I pulled up to Chanell’s house around 1:00 pm. Her corner house was beautifully decorated, newly remodeled, and I was impressed by how quickly she had unpacked. She had only been living in the house for about one month but it already felt like a cozy home. I was nervous and excited at the same time since I hadn’t seen her in five years.
Chanell and I met at work about seven years ago. We were both supervisors and we quickly became friends. At that time, she only lived about two miles from me in Long Beach so we’d meet up for happy hour, or just to hang out.
Chanell is intelligent, fun, caring, and hilarious. She made me laugh all the time with her comedic timing and facial expressions. We had so many fun times together in Long Beach.
Within that first year of our friendship, she got engaged to her boyfriend, Matt. I was delighted when she asked if I would be a bridesmaid in her wedding. Three weeks before the wedding, the bridal party went to San Luis Obispo (about four hours north of Long Beach) for the bachelorette party weekend.
We took the train there, went wine tasting in a limo, and had a nice dinner. It had been a great time, until Chanell and I ended up getting into a fight. The fight led to me sleeping in the other room, and taking a taxi at 6:00 am the next morning to the train station to go back home, alone.
I felt like I had ruined her party and upset her, and I didn’t want to ruin the next day too. I cried the entire way home, feeling heartbroken.
After several emails back and forth, we hadn’t solved anything. We had tried to explain our side of the story to each other – things that had built up over the previous couple of months, but we hadn’t been able to see each other’s side.
I didn’t go to the wedding and was upset about it for weeks. I had dreams about the incident because I was stressed, knowing that our friendship had dissolved – and dissolved so quickly.
Five years had gone by but I would still think about her from time to time. I heard through mutual friends she had moved around a little because her husband is in the Navy. They also had two kids. It made me remember that at one point, we talked about having kids at the same time so they could grow up together.
Then this past June, Chanell sent me a message saying a mutual friend had informed her of my upcoming adventure. She now lived in Mount Vernon, Washington and she offered me a place to stay and a friendly face. It worked out perfectly because it’s only about an hour and a half from Seattle and was on the way to Vancouver, British Columbia.
She apologized for how things ended and said she valued our friendship. I had been surprised to hear from her but I took her up on her offer to stay with her and her family. I was nervous upon arriving because I didn’t know if things would be awkward and I’d be meeting her kids for the first time, she had a 1-1/2 and 3-1/2 year old.
When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised when we talked as if no time had passed. She showed me around her new house, which was clean and modern. Her kids are absolutely adorable, sweet children, and it was such a joy to meet them.
The heat wave continued and they didn’t have air conditioning so we did what we could to stay cool. Hanging out by the large ceiling fan in the living room and drinking lots of ice water, we spent time relaxing and laughing.
Chanell cooked a delicious crockpot roast dinner and I updated her and Matt on my life over the last five years – my divorce, buying and selling a house, and quitting my job. She updated me on the places they’ve lived, their experience being Airbnb hosts, and the news that she was a few months pregnant! Unfortunately, she was feeling very nauseous.
After dinner and hanging out with the family, Chanell and I watched some episodes of the new season of Orange is the New Black. It felt so good to reconnect with her. It reminded me how much I valued having her friendship, and had missed her presence in my life.
We both apologized for how things ended but didn’t talk about what happened in detail. We both seemed to realize we’d played a part in the dissolution of our friendship and had both been in the wrong. Looking back, we definitely could’ve handled things differently.
Thinking about this incident made me think about issues I’d had in my marriage. It led me to understand something about myself, that I’m a runner. I always thought I was someone that would stay and fight when it came to “fight or flight” situations because I love a good debate.
But the truth is, when there is true conflict, I choose flight. Conflict terrifies me and I run. I don’t like upsetting other people and discussing my feelings is very hard for me. In debates, it’s not usually about me personally so it’s much easier to discuss. Going forward, I’m going to work at confronting my feelings with other people, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Time and life experiences changed us. I discovered that while friends fight and sometimes friendships end, there can also be reconciliation. There are often other stresses involved in someone’s life when a friendship falls apart. Sometimes we need to learn to let go. But other times, the friendship is worth repairing.
I’m grateful that Chanell reached out to me and I had a great time catching up with her. She made me laugh, as always, and it was nice to see her friendly face before continuing on with my solo adventure. I left her warm house feeling content with the lessons I had learned about myself and at having rediscovered someone I had thought I had lost.