The One Thing We Couldn’t Talk About

Throughout this time, she always confided in me, and I told her everything. Well, almost everything. I never mentioned that one summer while she was off at camp, her boyfriend decided that he and I were meant for each other. He was a good-looking guitar player, and I was keeping an eye on him for her. We often got together to sing her praises, and then one beautiful day he told me that the plan had changed. It was going to be him and me. When he lurched forward to kiss me, I nearly laughed out loud. I said, “Are you crazy?”

We were alone in a field where mysterious and sometimes illegal things happened. We were stoned and young. Also, he was so handsome and sullen, just my type. But it didn’t matter. I truly thought he might be crazy. What on earth had led him to believe I would ever betray my close friend? My dear friend, who was probably protesting the war at a rally near her summer camp in upstate New York.

When I told him there was no “us” and never would be, he was furious. As much as I tried to explain the situation, he didn’t seem to grasp the concept of loyalty. He had no idea that there was such a thing as girl code. In layman’s language, the code was simple and never changed: Keep your hands off my boyfriend. I didn’t tell her about this encounter when she returned. I didn’t want to hurt her and what was the point?

Not surprisingly, they drifted apart without any input from me. After high school, she and I went in different directions. We still talked but not as often. She moved to Massachusetts for college. I left high school early, skipped college, then went to night school before heading to graduate school in California.

In time, we both wound up in Cambridge, Mass., and even though our separate, busy lives made it impossible for us to get together and walk, we kept talking, aware that our friendship would never include our husbands; it was a circle of two, just as it always had been.

When my husband abruptly left me seven years ago for a friend of mine, she helped me through the wreckage of my marriage with nightly phone calls for a year. And even when I recovered, with the help of hypnosis, therapy and strong doses of reality, we never stopped talking.

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