So, today was pretty great. Via a post on that social networking site, I inadvertently outed myself as a lesbian. Now don’t get excited; I love the ladies, but I don’t love the ladies. But I once had a friendship that was so intense that writing about it now, it reads to the untrained eye as though I am reminiscing about an ex-lover and not a former BFF. I think that says a lot about my friendship with Zora.
I met Zora while she was working the desk at my gym. She was exotic looking and had a great weave and terrific clothes. I was immediately smitten. I’m quite shy and rather insecure – shocker, I know – so making new friends (and reconnecting with old ones) can at times be an anxiety-ridden exercise in futility for me. Especially if those potential friends are black women. I’m more used to being mercilessly teased or shunned by black women than befriending them. It’s a problem dating back to puberty, if not before. I don’t know what it is about me exactly and I don’t plan on using this particular post to try to figure it out, but I’ve
never rarely felt truly accepted by other black women. I’m sure many of you couch psychologists are tapping your chin and saying “Hmm. Must be something about her relationship with her mother.” Okay, sure. Parent blaming is easy and fun! Let’s just go with that for now. (Sorry, Mom.)
Anyway, I met Zora and was intrigued by her glasses-wearing, and constantly changing hairstyles, and chic clothing paired with a large, visible tattoo. After being weird for a few months, I eventually approached her and struck up a conversation that was more in-depth than the small talk she graciously initiated with me on a regular basis. My favorite musician of all time (except for maybe right now) had just released his first CD in eight years. I carried it with me everywhere I went, so sure I was that it would evaporate into the ether much like he had so many years ago. The majority of his fans are black women, so I nervously asked her if she was familiar with Maxwell while holding out my copy of the deluxe version of BLACKsummer’snight. Zora screamed and reached out for the CD as if I were presenting her with The Holy Grail and said “Am I familiar with Maxwell?!” and that was it. All of a sudden I had my first black female BFF in a very long time.
Zora and I were immediately inseparable. We spent so much time together that people assumed we were related. I guess I should have been suspicious that a grown woman – Zora was four years older than me – with a child was so willing to spend so much time with me so quickly, but I was excited by the attention and affection and acceptance and pushed any apprehensions I had about our very sudden connection from my mind. Finally, someone wanted to be with me all of the time! We worked out together, went shopping – even grocery shopping – together, ate together, slept together (no scissoring, though). If we weren’t together, she was just a phone call or a text away and she always answered. We were each other’s missing piece. No one understood me like Zora did and no one understood her like I did. I finally got to know what it was like to have a sister! Nothing could keep us apart! Well, not nothing. Zora sure did like the company of men.
During my first go at friendship with Zora, there was a new man around every month. Zora had a hard time getting rid of one before starting up with another, so there was always lots of juggling involved. It was all so exciting for me to watch. At first. I even attempted to set Zora up with an old friend of mine. It went really well, until it suddenly didn’t, and I cried with her and cried to my friend, begging him to call her again. I told him how much his rejection of Zora was hurting me. How could he do this to us? I felt responsible for her heartbreak and she went ahead and let me.
Our relationship was so intimate that we were bound to fight and hurt each other’s feelings. You always hurt the ones you love the most. Right? First, it started with her regularly snapping at me when she was in a bad mood related to yet another issue that had arisen between her and one of her admirers. Then, she’d start saying the most hurtful things to me about my own trouble with dating. And what was I guilty of? Well, I wasn’t expressing myself; Zora could never figure out what I wanted. I was aloof and mean. We’d go back and forth, screaming and crying, making up and buying each other things to show how sincere our apologies were. During an argument at a Maxwell concert sparked by a ridiculous misunderstanding, I challenged her to a fist fight. I saw Zora as every black girl who’d ever pulled my hair, said I was corny, that I wished I was white; as every black woman who made fun of my clothes, the way I spoke, the things I enjoyed and was interested in, and I had had it. It was me against every mean black female I’d ever encountered and Zora was just the unfortunate effigy. We did not come to fisticuffs, but my pre-fight trash talking was pretty bad ass, if I do say so myself. Zora would later tell the story and imply or flat-out admit that I had scared her. Hearing that
little old me had scared a tattooed, tough black girl from Brooklyn was all the vindication I needed. The incident brought us even closer together. For a little while.
We broke up the first time after she left me alone with a strange man after a night of clubbing. There’s quite a bit more to the story, but the bottom line was that though nothing happened to me, I was hurt and shocked that my Zora cared so little about my safety and well-being, all so she could get her rocks off with some guy she claimed to not even like. Things got ugly, and I returned every thoughtful gift she’d ever given to me by leaving them all in a paper bag at her front door. She called me heartless and told me to stay away from her. I told her she had nothing to worry about; I never wanted to see her again.
We’d been friends for less than a year, 11 months to be exact. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t make things work with her. It was all my fault. I was too needy and too demanding. Maybe I was even jealous of the terrible men that came in and out of her life; hell, no men were coming in and out of mine. Months went by and it was Christmas time. While doing some holiday shopping, I came across one store that was very creative in their decorating by using peacock feathers. Zora loved peacock feathers. I missed my friend. There wasn’t anyone else like her. We were perfect for each other. She wanted me around. She wanted me. I picked out a blank card adorned with feathers and wrote everything I felt. I told her how sorry I was, mailed it, and waited.
She got in touch with me by text message about a week later. She missed me too. She suggested that we meet at one of our favorite restaurants. I was so nervous; what would Zora think of my natural hair? Would she notice that I’d gained weight? Should I wear one of the outfits she helped me pick out? The dinner went off without a hitch. We started out catching up like old friends, making no mention of the fact that the last time we’d spoken to each other we’d sworn to never do so again. Eventually, things turned emotional. Zora mentioned how hurt she’d been by my rejection of her. She didn’t know what she’d done to make me so angry, but vowed that we’d never let something like that happen again. I had to promise to communicate my feelings and not hold them inside. I don’t remember whether or not I made her promise me anything. Dinner ended and she wondered if I wouldn’t mind doing her a favor. Could I follow her on a 45 mile trip that evening? She had to return her boyfriend’s car to the rental place in some other town, but first had to pick up the boyfriend’s car from another, other town. It’d mean so much to her if I could. That feeling of suspicion and apprehension that I had felt way back when started to creep up, but I told it to STFU, my BFF was back. BFFs do crazy shit for each other in the middle of the night after not speaking to each other for almost a year. And so it began.
Zora wooed me like an expert. We’d take day trips that she’d carefully planned to new cities and states and they were to this day the best dates I’ve been on. She knew my other friends never did that sort of thing and she made sure to remind me. She’d show up with unexpected gifts to let me know that she’d been thinking of me. She introduced me to her boyfriend and his entire family as her best, best friend. She got on me about my weight, so we’d cook healthy meals and exercise together. She was on soul duty, too, taking me to church with her on Sunday. I was practically living at her house and she wanted me to have a key to her place. She wanted me again and I was dizzy with infatuation.
I’m sure you can see where this is going, but I didn’t. Or maybe I didn’t want to. Zora would step out for “15 minutes” to have a talk with her boyfriend and not return for three hours, leaving me alone with her dog, who was an amazing little guy, and bewildered dinner guests. She’d tell me she was coming to pick me up to go on one of our dates, so I’d make myself even more unavailable to my other friends and wait by the phone for calls that never came. She needed to borrow my laptop, my vacuum cleaner, my crock pot, my DVD player, all to cater to her demanding, finicky, and mysterious boyfriend. I was growing more angry and resentful by the day. I was a BFF scorned. And Zora was going to hear about it.
After waiting for her, yet again, having been forgotten about for hours, she called me, giddy about something the boyfriend had done or said, though the last time we spoke, which was during a rare date I was on, she was in tears about his cruel treatment of her. I decided that that was it. This was my time to communicate. I mean, I’d promised her that I would. This was for the sake of our friendship! I got out maybe half a sentence before she hung up on me.
She refused to take my calls, so I left her hysterical, enraged voice mail messages. How dare she ignore me? How dare she leave me waiting for hours, only to tell me about spending time with that guy like nothing had happened at all? Wasn’t I enough for her? We had made promises! I had made promises! I was only doing what she asked! She sent me text messages in response, telling me that I was crazy, that I was angry, that I was nasty and hateful. She couldn’t understand why I hated her so much. I responded by telling her I was done and that I wanted my shit. She threatened to leave my things out on the street. I threatened to tape her key along with her name, address, and bra size to a men’s public bathroom wall. I didn’t really; I was only creative enough to threaten to throw her belongings in the dumpster outside my building. That was about a year ago, and I haven’t seen or heard from Zora since.
I initially decided to title this post “Constant Craving” as a play on the whole being mistaken for a lesbian thing since the song to some is/was the lesbian theme song, sung by the lesbian of lesbians, k.d. lang. Reading and thinking back on my relationship with Zora, I can see why one would think I was involved in a romantic relationship with her. The gifts! The jealousy! The time spent! The feelings! The promises! The only thing we were missing was sex.
I decided to keep the title because I can acknowledge that my relationship with Zora shows that I have, ahem, a constant craving. Not for delectable fish tacos, but for companionship. For a relationship filled with understanding. For a friend that I share cultural/ethnic/racial similarities and comprehension with. For someone to desire my presence a hell of a lot. For someone to make me feel like I might be Number One in their life. For someone to make me feel wanted. For someone to want me. I don’t think my constant craving for those things makes me unusual nor does the fact that I fell so hard and fast for a person that I thought was able to offer me those things in a platonic way. They’ve never been offered to me romantically, not even as a ruse to ultimately get sex. But that’s for another post.
Zora is not to blame for our two failed attempts at friendship. She was right; I was angry a lot of the time. I was aloof and wouldn’t or couldn’t communicate. I think I was jealous, not of the men (I already told you, I’m not a lesbian), but of the fact that she got men so easily, even if at great personal cost. I was probably too demanding, but it’s hard to feel like you’re Number One and be suddenly and repeatedly demoted. But friendship can’t give you everything. Which sort of means I’m screwed if things don’t change for me very fast.
I miss Zora, I truly do. She made me feel special in a way that few other people ever have. She was creative and warm and loving and generous. We went on wonderful adventures together and even when we were just hanging out, we still had a great time. I miss her so much that it hurts. I won’t be sending her any more sparkly peacock cards, though. As much as our friendship brought out the best in each other, it seemed to bring out the worst in us in equal measure. I’m still not entirely sure why. I hope someday that I’ll feel as loved and as cherished as Zora made me feel when times were good. I’d be a lucky girl if I could feel that again in friendship and in romance. Or maybe I need to learn to not crave so much so deeply, so constantly. I’m pretty proud of myself for being able to both admit that I miss my friend and that it’s not a smart thing for us to be together. I’m not even angry at her or about the situation anymore. Not really.
Though if I’m going to be perfectly honest, it does piss me the hell off that bitch still has my crock pot. Damn. Ain’t no song for that.