Click for Part I.
How do you move on from an intimate friend's and an almost lover's mutual betrayal, when you can't escape it? Of course, Priscilla apologized. She even offered to never see him again if I didn't want her to; I said no -- she's a grown woman, I can't tell her who she can and can't see. Then she promised to never bring Paul around the house ever again, but that promise never held water.
Every night while I was at work, she'd sneak him into her room, and each morning before I got out of bed, I heard their emotional farewells at the front door. When he was there, she couldn't look me in the eye, but when he wasn't, she'd be more smiling, bubbly, and insincere than ever. Her phone dinged with texts as often as mine had, and suddenly, just as I had, she found new meaning to her life.
I had no safe place to go. The sanctuary I'd created in my bedroom was no longer impenetrable to the people who caused me headaches. I was living in hell.
I told Marian over Skype what had happened, and how I wished she were still our roommate, because she would've not-so-gently put Priscilla in her place. Our new roommate Genevieve was just settling in, and didn't want to be stuck in the middle of a tug-of-war between two of her closest friends -- especially not when one of them was the landlord's daughter.
It was difficult to find people to talk to -- the story was embarrassing enough, and every time I had to explain it from scratch, it added insult to injury.
Luckily, I had my childhood friend Damien in on the situation. He had visited me back in April, and while we had a blast, he also hit it off with Priscilla. He'd spent the night in her bed instead of on the couch, and the next morning he was happy, yet contrite towards me. It was awkward in my position, but Damien was a friend, and Priscilla was an otherwise cool girl in search of attention -- she hadn't had a boyfriend in almost four years and she let it greatly impact her self-esteem. He was a good guy so I thought perhaps something might be worth exploring between them.
Well Damien went back home, and didn't have the chance to be a gentleman and check in with how she was doing -- he was sent a barage of texts and sexts before he even arrived. For the next several weeks, he patiently allowed himself to be entertained by Priscilla's attention and affections. The dating scene in Charlottesville, where he lived, was sparse, and what young bachelor doesn't enjoy a steamy Skype session with a scantily clad co-ed? Priscilla couldn't remain cool about it, however. She felt that she deserved some sort of commitment for making herself so vulnerable and available, but Damien felt otherwise. He slowly and gently began to cut her off, trying to avoid a confrontation that might upset me. I don't think he realized how well I understood -- even before Priscilla lured Paul into her chambers.
I Skyped him, and recounted the whole incident. Unlike most people who were stunned with disbelief, he could totally see how the situation was plausible.
"So that's why I've barely been hearing from her," he said. "I thought she'd finally taken the hint..."
Days passed, then weeks, of me no longer being welcome in my own home. Genna began to feel sorry for me, and even found herself being ditched by Priscilla in favor of her forbidden romance. Damien was a constant source of comfort, and got an update every time Priscilla told a spotty cover story, or attempted a sloppy cover-up.
What was I going to do next? I couldn't live like this, but didn't have the money to move. I was trying to save up to go to graduate school, and then I absolutely would be out of her life, so she could be guilt-free, carrying on with her romance forevermore.
I was mulling over my options with Damien over Skype one day in June, when Priscilla came home early, and without Paul. The next morning, she confronted me in my bathroom while I was getting ready for work.
"I heard your conversation with Damien," she hissed with venom.
"Oh?" I responded casually.
"How dare you say derogatory things about me to him!" she shrieked. "You know how much I care about him!"
"Really? Is that why you're sneaking Paul into the house all the time after you've promised not to?"
How do people like this exist outside of middle school and soap operas? I thought. How was it even possible that we were close friends so recently? Who is this monster?
"I cannot live with you backstabbing me all the time!" she continued. "I apologized for what happened with Paul, you didn't tell me to never see him again, and now we're dating, but you still can't come around and act like my friend. You have until the end of June to move out!"
And with that, Priscilla turned on her heel and triumphantly marched down the stairs.
Backstabbing Priscilla all the time? Can't act like her friend? Move out? My head was swimming. I had to collect myself and go to work. Evicted because I confided in my childhood friend, whom you tried to manipulate into dating you, about what you did to me with another guy? Can this be real?
I didn't want to live there anymore, that was for certain. But how was I going to afford to move? My lease ended July 31 -- she wanted me out a month early? Surely her parents, the actual landlords, would listen to reason.
I wrote them a letter, a rather long exposé. I held nothing back, from Damien to Paul and everything in between, sparing no detail. At the end I assured them that I had no desire to stay, and I had no designs against their daughter. I just needed their permission to live out the end of my lease to get my finances together before moving.
Maybe Priscilla was bluffing when she confronted me in the bathroom. Maybe she was merely in search of a confrontation that would clear the air so we could once again live our lives without tip-toing around each other. But after I sent that letter, my eviction was concrete, and I was out.
I searched around extensively for a room to rent. I was rejected by full-grown men because it would make them uncomfortable to live with a single lady who might date eventually. I rejected a room that festered with the scent of illegal drugs. Finally, through Craig's List, I found a little house being rented by twin brothers. It was clean, they were straightforward, and I got the master bedroom and its bathroom all to myself. I was sold.
Finally I'd found a resting place -- or so I thought.
Genna invited me to the neighborhood pool a few weeks later. After I moved out, Priscilla's drama didn't end like everyone thought it would, and Genna could no longer stand it. She was left to deal with it all alone, and needed to vent to someone who understood.
"Jessika, after she got him to put their relationship on Facebook, she found out he was sleeping with four other girls. Not one! Not two, not three, but four!"
"So much for that 'pity me, I'm still a virgin' story he tried on me," I said.
"Oh, there's no WAY that was true at the time!"
We laughed as we put sunblock on to enjoy the rays before the end of the season. It had been a trying summer -- it was good to relax with a friend, and comforting to hear that I was right to escape the mayhem, no matter how badly it had hurt me.
"You know, Priscilla asked me the other day," she continued, "If Paul 'never gave Jess any of this shit because she put him in his place'."
"Well yeah -- I KICKED HIM OUT OF MY LIFE! That's kinda what happens -- they no longer have the chance to give you shit."
We tanned and swam, and shared our latest run-in's with the men we'd attempted to date. Of all my friends, she was the only one who still came to support me at my shows -- and boy had we had some adventures.
"You know, my showband has another gig coming up at the same club where I met Paul the first time. Why don't you come? I'll get you in for free."
I opened for the Motown tribute act at Raleigh's premier beach club once again, with the shaggers spinning carefree around the floor. The posse from the university came through -- it was like déja vu, except there was Priscilla, orbiting around her man who had four other women at his sexual beck and call; and there was Genna. She was hanging around the fringes of the group, not really sure how to hang with a partner dancing social club, until she was introduced to a young man named William, who would prove himself to be quite significant in her life.
My set ended, and I jumped off the stage so it could be preset for the Motown act. The entire group of university shaggers turned to stare apprehensively at me. They knew who I was by this point, and knew I had the right to pick a fight if I wanted. I also knew that I'd be welcomed if I chose to let go of my hurt and hang out. But why would I want people like that in my life? From them, I wanted only one thing.
I walked up to Paul when the DJ began spinning a new track, and held out my hand. He accepted the invitation to dance with a grateful, apologetic smile, and -- just like it did on May the 12 -- time stood still as the world stopped to watch us dance together once more. The music ended, and I turned and walked away.
Click for Part III.