I had dinner with a good friend tonight. And while people do this all the time with good friends, tonight was kind of a big deal. He was my teaching partner for two years at my old school. We were ridiculous together, and instantly the yin to each other’s yang. Just a dynamic duo if there ever was one. In our school, we didn’t go anywhere without each other. We told stupid jokes and had a shared strange and unorthodox sense of humor. We could make each other cry from laughing. We texted whenever we were not together and had so many inside jokes. The two of us were like Siamese twins. I was his work-wife, and he my work-husband.
When I found out I was taking a new job, it was at our opening day presentation in my old district. As I was walking into the building, I got the call and was offered my new position. I didn’t even tell Chuck that I was looking. I had been looking for a couple years prior, but after last year, I had kind of resigned myself to staying where I was. My new job just fell in my lap, and the first Chuck was going to hear of it was me telling him I was leaving. I had to tell him, surrounded by our friends and coworkers. I could barely get the words out, and the look on his face is tattooed in my memory still. As soon as I said it, it was real for me, too. The sobs were coming like choking gasps, and I could barely speak. He didn’t speak at all.
All of my other friends hugged me and cried with me. Those I didn’t see texted me when they heard the news. I had spent 14 years teaching in that district. Had 3 kids go through the schools; lived in the town for 17 years. I had taught in 3 different buildings, and was involved in so many school and district activities; I knew so many people. And everyone gave me words of love and encouragement. Chuck said nothing.
I got a few spiteful words from him later…”How could you do this to me?” “Why are you doing this to me?” “I’ll never forgive you for this.” And this went on for months. We met once in September for dinner. And we laughed and talked like we usually did. But his year got bad. The teacher hired to replace me was a nightmare and Chuck’s year went from bad to worse. He avoided every attempt I made at getting together. I finally called him out on it, and he admitted he was avoiding me. He still held resentment towards me for leaving. And he was having such a hard time at school, he didn’t want to do anything afterwards except go home.
So I had dinner with a good friend tonight. I hadn’t seen him in 7 months, and he finally stopped avoiding me. We may be divorced work-wife and work-husband, but I’m glad that we can still be friends.