“I lost four guys in their quest for The Holy Grail.”

She named the guys; I remembered them and how much she adored them, despite their infatuation for another. Four was a tricky number to beat – there were only five girls in the clique, but the guy count was closer to ten –especially when all four of them gave the same break-up reason: “I have feelings for another.” The other two girls lost at least two each. My one was relatively nothing; granted, everyone else’s losses were all ten years ago.

“Do you think she knew? Knew what they were to you?”

“Yeah. Yeah, Molls, she definitely knew. I spent my entire high-school life wishing I could be her.”

We were shopping, me and my friend who, fittingly, is a doctorate student for psychology. It was her wedding at which he and I hooked up last year.

I asked if we could hate her, if only for today, to which she laughingly agreed.

She listened to my rants and contributed her own problems to assure that her life, too, was far from perfect. She’s a really good friend.

“Molls, I could see them dating. I could see her wanting something more.”

I could, too. “They are both fun people, it’ll probably work out well. Can I avoid? I don’t want to be around that, and feel awkward and pretend it doesn’t bother me. Or worse, what if I get looks of pity? If he brought any other girl around, it wouldn’t bother me … but because it’s her, it does. Unhealed wound, I guess. And I never wanted to be more with him, he never got me on the level I needed, not like some, but I liked that he and I were close, I liked what we had. It was special to me, and I treasured it, ya know? And now it’s gone.”

“I always liked you two together. Since high school, I’ve liked the two of you.”

“But I didn’t want to be with him.”

“No, but I liked the two of you together even as friends. You complement each other well – you’re different enough that it works. If they date, it won’t last, you know.”

“It might.”

“She needs … to be special. That attention, that spotlight. A life with him would be too ordinary. Not that she won’t try it first.”

“I don’t have the right to be upset, with either of them. I have no claim, never wanted claim, never asked for it.”

“Doesn’t matter. It’s still a shitty situation.”

I went on to tell a story, one from Costa Rica*, which was one of my favorite memories of the trip. Since I occasionally obsess and overanalyze, I am re-examining that story, as well as others, wondering if he and I ever had something or if I was always just the runner-up.

“Molls, you have to remember that those memories wouldn’t exist without you – she would’ve played them differently. That’s a you story. She never would’ve done that. You’re not replaceable.”

Her intuitive words were lost on my pity party, my pouting. “The loss of him hurts more than of her –we were better friends –and I hate it. I’m going to miss him.”

“I know, love. It sucks.”

As we walked into a new store, the salesman greeted us, asking if we were looking for anything in particular today. To break our conversation, I responded, “Anything that can make us superficially happy.” His answering discomfort made her smile and, as intended, drop the subject.

*Maybe I’ll tell it tomorrow. As a heads-up, it’s kinda pukey.

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