Sunday, September 16, 2012
Best Friends and Sleepovers
When my parents went on vacation to Mountain Resort last month I had no intention of staying by myself in our isolated, 200-year-old farmhouse. Can you blame me? The last time I took that risk there was, after all, a natural disaster. The clear solution was to have a slumber party in my family's absence, and with my mother's blessing I invited Laquesha, who drove more than two hours to take part in the event.
Many of you will recall Laquesha as the freewheeling college friend who, upon meeting me for the first time, regaled me with the story of how she had blackout sex in front of a New Year's Eve party and who upon learning of my "Flickr page" insisted, "I want to have a black pseudonym! I want to be a black woman!"
She's one of my closest friends and, fittingly, the only person featured on this blog who has ever chosen their own pseudonym. I allowed her to christen her boyfriend as well and she immediately dubbed him "Tyrone." He's Korean.
But for all her eccentricities Laquesha is a deep thinker, an unflinchingly loyal friend, and, above all, a very fun time.
"I haven't gotten this good and drunk in a while!" she declared with a happy hiccup as she took another swig of beer.
Norwegian, amused but stone-cold sober despite her row of empty beers, looked at us from across my kitchen table and shook her head.
"You two are...silly."
It works out for us, though.
In light of the way Laquesha and I met it is somewhat surprising that we have become as close as we are. We were introduced in 2009 through Red-Haired Friend, with whom I was but casually acquainted and whose friendship with Laquesha was only slightly more developed. All three of us were still university students at the time and Red-Haired Friend invited me on a whim to cook with her in her campus apartment.
That was it.
Laquesha would likely have remained a distant friend-of-a-friend but for the fact that she spent the summer of 2010 interning about ten miles from Mountain Town and, knowing no one else in the area, hung out almost exclusively with me for three months. By the time school was back in session we'd become so thick that Red-Haired Friend said she wouldn't be surprised if we'd developed our own language.
We know each other well
So when Laquesha called me on Saturday at one o'clock in the morning, I knew something was wrong.
"Hey, are you alright?" I asked as I shot a glance at Black Boy, with whom I was watching a movie. "I'm at a friend's house right now."
"Yeah, I'm not like, in danger or anything," she said. Her voice cracked. "But I broke up with Tyrone."
Tyrone was Laquesha's boyfriend of two years, a handsome math nerd who swept Laquesha off her feet while tutoring her in physics. They'd been engaged for nine months.
"Oh, my gosh, Laquesha, I'm so sorry."
I hopped off the couch and waved an apology at Black Boy as I walked into the next room.
"He just blindsided me," she said. "He said he wasn't ready for marriage. After everything he said that he wasn't ready."
I understood her frustration.
Tyrone is a recently minted officer in the U.S. Navy who, conscious of the demands his career would place on him, proposed marriage to Laquesha in January so that she could accompany him from post to post and receive the military benefits to which an officer's spouse is entitled.
"I just don't know what the fuck to do," she'd told me at the time. "I mean, I'm twenty-three years old! I love him, but I never thought...I mean, we're so young."
In the end she asked herself if she really wanted to spend the rest of her life with Tyrone, and when the answer was yes she decided to make the sacrifice. Yes, she said, she'd marry him.
Sometime around the start of the summer, however, the tables turned and Tyrone became ambiguous about living arrangements, a wedding date, and even the marriage itself.
"I never wanted this," Laquesha told me in June. "But I love him and I'm willing to do it. Bottom line, I'm not following him across the country, moving from base to base, and having him be gone for six months at a time unless I have a commitment. I'm not."
"No," I replied. "Because if anything happens, you're fucked. If he dies you get no benefits, and if he just decides it's over then you're alone in a strange part of the country without any kind of income."
"Exactly," she concurred. "I won't do it."
The Laquesha I spoke with early Saturday morning was in shock.
"I went to his officers' school graduation in Small State," she said. "And then we drove back down to Southern State and spent the whole week together. It was great. But last night after dinner he sat me down on the bed and was like, 'I'm not ready for marriage. I can't be that selfless.'
"So I just put on my shoes and was like, 'We have nothing to discuss, then.'
"And then he started crying and begging me not to go. He said he still wanted to have a relationship and he still wanted us to live together. I was just like, 'I don't even know what you're asking me. This is over.' And I left."
"Honey, I am so proud of you," I said. "Really."
"Yeah," she said, suddenly breaking into tears. "And I didn't let him see, but it hurts so bad. I thought he was the one. I thought I was going to have his children."
After sniffling away her tears she spoke again.
"Listen, I know it's really far, but my grandmother is going away next week and it might be a perfect time for a sleepover. I mean, I don't want to trouble you--"
"Bitch, you know I got you like that."
Laughter came shaking through the weeping.
"Thanks. Can I Facebook you the address?"
"Sure. Which day works best?"
"Okay, then. I'll see you on Thursday."