Here is Part 3 of the Flight of the Heart Sob Story. We join Izzy and Casey in progress. If you want to start at the beginning, you'll have to scroll down abit. But that's not necessary--as a not-so-objective observer who loves them both--I can assure you that these two can stand on their own just fine, thank you.
I would have flunked friend school. This is because I have a very simplistic view of friendship. If you’re my friend, that’s all there is to it. If you call me, or ask me, or need me, I’ll be there. But I won’t ask this in return because it makes me too vulnerable. But you won’t know this because I am very very smooth at looking wise and centered.
This is a method of deflection that has worked for me since 11th grade, when my wimpy boyfriend broke up with me 6 weeks before the Junior Prom. I never let on that I was prepared to cry the entire evening from the vantage point of my pathetic twin bed. Instead, I concocted some story that was so sad and so compelling—I can’t remember a word of it or I would tell you—that I glided on sympathy and skated around the truth so skillfully it was almost as if I went to the prom after all. Which I didn’t.
So this is the first reason I would flunk friend school. I don’t open up. I just pretend to. And then there’s another reason: I don’t keep in touch. I figure once you’ve made it to my closest friend list, that alone is a whopping deposit into the closest friend bank account.
You might think I lack friends because of these shortcomings. Not really: most just adapt to me and cut me some slack .
“Hello Casey”, the answering machine says, “This is Nick. It’s Tuesday September 18th at 8:27 pm. Would you call me back by Friday?”
“Oh Nick”, I think to myself, “I wish you told me why by Friday”. I don’t know that Nick developed this approach years ago to try to pin me down. I also don’t know he will call me once more before he leaves the following message:
“Hello Casey, this is your friend Nick. I’m calling to make plans for dinner. I have three dates that will work for me: September 17, which was yesterday, September 23, which is my birthday, and September 24, which the only Sunday I have open until Thanksgiving. I have my book in front of me, Casey. I’m asking you to call me either tonight or tomorrow.”
My approach to friendship unexpectedly changed one day when I told my friend Lucy that I loved her. I didn’t actually say it like that: more or less I added it at the end of a request for a local plumber. I said it quickly and smiled:
“Thanks, Lucy. Love you”
“Love you too Casey”, Lucy said.
That was the beginning. I was judicious but not withholding. “I love you.” I would say. “I love you too, Casey” a voice would say back. I liked it. Even my two guy friends Nick and Eddie said it back. I can’t tell you what prompted all this, but I liked it. It felt like fuel.
This is my history and the framework from which I began my friendship with Izzy. At first I would sign my emails to her, “Yours truly”. Sometimes I’d say “See you later alligator, and occasionally I would say “Love” by itself. I didn’t start saying “I love you” until one day on the phone I just did. And Izzy said “I love you too”.
Probably because of the long distance between Phoenix and Western Massachusetts, probably because we could not use hugs or hands or smiling eyes to get across our points and affections, Izzy and I got in the habit of saying “I love you” regularly.
But one day, while I’m walking my dog and Izzy is on the other end of my cell phone, she said, “Casey, you say that too much.”
I was flabbergasted. I was crushed. I didn’t dare ask what she meant. Instead I said,
“Ok, Izzy, you’ll have to beg before I tell you I love you again."
“Fine” she said.
Two days later I sent her the following email:
“Dear Izzy, I just wanted you to know I would now say what I would say if I weren’t saying it because you asked me not to.”
Her response was quick: “You mean to say you wanted to tell me what you wanted to say if you did not say that you were not going to say it?”
This woman is sharp. My follow-up email was as follows:
"I do not like it at all that it seems I give in and give up before you do. You should be asking and pleading by now."
All I got back was a smiley face—the one with a colon for the eyes, hyphen for the nose and parenthesis for the mouth.
I replied immediately:
“I’m holding out. You think I won’t but I will. I can’t have you thinking I fold so easily. Not even x’s and o’s until further notice."
Izzy, my free wheeling free spirit friend who once assured me I wasn’t high maintenance as long as I wasn’t neglected, then said,
“This is going to be a lot of fun. I’ll see if you can last a year!”