See, they couldn’t handle me.
That’s why when Tommy and I divorced they called me a whoring drug addict and ditched me. They were more euphemistic, but not by much: a lying drug addict. Lying though was just whoring it out for whore. Who wants to be friends with someone with so many “issues”? Depression is a bitch. Friendship doesn’t have any real meaning. It’s just a social convention we create in our minds to not feel so alone. When really, we’re all just alone.
So I had an affair. So I left a “great” guy. So I use cocaine recreationally on the weekends. So I like a glass of champagne—a bottle. So what?
“You’re probably on anti-anxiety meds right now,” Stacy said to me at Melanie’s wedding, tears on my freckled face like a wet giraffe. I was in fact. Damn! Those pills really make me weak with the booze. I took another sip from my flute—nothing like champagne with a few drops of magical salty tears. But this wasn’t a fairytale. I’m talking the real magic stuff: drowning in my beautiful pool of numbness. “You’re a drug addict, Paige” she finished. Since when did anti-anxiety meds make you a drug addict? I was drunk and inconsolable. But then again, no one tried to console me so I could have been: consolable, that is.
I could have been.
Did I mention that Melanie had kicked me out of her wedding party only weeks before the affair? So no longer a bridesmaid, my new duty at the wedding was social pariah meets convalescent meets object of pity.
She called me soberly one warm September afternoon, a few days after we returned from her bachelorette party in Napa: “Paige? This is just so hard for me.” I told her she had to do what she had to do. “You have a problem,” she said. “My sister told me you asked a bartender in Napa for coke. I saw you go into the bathroom with some guy. I’m not an idiot, Paige.” Okay. All’s fair. And what of it? “I feel like I don’t know you anymore.” They all said things like this. But what about college when Melanie was slinging coke with her then boyfriend and Stacy was blowing through bags at her sorority house like a grocery store checkout clerk? Did you know me then, when we were all using the same stuff? I was mature though and comforted her as she cried over the phone. When the call ended I died for days.
Can’t believe I made it to the wedding even. Melanie seemed angry when I declined to attend the rehearsal dinner, but I didn’t belong there. They were right. I wasn’t anything like them. I wouldn’t have thrown them in the street, metaphorically, in the midst of a brutal divorce and dizzying life crisis. I wouldn’t have judged them for drinking too much or using cocaine or seeming “not themselves” or marrying too young and seeking desperately to feel loved in the dark, metaphorical of course, in graduate school while their husbands talked money in a distant state, (literally!). Were they fucking serious? My life was upside down. And maybe it was all my fault, but it was still traumatizing and heart-rending, and I was alone. But I figured something out after Melanie’s call, and it only solidified after I was treated like an invalid by her sister and parents at the wedding, after Stacy made her proclamation that night ending our friendship: I had always been alone.
Stacy started to cry. “I feel like I’ve lost a best friend.” Then she rolled her wet eyes and got up, leaving me at the cocktail table in the corner of the ballroom. I looked out into the crowd and saw Melanie’s mother point at me. She shook her head, disgraced by my very presence—the capitalized Adulterous. The wedding glitz—the candles and chandeliers and crystal stemware and velvet Merlot—shimmered under my glossed gaze. I tried to suppress the hiccups between alcohol-induced overly emotional sobs. I fished my hand in my clutch for my scripts, popped a Valium and washed it down with the rest of the signature cocktail: hints of lemony gin and Pimm’s in dry champagne. I ran outside into the freezing November air. Who gets married by the sea in November in New England? Rich people. My rabbit coat caught on my beaded dress. Dammit—not my rabbit! It was my favorite fur—matched everything.
I called for my ride. Dad and Robby, my damned partner in the whole affair, pulled up in the old Mercedes. “Let’s score some blow,” I said to Robby as if my dad wasn’t there. But he wasn’t really there, all fucked up on synthetic marijuana, which flowed through the body more like heroine. My voice was all nasally; words streamed through a broken smile, trying so hard to curl upward without twitching an eye. I kissed Robby, my lipstick crusted with dried tears and clear snot. I had looked so beautiful brushing on my mascara only hours ago. I always looked so beautiful.
I still cry when I think about how it all ended. Like the other day at the spa, soaking in a pool of foreign salt waters with alleged healing powers: I cried.
Rebeka Singer writes, works and teaches in her native Providence, RI. She received her MFA in Creative Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College in May 2012. Her work recently appeared in Eclectica Magazine.