I remember that night to this day. I had gone over to my (former) best friend's appartment with the intention of saying hi to him, but he wasn't home. His roommate, another friend of mine, was around, so we got to talking. As we talked, I looked around the apartment at the mess. I offered to clean it up, and began in the kitchen. It took quite awhile, but when we were done, that kitchen looked, well, like a kitchen again. Gone were the four foot stacks of pizza boxes, the beer bottles, the soda cans, and the piles of old papers. The floors and countertops sparkled. My friend and I looked forward to showing off our hard work when my best friend came home.
Unfortunately, my best friend had had a bad day at work, and came home in a horrible mood. When he saw the kitchen, he complimented his roommate on his hard work. Once he learned that I had instigated the cleaning, he flew off the handle. He threw the mail at the wall, yelling that I didn't have to clean up his mess. He ranted and raved, and stormed into his bedroom as he was prone to do when he was cranky. I followed him into his room, and we began the fight that would later define (in my mind) the end of our long friendship.
You see, we had quite a background together. We did theatre together, taking classes, doing shows, learning the trade and having a blast. He taught me how to set up lighting in a black box theatre with a light board so old it eventually melted down. I showed him how to research characters and background and translate that into acting and directing. When we had keys to the theatre, we would sleep there. I remember breaking inter-visitation rules on our campus and crashing on his floor in the men's dorm (a big no-no where we went to college- it came with a fine and everything).
Over the course of time, we crossed some lines in our friendship that shouldn't have been crossed. I began seeing a side of him I wish I would never have seen. He could be a very angry young man. He began criticizing my every move- how I walked, how I handled relationships, how I dealt with my MS- I began feeling on edge with him quite often.
Until that night, I had never felt in true fear for my physical safety. He began ranting about my being in his space and how he just needed to blow off steam. I told him that I was sorry, that I felt we needed to talk about it. He was sitting at his computer and I was standing at the foot of his bed when he pulled out a pocket knife and opened it. He began making crude comments, asking if I wanted him to hurt himself. I said no, please don't do this. He got so angry, and I remember him grabbing me and pushing me down. The knife was in his hand, flat on my forehead, and he just screamed at me, asking me what I wanted him to do. I was squirming and screaming, telling him to let me up, and finally I pulled away and ran from his room to find his shocked roommate and a guest staring at my tear-soaked face in horror. I left the apartment in shock.
For a long time, I blamed myself for that night. You shouldn't have cleaned that kitchen, you shouldn't have gone in that bedroom, and you shouldn't have pushed that hard. Months later, after we both had moved away, I finally told him that I felt our friendship was over. He was enraged, posting a horrible web log about me and women like me. He told me that he couldn't even remember that night- why should he be punished for something he didn't remember? I remember.
They say forgive and forget. I have stopped feeling guilty, but I don't know if I can say I forgave, and I haven't forgotten how quickly a friendship can be broken in the matter of one night.
** Thanks go to Simpleton for inspiring me to share this.