I was new to the city.
I had moved just months earlier for a new job, the same story told by a million millennials every day. You move, you adjust, you make new friends. But as a career nanny, my “office” didn’t exactly lend itself to coworkers who are down for happy hour, much less capable of speaking in full sentences. Despite the loneliness, I loved my job and my new city. But making friends was proving itself difficult — until Elle came along.
Meeting Elle was happenstance: my new boss had a friend whose baby was also six months old, whose nanny was also a young lesbian. What were the odds! Nervous as I was at the prospect of actually making the new connections I quietly yearned for, we set up a playdate. And the rest, as they say, was history. Our friendship was forged to the tune of “The Wheels On The Bus,” and from that moment we were inseparable.
Elle was the “cool-girl” indie movie trope, live and in technicolor. She was bright and vivacious, with a quirky sense of style and an infectious personality. In many ways we were polar opposites—she was the “energetic” to my “reserved,” I was the “grounded” to her “spontaneous,” but we brought balance to each other’s lives and spent every moment laughing. In a flash, we were inseparable.
Life barreled along at 120MPH over those next two years, and together we cultivated a circle of truly incredible women—all nannies and mothers who could share in the joys and frustrations of bringing up little humans. Outside of work, things changed rapidly. I moved into a new apartment with my then-partner. She moved in with hers. We heaved boxes together and unpacked onto new shelves, paying one another with customary pizza, beer, and laughter.
Before she got engaged, her then-girlfriend texted me fervently about ring styles and sizes. The night she got engaged, I was among those invited to share in the surprise. When her wedding planning kicked into high gear, I took my duties as maid of honor seriously. Together with the wedding party, I planned beautiful parties, spent (and overspent) my hard-earned money to make sure the celebrations were as beautiful and joy-filled as my vibrant best friend and her soon-to-be wife deserved. When they began their journey to conceive, we mourned each failure together until that little blue “plus” brought happy tears.
The changes came then, slowly at first. A missed call here, a text with no response there. Our entire group was quietly baffled at the shift, but we all got it. Growing and raising babies is exhausting, and we were all adults who understood that friendship doesn’t mean talking every day. As Elle’s due date drew nearer, we pooled our money and put our heads together, planning a baby shower to rival any Pinterest confection.
When my own life took a sudden turn, Elle was there for me. After my four-year relationship ended, I spent five weepy days on Elle’s couch before dragging myself up off the floor and dusting myself off. After all, her baby was coming in mere weeks, and I was filling in for her at work during her maternity leave. Babies would be born and bills needed paying, no matter how sad I was. When Baby came, our entire group of friends rallied. Meals were cooked in advance and we made sure that Elle’s pets were cared for during her stay at the hospital. An arsenal of experienced mamas and nannies were armed, ready to rally for our girl and help welcome the newest member to this chosen family.
If you ask me what happened to Elle after Baby was born, I couldn’t give you an answer. One minute she was there, and the next she was gone. Days turned into weeks turned into months with little to no contact, despite all of our best efforts. Social media showed us that Elle and her new family were out in the world, making new friends and living her signature vibrant life, sans the entire group of people who had supported her up to that point. She had seemingly shed us like old skin, and as we began to vocalize our confusion, the secrets started seeping from the walls.
We heard from third parties stories of how the things we had done for Elle were somehow not “good enough.” It turned out that Elle never intended to come back to work, leaving me to work both her job and mine, six days a week for months on end because I thought it was “temporary.” I was exhausted. It felt like a punch to the gut. It was in that moment that I made the decision: unfriend, delete, block. I was heartbroken and had no energy for a final word or goodbye.
That was two years ago, and there are still days that I wonder if things could have been different. Should I have confronted her? Should I have tried to mend what was broken? Was that my responsibility? To be honest, I don’t even understand why things broke, much less why we were treated like yesterday’s news instead of the close knit group that we had been.
I moved on with my life and away from that city, but every now and then someone will bring Elle up in casual conversation: an “I saw her” here or “she did this” there. From what I can tell from these stories, the Elle I knew is gone. She’s been replaced by someone I don’t recognize and am not sure I’d like, someone who is everything the old Elle hated. I may never understand why things happened the way they did.
All I really know is that some days, I still miss that girl I used to know.