October 10, 2016 — Mario is scheduled to visit New York at the end of the month. The trip coincides nicely with a happy hour I’m planning for my new employees. In a gesture of friendship, I invite Jake and his girlfriend Erin, as well as my good friend Emma, who I view as my bestie (since we suffered through our respective divorces together).
Emma is turning 40 this month and I coordinate a birthday party for her with some single moms in the city. Things go well and I figure her meeting Mario will help clear out questions about my judgement and about this new relationship (he seems to be a unicorn that shouldn’t exist).
The custom present I order for Emma arrives. I text her and ask if she’s coming to the happy hour, so I can plan to bring her gift. Suddenly, I find myself reading an angry-worded text from her. She accuses me of causing too much drama in her life. She says that all the lies I told during my last relationship — when I was lying to myself and enabling an alcoholic — have left her drained of energy and distrustful of me. She thinks I’m crazy to have a work happy hour that involves Mario and Jake.
I feel blindsided. I’m angry: I was the victim of his violence, not her. But, I own that I lied to everyone and enabled him. I apologize. Still, that was nine months ago. Emma wasn’t there when I was crying under my desk. She wasn’t there for all the painful moments and personal struggles. I beg her to talk to me about it. I ask that she be present, as my friend, so that if my judgement is off this time she can tell me. She refuses to talk. More hurtful to me yet, she says she’ll talk to me in a few weeks and maybe we can stick to superficial issues, like “business and the divorce industry.”
She breaks my heart. I feel insignificant. I thought we were better friends than this. I was there for her during her divorce. I don’t understand and this seems to come from left-field. Jake isn’t very gracious about it: “She’s only your friend when you are more miserable than her. She wants a buddy to single gal around with and validate her anti-marriage beliefs, and now you are into something serious,” he quips. “Personally, I can see you are happy in a way I’ve never seen before.” Then he adds, “And I’ve always thought Emma is a miserable bitch.”
Mario encourages me not to write her off. “I can see how special her friendship is to you,” he says. “Give it some time and try again. I can always meet her next time.” We discuss how hurt I feel. I leave her a voicemail.
Meanwhile, one day I come home and I’m talking to Mario on the phone in the car. Suddenly there’s banging on my car window. My ex-boyfriend is screaming at me: “Who is Mario?” he yells through the window. I’m confused. I haven’t told him anything about dating. We’ve kept our communications to our daughter for this reason. “Your boys told me he’s a great artist,” he says. “So you’re going to marry him aren’t you!” He storms off with a wild look in his eyes.
Then the impossible happens: Jake calls me because my ex-boyfriend is texting him! Never in the last four years would he talk to Jake. He forbid Jake from coming in the house. Jake says he’s raw and confused. Erin says the whole thing makes no sense because the break-up happened in February and this is October! Finally, after a flurry of text messages, including some with the ex- texting Mario directly, we set a time for him and Mario to meet.
On Mario’s side of the street, not all is calm either. His ex-wife, who has a history of serious drug problems, is pregnant with another man’s child. She’s frantic to finalize their divorce (they’ve been separated for years but he only recently filed the paperwork). She’s planning on getting remarried in November. Because of her history, he’s got sole custody of their kids. He’s nervous about this rapid remarriage and new baby negatively impacting the kids.
Great. I thought I was done with drama. Guess no one else got the memo.