Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An encounter with friends from my past… at Walmart… with no makeup

So there I was in Walmart, looking like shit, feeling like shit. I’d been sick for the last six days. Plus I had a huge rash on the left side of my nose because I ran out of Kleenex and started using toilet paper. Not good, my friends, not good.

But I had to pick up a few things so my little one could have something to put in her lunchbox the next day. I was whipping through the aisles trying to finish my shopping when I saw them.

Friends from my old life… my married life… married friends who were still together, family unit intact.  

Did I mention I looked like shit? Well, let me paint you a picture. I don’t have any makeup on and I’m wearing my hear “au natural,” which means after a blow dry, I did not style it in any way, shape or form. My daughter would later ask, “Man, what happened to your hair?”  

Not even this good...
But I digress…

This couple had started dating shortly after my ex and I met, and we eventually attended each other’s weddings. Later, we’d go out as couples – movies, dancing, meet at other people’s weddings. Our oldest kids’ went to school together. Our youngest kids’ had been in Girl Scouts together.

I hadn’t seen them or talked to them since before the separation. To be honest, I avoided these kinds of friends (couples) like the plague after the separation. I just couldn’t bear it. To see them hand in hand with kids in tow would’ve sent me over the edge. And I wasn’t ready to field the inevitable questions.

“What happened?”

“Are you OK?”

“Who gets the house?”

To help me avoid them, I stopped going to church (there were other reasons), stopped attending Girl Scout meetings and ignored Facebook friend requests from several of the moms.  

As we spotted each other, me at one end of the paper goods aisle (where they keep the Kleenex) and them at the other end, I could see the look in the wife’s eyes. That look said, “Oh, poor thing, there she is, grocery shopping all by her lonesome, now divorced and a single mom.”

OK, so maybe I was reading way too much into it, but there was definitely some pity in her eyes. And it pissed me off!

“You know, right? That’s why you’re looking at me like that. I can see the way you’re looking at me. Why are you looking at me like that?” I say to the wife (with every ounce of paranoia that you are sensing while reading this.)  

She then pulled me into her arms and gave me a huge hug. (OK, I’m not that pissed or paranoid anymore, just somewhat annoyed.  But the hug sure feels nice!)

“We know what? What is it that we know? What is she talking about?” says the husband. He was clueless. We filled him in. He was shocked at two things:
1.       That we had divorced.
2.       That his wife never told him.

She then explained to her husband:
1.       “Of course they’re divorced. She’s too good for him. Everybody knew that.” (They did?)
2.       “I don’t tell you everything."

She explained that she had wanted to call several times, but she just didn’t know what to say. She said she was glad we ran into each other and that she could tell I was in a good place (despite me coughing up a lung on aisle 9).

She also said something very interesting. She said she knew I had tried. She said she saw it in my eyes every time she saw us together and the many times she saw me alone, but she never saw it from him.  

As she’s talking, I start to wonder…   
1.      Why did it take ME so long to figure out what everyone else already knew?
2.      How could she keep a juicy piece of news like this from her husband for over a year? (Damn, girl!)  

We went on with some chit chat, updating each other about our kids, work and what not. As she hugged me good-bye, she promised to keep in touch.

I hope she does…   


  1. I love this story about how assumptions can be a barrier to real support (or at least a good-feeling hug in Aisle 9!). I've been making a lot of assumptions about someone lately and this is a good reminder that I should take a longer look. I can't believe you were so in-her-face at the beginning! You go, girl!

  2. I have had those moments in the supermarket where I deliberately turn down another aisle!

  3. I love it that you didn't run away. You are brave... and it payed off! She sounds like someone who would be a really good friend-- there are some things in life we have to figure out for ourselves and if she would have mentioned what she saw, you may have taken the defensive and it would have ended the friendship in a bad way.

  4. Awww. This gave me a lump in my throat. Girlfriends gotta stick together!!!

    I love that she was so accepting and supportive. That's the type of friend you keep.

    And why did everyone else know and you didn't? I've said that a few times about my last relationship too...

  5. I love this. I too got the "we wondered how long it would take you" from lots of people AFTER the fact. Nobody ever mentions it before. ;) Not that we would have listened...but still.

    This is a wonderful post.
    I feel you deeply on this!

  6. Great story! Just goes to show we really can't read minds and we should stop trying. Thanks for sharing.