Please forgive me or I’ll give you another lizard for Christmas

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. “I’m sorry,” 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.

“Hi,” 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.

“Hi,” 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. “What are you buying?” I asked, trying to sound lighthearted.

“Scrapbooking supplies,” she answered.

“I’m getting decorations for Anna’s birthday cake,” I announced unasked.

A minute later we parted, still uncomfortable, still in a fight. It’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 it’s worked. I’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 can’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.