Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Old friends

I bumped into her at the bookshop (where else would you find me?) and that she was startled to see me, was evident. We gazed at each other for a while, sizing up the other's weaknesses. I'd been back three months and hadn't called her. Hadn't intended to. Although I knew in the close circumscribed circle in which I moved in KL, I was sure to bump into her some place or another.

I watched her regard me thoughtfully. She was looking for contrition, maybe a little apprehension. But I kept my face carefully devoid of expression.

"Hello Jenn, what are you doing here?"

"Looking for a card."

"I wrote to you about a month ago, how come you never replied?"

"Did you? That's funny, I never received any email."

"It was on the Yahoo Messenger."

"Oh I see, that doesn't count. I hardly log on and besides, everything gets erased the moment you lose your connection."

"What's wrong with you? Why are you acting like this?"

"Nothing. I'm just not interested in pretending to be friends with you. I don't like you very much and am not a good an actress as you are."

"How dare you? Where were you when I needed you? You knew my Dad was dying, my husband had left me, you knew things were not right with me..."

"And? I spent all this time trying to be your friend. You pushed me away. Turned cold without an explanation. No, I don't give a flying fuck that you were going through hell. You're always going through hell aren't you? Always some reason for everyone to feel sorry for you. You like the attention and the drama...sorry, not into that. Go find some other sucker whose willing to listen, pat you on the shoulder and tell you things are going to be alright."

The words shivered in the air between us. I was trembling. All these years, they were stuck in my throat and finally, finally, finally, I got to say them. I watched her flinch. Then close up. Self protect.

She held me with that nonchalant gaze and yawned. Deliberately. "I don't know what you're getting so upset about. The least you can do when you meet old friends is try to be civil. Dear old Jenn, always the drama queen."

And with that she turned and walked away.


goldennib said...

Oooo, what a bitch she is!

When I'm in Kuala Lumpur, and after reading your stories and looking your home up, (I may need to add a trip to my wishlist) we'll git her.

You can't affect people like that with words. The only the thing that affects them is ice cold ambivilence. They hate being ignored or treated like they are totally unimportant, like walking away from her when she's still speaking.

They don't really care if you like them or not as long as you pay attention to them.

Jenn said...

Thanks, Nessa, but it was my fault. I forgot the cardinal rule over here, which is never show emotion. The worse you feel, the colder you are supposed to behave.
It was something I learned as a reporter and was never very good at (the man on the 12th floor in a coma knows what I am feeling). Which is why I left. Which is why I was dreading coming back. This is what I dreaded.

I miss Perth with my sweet old neighbours across the street with whom I shared coffee, my young, young friends who were neither bitter nor cynical, my eccentric lecturers, who were still, to my way of thinking, so innocent about everything.

PS: If you were thinking of coming I would love to have you. But there'd be more interesting things to do than go bitch hunting. :)

goldennib said...

I talk big, but I don't usually "go after" people. Revenge just makes me feel worse. I usually just work on not caring anymore.

Can't you go back to Perth? I know you really miss it. Maybe you need to go for the next degree. I loved school. I could have been a professional student if I could convince someone to pay me for it.

I'm thinking about traveling again. It's been many years. I never thought about your side of the world. There was always this invisible line drawn at Europe. I've been trying to learn more of an entire half of the world I've known nothing about.

I thank you for your invitation. I will absolutely keep it in mind.

Jenn said...

I work on the same things too. Although, even when I care terribly, I pretend to not care. That doesn't work, somehow. I am trying to work my way out of this. I don't want to carry these heavy feelings in my heart, places rubbed raw so often that I've forgotten what it feels like when it doesn't hurt.