“Woman. That shade of lipstick is fire. I hate the person you are when you’re with your S.O.”
“Girl. Your haircut is gorgeous. And your boyfriend is a complete dickhead.”
“Lady. Your eyebrows? On point. The man you are fucking? The worst.
I am drinking with a Stage Manager Friend. I haven’t seen her since before I left My Husband. (It’s been 123 days.) We have had 4 ciders each and we are brainstorming…or making jokes…or writing copy for a code we think should exist. A code that allows women to tell each other when they’re in terrible relationships in the understanding that no one is allowed to be mad at anyone for saying these things out-loud.
“I don’t know why.” my friend says, “but the eyebrows one is really resonating with me.”
We are both laughing pretty hard. The conversation is joyful, despite the fact that it’s something we both take very seriously. Something that has, in the past, made us both into versions of ourselves we don’t ever want to be again.
“Totally.” I say, “The compliments are something. There’s something about the compliments. But I also just wish we had a word.”
She nods. “Like a Lemon Law. But for The Sisterhood. Against The Patriarchy.”
I nod. “Precisely.”
The thing that’s tricky about this conversation, is that it’s not like nobody said anything. I have four distinct memories. There were more than four people who spoke up, but there are four interactions I’m tossing around in my brain
1. My sister writes me a letter when I get engaged. It is six pages long. “All I’m saying is give it some time.” she says, “Figure out what you want out of life first.” I am too deep in to understand what she is saying.
2. A month or so before my wedding My Husband loses his job and has a breakdown. A friend takes me for a two hour walk around Wrigleyville. “I hope you know you don’t have to do this.” she says, “You don’t have to marry him.”
“Yes, I do.” I say, “It’s just a bad spell. We’ll get through it.”
3. In the last year some things are going down in my personal life and my best friend starts in on My Husband. She gets four words in before I say, “Hey. Step off. That’s my marriage you’re talking about.” She stands down. But she looks at me differently for a few days.
4. Walking to the train with a new friend, he asks me how My Husband and I met, and I say “Oh…in college. We were in a play together. And he fell in love.”
“He fell in love?” he says.
I look at him, confused.
“You said just said “he” not “we””
I don’t reply. There is silence.
“You’re not happy.” he says. It’s not a question.
My Stage Manager Friend and I walk out of the bar into a thunderstorm.
“Tell you what.” my friend says as she bundles up against the wind, “Let’s just agree, between the two of us that we’ll always speak up, and we’ll both actually listen. Every time either of us is in that place.”
“Yes. Yes. Absolutely.” I say, “But I’m probably going to compliment your eyebrows first. Just for safety.”
She smiles, “Word.”