Friday, May 18, 2007

Alicia: my biggest regret

"The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane." - Mark Twain

I wouldn't classify Alicia as my adversary, but I certainly thought she was insane. In fact, I often refer to her, non-maliciously, as my "pyscho roommate".

Many of you know that "Alicia" isn't her real name, but did you know that it's the alias she used when she worked? You learn something new every day, don't ya.

My first contact with Alicia was a letter. The summer after high school graduation I received a letter in the mail that had a return address in Cody, WY. I wondered, Who do I know in Cody, WY? I opened it up and the first line read, "I bet you're wondering who you know in Cody, WY". She had called the school, found out that I was going to be her roommate in the dorms, and asked for my address. I thought we must be fated to be best friends for life.

My first week of living with her made me seriously doubt the possibility of that ever happening. She informed me that she was bisexual (sorry, Cassie, if this pops up a red flag at work), that she had had a nervous breakdown her first year at school, and that she wanted to become a stripper. I was very naive, very sheltered, and a little nervous. I had left my family, my boyfriend, and all my very normal friends back home and was missing them very much at this point.

About a month into the quarter, I broke my hand (my "pride scar" - if you don't know the story, feel free to ask me about it sometime). Alicia was incredibly helpful; she stayed with me in the emergency room 'til the wee hours of the morning, called my bishop (whom I'd never met, tee hee) and had him come give me a blessing, called my professors and told them I was having surgery so would miss their classes, and sat with me in my hospital room until my mom arrived. After my surgery, she helped me transcribe notes that I had recorded during class, helped me with homework, and was basically as helpful as you could ever want someone to be. She even helped me fasten my bra - that's a true friend!

My feelings towards her slowly shifted throughout the quarter and she became my best friend. I can still vividly remember the night she received her first job as a stripper. She didn't work at a strip club; she was a private stripper. Men would call her employer and if they picked her, her boss would page Alicia. That night her pager went off for the first time, she woke me up to tell me and I actually felt a bit of excitement. She changed into her sexy clothes and I made her promise to wake me up when she got back and to tell me everything! She did, and she did! I learned a lot from Alicia. A lot.

We became hermits. We'd lock ourselves in our dorm room and pretend we weren't there when anyone knocked. We spent all our free time together. We talked and talked and talked. Again, I learned a lot from her - sometimes too much.

Then she convinced her boyfriend to move to Utah and they moved into an apartment together. I moved home for the summer, and when I got back, I moved into an apartment with my cousin, Alyson, and a girl, Cori, I had met at the end of the school year who had spent the summer in my hometown. Alicia and I kept in touch and went out once or twice a week. When Cori moved home to get married, Alicia was having some problems with her boyfriend, so Aly and I invited her to move in with us. It was great living with her again, and I seem to remember the three of us getting along quite well.

Alyson ended up moving home at some point, I don't remember the exact reasons, so Alicia suggested we invite her friend Jennifer to move in with us. I'd met Jen a few times but had never really bonded with her. I agreed, though, and for awhile, things were quite nice.

Things started to go wrong by the end of summer 1997. Alicia started having money problems. She had received two substantial insurance payments at the beginning of the summer and had spent all of the money and more by the end of the summer. Jen and I found this out when the three of us went to get tattoos (no, I wasn't getting one, you know me better than that, I was just going to watch). Jen wanted to wait 'til payday, but Alicia offered to pay for the tattoo and let Jen pay her back if they went that day. Jen agreed but when Alicia tried to withdraw money from the ATM, it said she didn't have enough - she even tried $20 and it said insufficient funds!

Things started getting rocky for Alicia, so I tried to help her as much as I could. Then she and her boyfriend spent a week in Wyoming and her car broke down in Lyman on the way back. They called us and we went to get them. Jen and I got seriously lost but had a blast. We also talked a lot. Somehow, we discovered that Alicia had told us different versions of the same story. I didn't think a lot of it, because I realize that sometimes one embellishes the story through repeated tellings. It troubled Jen, though. A week later, when the four of us returned to Lyman to pick up the car, Jen wanted to compare other stories with me when it was just the two of in the car. Turns out, Alicia had told lots of different versions of lots of different stories. It got worse. She had lied, out and out lied, to me about some serious things. She had lied about me, too. Things that were just mean and horrid. I felt so unbelievable betrayed.

This is where my regrets start. I should have confronted Alicia and tried to work things out. My only excuse, feeble though it is, is my youth and inexperience. I shut her out of my life. I stopped talking to her about things. Don't mistake me, I didn't go around ignoring her, I'd still say hi and bye and such, I just wouldn't sit on my bed late at night and talk 'til dawn with her like I used to. She noticed and asked me about it, but I denied that anything was wrong. However, I couldn't stand to talk to her - I doubted every word that came out of her mouth and I wondered how she'd use my words against me.

It got worse. She lost her job but didn't tell us. Every afternoon she'd pack her lunch and head off to work - by this time she had quit stripping and had a job at a call center. In fact, she'd go to her boyfriend's apartment (don't ask how we found out). Then her boyfriend decided to move to Colorado. During this time period, I was served three, count them three, warrants for her arrest; she had been fraudulently bouncing checks for months. If she would have been home, she would have been arrested. If she would have been pulled over, she would have been arrested on the spot. As it was, she wasn't home when the sheriff's deputy came, I was. The first time it happened I thought they were going to arrest me since she wasn't there! By the third time, the deputy and I were thinking of eloping. (just kidding) So, Alicia was just a trifle worried about money. Her family began to figure some things out right about now, too. For years she had led them to believe that she was the perfect church-going, virginal, Mormon girl. They knew nothing about the stripping, the pot (did I mention she smoked pot?), the sex, etc. For reasons I can no longer remember, they started catching on and weren't happy.

So, Alicia was having a tough time; her boyfriend moved, her family was giving her a hard time (threatened to disown her), and she was in serious financial straits. What a bad time to have her two best friends and roommates stop being friendly. We started going out without inviting her, I'm ashamed to admit.

One weekend, right before Christmas, Jen and I spent the entire time at her mom's house, without Alicia, of course. When we got home Monday morning, Alicia's car was there, but Alicia wasn't. I checked the answering machine and listened to a message from Alicia. She was calling from the hospital and informed us that she had threatened to commit suicide so had been admitted into the psych ward. We rushed over there, guilt almost overwhelming me. She wasn't allowed visitors but we were told we could come back that evening. It was a long day. When we visited, she was doing better. Her parents were coming to take her home for Christmas, her boyfriend, who hadn't called her in two weeks, was calling all the time, and we were there. She told us the story of how she ended up in the hospital and it was quite dramatic. Only later did we hear the real version from our neighbors. Yes, she had lied to us again. Then, to increase my frustration, she totally lied to her pyschiatrist - in front of me! I won't go into details, because I don't want to, but it made me realize that she was as much the little liar as ever.

At this point, I stopped even trying to keep up appearances. I ignored her completely. It made living in that apartment an absolute hell. Weeks after she got back from her parents' house, I started having weird visions. Every time I took a shower, I'd envision Alicia coming into the bathroom and pulling a Pyscho moment, stabbing me repeatedly with my big butcher's knife. I felt completely irrational, and scared. I started locking the bathroom door. I shared this with Jen and she just laughed. One day, however, when Alicia went to "the gym" (she never actually went, just said she was going - again, don't ask), Jen stole the letter Alicia had just put in our mailbox. It was a letter to her boyfriend and after convincing me that we should read it, we got a glimpse into Alicia's disturbed mind. The letter contained rantings and ravings, expletives galore, and a threat to kill me. We were stunned. I refused to stay in the apartment with her, so Jen and I went to Jen's mom's house for the weekend. Sunday night, we sat Alicia down and told her she had to move out. She took it calmly, called her parents, and by Monday, she was out of the apartment. Turns out, her parents had already made the decision that Alicia should move back with them. That Sunday night, though, was rough. I made Jen sleep on the futon with me and I couldn't sleep because I kept picturing Alicia coming into the living room and killing me. As you know, this didn't happen, but it made for a poor night's sleep.

I was glad when she left. Good riddance, I thought. That feeling lasted a long time. After awhile, though, I could see where I had done wrong, where I could have been a better person, a better friend. I saw how I could have helped Alicia avoid all the drama we ended up living through. When it was all happening I thought I was an innocent victim. I was wrong.

A couple months before my mission ended, I had a dream. I dreamed that I was taking the bus from Montreal to Utah and that we stopped in a small town in Ohio or Iowa or something. While the driver gassed up, my fellow passengers and I ate a quick lunch at a tiny diner. On the same block as the diner, there was a gas station. As I ate, I watched an old, run-down station wagon with a gaggle of screaming kids pull up to the tank. Alicia stepped out and started to gas up. I couldn't believe it. I hesitated for just a moment, then quickly left the diner and ran over to her. She didn't recognize me at first, so I told her who I was. I apologized for everything and started to cry. She cried, too, and also apologized. We hugged for an age or so, then the bus driver called for us to get back on the bus. I gave her a quick hug, told her I love her, and got on the bus. I woke up sobbing.

I'd give anything for a chance to apologize to Alicia and make things right between us. Anything.


julie said...

Sorry, that was a long post. And, depressing.

Framed said...

So, do you know her parents name? Maybe you could find their number and call and get Alicia's address or e-mail.

Alyson said...

I can't imagine being in that situation. Hopefully she got the help she needed and is living a happy (and lie free) life. I remember we always had a lot of fun together, and I'm glad I was your roommate during the happier times and not during this timefame. Do you remember her crazy cat?

Anonymous said...

I'm analyzing your dream... interesting, very interesting.

booklogged said...

Wow, what an experience. I remember you mentioning your roommate, but I think that was earlier on. That last part is really scary. I'm not so sure there was anything you could have done differently. I hope she has received the help she needed.

tearese said...

How stressful! I've had friends and acquaintances who's troubles and personalities stress me out, and I can't say how happy I am when they somehow disapear from my life. I don't think I could have handled the stress of that acquaintance, but you never know.

Cardine said...

I really think it's cool of you to see that there were things that you could have done differently. I don't think I've ever had a perfect relationship. It's good to keep that perspective that no matter how horrible a person is to you, you can still make choices for yourself and are responsible for them in the way you treat that person. Great post. Thanks.

julie said...

Framed, I used to know her parents' names, but not any more. A few months after Alicia left, Jen called them and we found out Alicia was in Colorado, but they wouldn't tell us anything more.

Aly, yes, I remember Mickey. He was crazy!

Sarah, did your analysis come up with anything interesting?

Book, I hope she received help, too. Really, I hope she's happy, wherever she is, whatever she's doing.

Tearese, only the last few months were stressful, before that, she was my best friend. That's what I think is truly sad about everything, the complete change in our relationship.

Cardine, I couldn't have said it better. Thanks. Glad you're back!

warnser said...

I like Cardine's comments too.
I too have had a few situations where I looked back and thought, "yeah they were _______, but perhaps I could have treated them better."

I thought this post was very insightful. very interesting.
very good.

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