April 9, 2010
Revenge is baby girl pink
When we planted our double flowering cherry tree 20 years ago, it was a little thing, just 3.5 foot tall. It looked lonely in the middle of our lawn. I had ordered it from Wayside Gardens as the catalog promised early spring buds on a relatively small tree. It’s called “double flowering” not because of the blossoms, but that it flowers in April and if the weather is agreeably warm, again in the fall although with fewer blooms. Psychologically, I needed a flowering tree outside the living room window, something to delight after long, gray, winter months.
My then BFF (I’ll call her Y) and her husband G had purchased a house further down our street. G laughed at our tree, telling the neighbors that we had planted a stick, like we were gardening rubes. His neighbors were our neighbors, and although they were not right-next-door neighbors, we were the brunt of G’s little joke with them. This ticked me off, and as months went by, I realized that G just did not like us much, even though we had been Matron of Honor and Best Man at their wedding. Even though I gave the decision-breaking recommendation that landed Y the job she held at a large public agency where she had a high profile, made lots of contacts, even more money, and had met G.
G was subtle in his antipathy toward us. We got together often, more than once a week, and he made certain he was always late by a good half-hour. It wasn’t that his job was tumultuous; he wasn’t an ER trauma doc for God’s sake, but an engineer. The projects he worked on weren’t lifesaving, and no one was going to die if he left the office at 5:30 on a Wednesday. Still, he was consistently late, rushing into the bar, breathlessly spilling an explanation about his tardiness. It got to be old quickly.
Maybe he felt out of place, as Y, Bill and I were in marketing and talked about our work a lot. A few years earlier, Bill had been the Creative Director for the ad agency who handled the large public agency where both Y and G were employed so he knew the inner machinations and could offer advice. My job at the time came with all sorts of perks, like theatre, event, and big arena concert tickets, and I always made sure they got a pair.
During this time, I was on the Board of a lyric opera company which performed in the summer with outdoor intermission dinners. We’d pack an elaborate picnic or purchase catered meals, quite sumptuous. Thinking that Y and G might also enjoy a little bel canto, we invited them to subscribe when we re-upped. They did, and must have enjoyed the hell out of the experience because the next year, G invited a couple they knew to join them, and left us in the dust.
The clincher that broke my heart and our friendship was when they moved to a state in the northeast corner of the U.S. map. Over a number of months, both Y and G traveled for multiple interviews, secured new jobs, and house-hunted — without saying a word to us until a month before they moved. How could a best friend treat a best friend like a stranger?
Looking at our 25-foot-tall cherry tree now is sometimes bittersweet. I remember my closeness to Y, how we’d gossip and laugh, give each other professional and personal counsel, share our miseries and our moments of triumph, sing Patsy Cline songs together. And I mourn how our friendship soured, and how Y allowed a man to turn it.
We had liked them both so very much. She was the sister I never had and Bill was hoping for a guy friend to hang with. We believed we’d share our lives, grow old together as a foursome.
But the cherry tree doesn’t know any of this. Every April, right on time, it’s an exquisite haze that gives me joy. Revenge can be sweet, and delicate baby girl pink.