the funeral arrangements, brought his body back from Vegas and the day after Darling was born, he was finally put to rest.

Things went from bad to much, MUCH worse after that. Shakes quit/was fired from her job. She lived totally off her father's pension. Spent it like a sailor. Loser broke up with her. Her physical shaking became much more than just the mild tic. Her drinking went wild.

She couldn't understand why I couldn't just drop everything and go out to dinner with her at the drop of a hat. (Hello, newborn. Hello, hubby working his ass off around the clock. Not easy to find a babysitter.)

Shakes had a major falling out with Anna. They didn't speak for 4 years. I kept in touch, but distantly. I finally cut it loose with her when Darling was about 1 years old. I was nervous to have her around Darling or myself.

Handsome didn't want her in the house after she showed up one night, threw up a bottle of wine in my front yard and told me about how when she was driving to St. Louis, she was first pulled over for suspicious driving and how the cops followed her in an airplane all the way. How they didn't take away her father's gun (which was in the car), after she promised to turn it in to a Catholic priest.

That was the point where I said, "Enough is enough. You can't help someone who doesn't want it."

We broke off our friendship in a heated argument in which I begged her to get help.

We didn't talk for 2 years until she just showed up at my work one day. Just showed up, freaking me out. We tried to mend our 15 year friendship.

The night I invited her to Handsome's show and I called her at intermission to ask where she was, she told me that she couldn't find it and went shopping instead.

I said nothing, but the de ja vu washed over me as I remembered a very similar night years before when that exact thing happened and she ended up with her first of three DUIs.

I snapped my cell phone shut and haven't talked to her since.

She just got done with her 6 months house arrest for the third DUI. Her license is suspended, but she is able to walk to her job at McDonalds up the street. Anna says she's doing much better, but I'm not ready to try again. I know this makes me a bad person, but I just can't go through all that again.

SO, that was a really long background to my "How's Shakes?" conundrum. I called Anna, asked what she would do because I COULDN'T tell my old friend what was really going on, but I didn't want to lie.

Anna told me to tell her that I wasn't in touch with Shakes anymore but I could probably find her number if she wanted it.

Which is exactly what I would tell someone to do in my situation, so hopefully it's the right thing. If she calls, Shakes can tell her whatever she wants.