Phoebe texted me out of the blue.
Seven years had passed since we last spoke – 1,000 miles and a lifetime between us. We drifted apart as life happened. We communicated through Christmas cards.
She wanted to catch up.
I met Phoebe at my first job out of college, in the barren wastelands of central Illinois. She was a new immigrant from Asia, and in the small red neck town I found myself in, she was the coolest one there. We would walk to house parties, taking pulls off of a flask of rum. We’d go dancing at the night club an hour away – dressed to kill – or grab drinks at the bar down the street. We’d swap boy stories, hang out, have lunch dates, and I learned a great deal about her culture and way of life back home. When we hung out with her crew, I was often the lone white girl, who was a full foot taller than everyone.
She worked second shift, I worked third shift with her then-boyfriend Alex, an American. Alex helped me learn my trade and I kept up with him for job references. When they got married, I was a bridesmaid.
We kept in touch after I moved to the coast for several years. Once the kids came along, we drifted apart. I got a phone call when she found out she was pregnant with her first. I learned of her second child on social media. I haven’t seen her since 2009 and never met her kids.
I was surprised to see her texting me after all this time, but my heart was happy. I missed Phoebe. We talked on the phone that night. She sounded good, she caught me up on all the local gossip, as she and Alex are still in the same town. We talked about the surface level things – fond memories, how “things were currently going well,” both of us still unsure of the other – I wasn’t ready to spill my heart of the past years with anxiety, infertility, and alcoholism. Maybe for another conversation. Her accent was as thick as ever, my ear no longer trained to it. It was never like that before.
We ended our conversation with her and the family possibly coming to visit in the fall.
A few days later, Phoebe texted, Can you talk thru text message?
Sure, I replied. This was bizarre, but okay.
All the pieces clicked in her next message.
I’m not in a good place. I’m leaving Alex. I can’t take it anymore. Can you help me restart my life? Maybe I can get a job by you?
Long story short, Alex cheated on her several years ago and they got through it. The other woman recently waltzed back into town and Alex got a burner phone to communicate with her behind Phoebe’s back – despite his denials of contact. It was a mess that involved the cops at one point when their argument got out of hand over the situation.
I offered for her to come to my beach for a few days, get out of the situation to think clearly, and said several times to get professional help. Counseling in these situations is so important, whether they stayed together or not.
She began to price airfare and planned a long weekend visit in a few weeks.
And then I got this message:
Things are better. We talked it out and I’m leaving for a visit to Asia soon and I don’t have the money to fly to North Carolina right now. But thank you so much for listening and supporting me! I promise I will come down sometime this year!
I told her the invitation was open and that if she needed time to get away, I was here for her.
This was all several weeks ago.
I texted her today, to see how she was doing. Things had returned to normal – the other woman was gone and the harmonious matrimony continued.
I hope stays that way.