I met Alice (I'll call her that) and her husband in a Spanish class five years ago. We became fast buddies and shared not only our desire to learn a second language but art, travel, food, and a love for the Mexican culture. She and her husband were finishing the renovation of their casa in San Miguel and already talking about sending more time away from their home in the frozen tundra of the north.
The next year, Alice and I became Spanish buddies and helped each other learn irregular verbs, direct and indirect objects, expressions not found in any Spanish books.
Then things changed. We remained Spanish buddies but spent less and less time together socially. I was hurt. Confused. Didn't understand why our friendship had changed.
When I asked her about this and why, for example after bumping into them with another couple at the cine but not invited to join them for dinner, she became stiff, distant. "I refuse to play the high school game." I took that to mean that she was uninterested, annoyed at having to consider my feelings and unwilling to have me or anyone else suggest that she ought to be loyal or cage herself with one group or another.
No matter the "I" statements I gave, she didn't budge. No matter the "I" statements about how we valued her friendship, she wasn't moved. Never once did she acknowledge my feelings.
And this year during our two months in Mexico, nothing has changed. Alice seems to see our time together working with a Spanish tutor as the extent of our friendship. There have been no dinners, no drinks on the terrace, no jaunts outside of town. Oh, there have been empty invitations from both Alice and her husband. "We really should get together." "We bought a new case of wine. You should share some of it with us." And so it goes. We have one week left before returning to the frozen tundra and have not once spent any time outside of class.
So, how have I juggled my hurt and frustration? I left our class together and am working alone with our tutor. I wait to respond to her emails and make them short and sweet. Even when she "vented" (her word) in a recent email about all the decisions she has to make to expand a second home with gardens the size of a small botanical and the apparent stress between her and her husband, I didn't respond. Yes, I thought about it. I even penned a draft. But it's remained unsent.
It pains me that I have been so disappointed, so hurt. I'm almost 70 years old and should be spending my time on more important things. But good friendships are hard to make the older I get, and I sure thought mine with Alice would last and grow.