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 donâ€™t blame themâ€”the Wheel turns and provides narrow windows of opportunity, and you take them or you lose them, perhaps for good.
Things change, for good or for bad, and the chance to move doesnâ€™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 havenâ€™t been back to D.C. recently, so Iâ€™m not sure when Iâ€™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 itâ€™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 backâ€¦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 havenâ€™t seen in what seems like forever, a friend whoâ€™s given me an open invitation to stop in any time Iâ€™m ever in his neck of the woods.
I call to say, Hey, remember me? Iâ€™m in town next weekend and would love to have lunch with you if you can spare the time, and hey, youâ€™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.
Thatâ€™s great, he says. Heâ€™d love to see me. He doesnâ€™t have any plans at all for the weekend. Maybe I could come by his house and heâ€™ll make me lunch. But if I get there the night before, letâ€™s have dinner at this quaint little French restaurant near my hotel.
But my friend doesnâ€™t show up. Doesnâ€™t call back, either. I drive right by his house, but heâ€™s not home. A neighbor says he went camping over the weekend with his girlfriend and wonâ€™t be back before Tuesday.
I hear later from him that heâ€™s sorry he missed me. The camping trip was a spur-of-the-moment thing with a new woman heâ€™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 â€œthe one.â€ Heâ€™s known her only 2 weeks and wants to make a good impression.
I congratulate him. He deserves someone good in his life, but Iâ€™m disappointed that he sidestepped lunch with me in favor of the flavor of the month, as he usually calls them. Iâ€™m aware that heâ€™s been professionally diagnosed as a narcissist, which is why I have no romantic interest in him. But I did consider us friends.
â€œI really wanted to see you,â€ he adds. â€œMaybe next time? When do you think youâ€™ll be back this way?â€
I wonâ€™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 wouldnâ€™t have been that difficult. And if it had been that difficult, he could have picked up the phone and told me.
Heâ€™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 heâ€™s dreamed up that I have neither the time nor the inclination to be a part ofâ€”or the spare cash. And heâ€™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 donâ€™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. Iâ€™m sorry he was one of them.