Looking back on it, of course I bumped into her at the craft store. My heart was still pounding with the memory of texting her just minutes earlier from the parking lot. â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ I wrote. The thought that I might see her there at the craft store even crossed my mind as I walked through the door and lifted Nate into a cart. Usually it would be a good thought, but this time, no. It breaks my heart to admit it.
â€œHi,â€ she said halfheartedly as we met at the end of the aisle near the cake decorating supplies. I maneuvered the cart around a large metal stepladder; we may as well have been in city lockup together.
â€œHi,â€ I answered, knowing full well that she was angry. It felt strange to have my best friend angry with me at all and the week before Christmas it felt surreal. â€œWhat are you buying?â€ I asked, trying to sound lighthearted.
â€œScrapbooking supplies,â€ she answered.
â€œIâ€™m getting decorations for Annaâ€™s birthday cake,â€ I announced unasked.
A minute later we parted, still uncomfortable, still in a fight. Itâ€™s funny that we bumped into each other just then, how the universe keeps bringing us together like that. Did I ever tell you that I first met her weeks before my mom suddenly died? At the very moment when I needed a friend the most, she appeared.
When I was a kid, I never wanted a best friend. Something about the idea of having one freaked me out. Now I try to forego labels at all, instead just trying to be the best friend that I can. I think itâ€™s worked. Iâ€™ve done such a good job insinuating myself into her life, supplying the ingredients for fun, that she trusts me to be there all the time, not just for the everyday get-togethers, but for the birthdays, the holidays, all of it. Our friendship is such a success that she can believe that her semi-Jewish best friend will come to Christmas dinner at her house unannounced and without an invitation.
And when I canâ€™t be there? Well, this friend who never fails to surprise me, who had a whole secret life before the one she has now, who has had adventures, who has messed up and fixed herself, and who even used to own a pet lizard, well, she surprises me yet again. She stops speaking to me the week before Christmas.