~Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Relationship Status: It's Complicated

I still see my core group of friends about once a month when we attend one of our pre-planned trips out of town. Facebook tells me that in between the couples are attending movies and going out to dinners. There isn't any animosity among us; we just haven't been as close as we once were. At one point I would have called Government Mule and Jenna my best friends, now not so much.

Schmoozer is the only person who consistently keeps up with me, which shocks me because I've known him the least amount of time. Not only does he respond to every text and return every phone call, but he also wakes me up early Saturday mornings with offerings of breakfast and e-mails me during the week for lunch and/or a running partner. We ran a 5k together a couple of weeks ago and then attended a city festival.

As we walked through the park, I spied a swing set. "Swings, Schmoozer!" I cried. "When was the last time you were on a swing?" I handed him my beer and my purse as I sprinted towards the set and climbed on. I pumped my legs as I soared higher and higher in the air, noting that swinging requires more abdominal muscles than I remembered. Children abandoned the other swings as I gave it my all.

"You're scaring the children away!" he shouted after me.

I wanted to jump off mid-swing and feel like I was flying, just as I used to when I was little, but I was scared.

Schmoozer and a bystander encouraged me and I jumped off and landed on my feet. I did a curtsy and then returned to Schmoozer. Two grown men then took up the swings.

"Did you see that? I just made swinging cool," I cheered.

Schmoozer laughed and was silent for a beat. He opened his mouth and expressed doubts for the first time about Katie. We don't do this; we don't talk about her. My friendship with Schmoozer is strictly about the two of us.

He said he likes to get out and do things and explore places. "I hate TV," he said. She, however, is a bit of a homebody. She was supposed to run the race with us that day, but she didn't buy her number in time. Then she was supposed to watch us run and go to the festival with us, but she couldn't get out of Schmoozer's bed. I tried to locate her at noon and she was still asleep.

"She said she's pretty much where she wants to be for the rest of her life," he said. "Her family is here and she has no desire to leave." Schmoozer has lived in three major cities and has plans to leave our city in three to four years.

"You're still going to be here for several years. Who knows what is going to happen between now and then?" I said.

"I know. But I told my mom where I was going today and she told me it would be a good place to get some girls' phone numbers. She said, 'You're not going to marry that girl, are you?'"

"Whoa."

"Right?"

Then we found a hookah station giving free samples and Schmoozer taught me how to smoke tobacco. The conversation was forgotten.

A couple of weeks later, Schmoozer, Katie, Swayze and I were sharing a hotel room for my thirtieth birthday. We had traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the weekend. It was Easter morning. Swayze snuck out early to return home for familial obligations. Schmoozer wanted to go exploring and find some coffee.

Katie reluctantly got out of bed and made it a block before she abandoned us and returned to bed. It was just Schmoozer and me walking through the town, waiting for everyone else to wake up and meet us for lunch. And because it was such a small town as well as Easter morning, the streets were empty. It felt like the apocalypse had occurred. Not a single car was parked along the street and not a single business was open. The only time we saw people was when they scurried to the church doors.

We eventually found a heathen Starbucks open inside another hotel and we grabbed our coffees and pounded the pavement. We spoke to a man in his bathrobe, a woman dressed in Civil War garb and a guy tying his necktie on his way to church. We found an elevator going up a steep hill for the handicapped and we crossed the half-mile footpath bridge going over the Tennessee River. On the other side, we stumbled upon a preacher speaking in an amphitheatre behind a steamboat and hundreds upon hundreds of people sitting on the grass in their Easter best listening to him.

By the time we met up with Katie for lunch (she was still asleep and we had to wake her to meet us), we had walked over 6 miles and burned over 2,000 calories. "I can't believe she missed all of this!" he frowned. We sipped our Cokes and planned a trip to Portland and Seattle in the summer to do much as we had that morning.

At times I feel like his stand-in girlfriend, the one he does stuff with when the real one isn't present. But the difference in which he treats us is night and day. With me he's tough and loud and boisterous and with Katie everything is softer: his voice, his touch, his spirit. The gentleness of his interaction with her illustrates his feelings for her. It's just he's never expressed anything about her, and now he has and it happens to be hesitation. Katie is one of my dearest friends, and I feel like I'm in a really awkward position knowing this kind of information.

21 comments:

Northern lass said...

You ARE his stand-in girlfriend.

J said...

Ahhh. This is a tough spot to be in and I agree that he is putting you in the stand-in girlfriend role.

It'll be interesting to see how their relationship pans out- it seems like a big fundamental difference to have to overcome, but who knows.

Je m'appelle Danielle said...

I agree with Northern Lass, you are the stand in. If your having fun and don't feel used, then take it for what it is and don't let it slow you down.

Brittany said...

You live such an interesting life! I envy you. I am a total Katie. Nothing is interesting for me before 11 am, besides pillows and sheets.

breezyallatsea said...

This is a tough role to have. Have fun and keep getting out there!

La Femme said...

Jeez Katie, wake up and smell the morning! I love sleeping in more than anything, but on vacation when everyone else is out having fun? Sleep when you're dead!

nuttycow said...

Don't you find it slightly concerning that Katie sleeps the whole time? Not very healthy. But anyway...

If you're having a good time then enjoy it. If you're not, then chat to him about it.

PS I prefer the name Kickball Guy!

Syd said...

It's not your fault, though. You didn't ask these questions of him, he revealed the information to you. He's a grown up, and he should be having this conversation with Katie. He'll have to, eventually.

But yeah, it does sound like she's doing a hell of a lot of sleeping. I get laziness, but it doesn't sound like it's part of her character - she lost a bucket of weight and owns a home, right? To accomplish that, there's got to be some energy level/source of motivation.

Anonymous said...

Katie reinforces my image of young, single homeowners being boring.

Lea said...

You're reading too much into it. You're not a "stand in girlfriend", you're a friend. And when he's doing that stuff with you he's wishing it was her. The only thing you should be doing is encouraging Katie to get out more, or encouraging them to work together to find a happy medium. It's sinister of you to refer to yourself as his stand in girlfriend, and that is what would hurt Katie.

Anonymous said...

What line did Schmoozer cross that made you think he was treating you like a girlfriend and not a friend? Friends talk about their insecurities in a relationship, friends do things they both enjoy together, etc... If he were inviting you to intimate events for just you two then I'd worry about it. As of now, you seem to be with groups of people or exercising in public places together. Telling Katie that her boyfriend is expressing his hesitancy about their relationship (at that moment) is only going to make Katie not want you to spend time with her boyfriend.

Anonymous said...

I've always had the sense that you think you've stepped aside to let Katie have Kickball Guy but you didn't. He chose her not you. Your read on this does seem to be a bit shady and if I were Katie I would be way more worried about what kind of person you might be then worried about occasional doubts that Kickball Guy has seem all people have those in long term relationships and she probably has them about him.

Bathwater said...

I agree with you he is treating you as the stand in girlfriend. Tink used to treat me as the stand in boyfriend. So I know exactly what you mean.

This is a problem with his relationship that he needs to address.

bonda84 said...

Don't feel sinister about not getting in the middle of this. I've opened my mouth to two friends regarding their relationship woes before and have usually wound up being the bad guy. Whatever is up with Schmoozer and Katie will have to be worked out between the two of them. As is, just keep on having fun like you have been and being their friend.

Sarah said...

Oh dear, apparently I didn't do a good job of writing this up.

I didn't mean anything negative by the term "stand-in girlfriend." I'm not bothered by it. I just think planning vacations and going to festivals and exploring cities is something to do with a girlfriend, not a girl friend.

I've felt very uncomfortable with how to proceed in my friendship with Schmoozer because I love both parties involved, especially Katie. I don't want to cross any lines or have too close a friendship or do anything that would make her feel uncomfortable. I've even discussed this with her. This is why I've always appreciated us not talking about her. Now I'm purposely hiding info from her because I feel it would be inappropriate to get in the middle, and it just makes me feel and dirty and grimy inside.

Sorry, I fail at life today.

bupkiss said...

I don't think you can ever know another person's relationship, even with one of your closest friends. It's such a private thing. So an offhand remark about something someone's frustrated with... it's only a snippet. I wouldn't worry that he's confided some deep thing to you and you're keeping a secret. Don't worry, they'll work it out between themselves.

Anonymous said...

I think he is treating you as a friend. Like any friend that talks to a friend about problems, or their feelings. Just like I talk to my friends about problems.

As far as Katie liking alot of sleep. Hell, I sleep most of my weekends, all weekend long. Nothing gets done. I think it is because I a number one, tired. Number two, I think I am a tad depressed, so, that leads to tons of sleeping. Oh, and number three, I have the best bed in the universe to sleep in. Hugs.

Red Stethoscope said...

I disagree that he's just treating you like a friend. There is an emotional bond that grows when you do things like early, morning quiet explorations. So, if that's what you were hinting at with the stand-in girlfriend reference than yes, I'd agree with that (whether or not it's positive or negative). As for what to do about it? You're in such a hard position and I don't really know! I think that since Katie is your friend, be a good listener to him, but don't get involved. I do wonder if he secretly wishes sometimes that you were his girlfriend sometimes, though. He's the one who told you, after all, that he was having doubts...and seemed to mention her less spontaneous personality in comparison to yours.

Angela said...

I wondered if Katie is depressed, too.

Anonymous said...

One thing is clear:

Katie's description on the sidebar should be changed. It sounds as though - at least lately - she is anything but "active".

Amber said...

It sounds like Katie is suffering from depression...

 

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