The Wheel Turns

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Crimes to the Third Degree.

A lot of my friends moved last year, either to marry or for job opportunities. When I say a lot, I mean most of them. I don’t blame them—the Wheel turns and provides narrow windows of opportunity, and you take them or you lose them, perhaps for good.

Flying By Night novelIt reminds me of the Tarot card, The Wheel of Fortune, also known as the Wheel of Life. It’s about Destiny and Movement and Chance and Opportunity and Nothing Stays the Same.

Things change, for good or for bad, and the chance to move doesn’t last for long or else things move on without you.

I still hear from Jillian on a regular basis, and miss our Chinese lunches and her too-loud conversations in public places about her sexcapades, real or imagined. But I haven’t been back to D.C. recently, so I’m not sure when I’ll see her again. She always reminded me of the kid sister I never had.

Others, I hear from occasionally, regularly, or not at all. Sometimes it’s easier to try to forget your old life entirely when you start over. Just less painful that way. They jump on that Wheel and ride it, never looking back…though one day it may come around again. Or it may not.

The Wheel turns, and I have the opportunity for a weekend trip in connection with a workshop. It happens to be within a 20-minute drive of an old friend, a very dear platonic friend I haven’t seen in what seems like forever, a friend who’s given me an open invitation to stop in any time I’m ever in his neck of the woods.

I call to say, Hey, remember me? I’m in town next weekend and would love to have lunch with you if you can spare the time, and hey, you’ve got to eat anyway, right?

I offer to drive to his office and meet him for lunch there or close to his house for a visit, to make it as convenient as possible.

That’s great, he says. He’d love to see me. He doesn’t have any plans at all for the weekend. Maybe I could come by his house and he’ll make me lunch. But if I get there the night before, let’s have dinner at this quaint little French restaurant near my hotel.

But my friend doesn’t show up. Doesn’t call back, either. I drive right by his house, but he’s not home. A neighbor says he went camping over the weekend with his girlfriend and won’t be back before Tuesday.

I hear later from him that he’s sorry he missed me. The camping trip was a spur-of-the-moment thing with a new woman he’s met recently and he had to take advantage of the opportunity that had been presented to him because he thinks this woman might be “the one.” He’s known her only 2 weeks and wants to make a good impression.

I congratulate him. He deserves someone good in his life, but I’m disappointed that he sidestepped lunch with me in favor of the flavor of the month, as he usually calls them. I’m aware that he’s been professionally diagnosed as a narcissist, which is why I have no romantic interest in him. But I did consider us friends.

“I really wanted to see you,” he adds. “Maybe next time? When do you think you’ll be back this way?”

I won’t be.

The Wheel of Life gave me a narrow window of opportunity, a time in which to re-connect and intersect our paths again. I put forth the effort to see him again, but if he really wanted to see me, then it wouldn’t have been that difficult. And if it had been that difficult, he could have picked up the phone and told me.

He’s contacted me again since then, not mentioning the failed attempt at a meal together, but instead asking if I can give my time to a project he’s dreamed up that I have neither the time nor the inclination to be a part of—or the spare cash. And he’s angry when I say no.

But just as the Wheel turned and he missed the opportunity to see me again, the same turn of the Wheel leaves him behind. He had his chance and he blew it. Opportunities don’t last for long and the Wheel does not spin backward. It just moves forward, and so do we.

And some people get left behind. I’m sorry he was one of them.