I texted a friend the other day to say Merry Christmas, beautiful. Love you. Hope to see you soon.
She texted back, Thanks, T. Love you too. See you Fri.
Yeah. Except I'm not T. I'm J. And we didn't have plans for Fri. As a matter of fact, we haven't had plans for a while. Not for lack of trying on my part.
"Give up," says my shrink, who may be just a little tired of hearing stories like this from me. "She can't reciprocate your feelings for her. Find someone who can reciprocate."
Okay. My shrink has said this before. Stop chasing after people who blow you off. You'd think, after twelve and a half years of therapy, that I'd have integrated this advice.
"But maybe it was something I did," I fret. "Maybe I alienated her somehow; maybe I should..."
My shrink shakes her head. "It's nothing you did. It's not about you. It's her. She's just not that into you."
We talk about some other stuff, and then she edges forward in her seat, her signal that the session's almost over. These are her parting words for the week:
"You've got to find a really good girlfriend."
I'm thinking about it all day as I write. Then I run into Amanda in the kitchen at the writers' room and we chat for a while. I tell her the text message story.
"Sucks," she agrees. "You should probably give up."
Amanda's a really good girlfriend, and has been for many years. But she's already got really good girlfriends coming out of her ears, fabulous wingwomen with whom she goes on writing retreats and to swanky parties.
Me, I tend to spend all my free time with Bill. Actually, when I think about it, the last best girlfriend I had was back when I was single.
"I think you're getting in the way of me having a girlfriend," I tell him over the phone, checking in from home for our late afternoon catch-up.
"Why, yes," he says. "I am."
Ha ha. He knows I don't mean a sex girlfriend. I mean a love girlfriend. I mean a Best Friend For Life. A biffle.
I hang up and go back to brooding.
I go to the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror, give myself a wry smile. I'm cute, I tell myself. Right? I mean, I've been down on myself lately because I put on a few pounds, and the waistband of my pants gives me an appendectomy every time I sit down, but my hair looks good, and this new shirt I got is really flattering. I give a few quarter turns in the mirror: left, right, left. Cute. Even I have to admit it. I'd want to meet this girl. I'd want to be friends with her. In fact, there's nobody else I'd rather be friends with.
It's like that line from the new book, the one my editor used for the title. The unspoken question Bill used to ask when I came home from volunteering each week: Have you found her yet? The one who reminds you of you?
I haven't found her yet. But I think I finally know what I'm looking for.