Lying on our backs in the grass, my best friend and I contemplated the clouds, letting the sun and the breeze bathe us in warmth.
“Tell me the plan again?”
I rolled onto my side and propped my head on my hand. “Kelly, it’s really not that complicated. I need to talk to the other men I was in love with –“
Kelly flipped onto her side so she could face me. “Boys, Lex. They were all boys. Don’t kid yourself.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Well, they’re men now. I have a list. It’s not long, but it’s significant. Each name on this list was an important part of my love life, of my growth. I only know my side of things. I want to know theirs. The idea is to find each of them and talk about what went wrong, like John Cusak did in Hi Fidelity. But without the massive ego and the obliviousness to other people’s feelings.”
Laughing, Kelly rolled to her back again.
“Am I the Jack Black character in this scenario, or the Joan Cusak one?”
We both laughed and I told her, “Definitely Joan! It is your duty to be my sounding board and to tell me when I’m being an asshole.”
She paused for just a beat. “Alexis?”
“You’re being an asshole.”
I swatted at her, but she rolled out of my reach and splayed out on her stomach while we laughed. She was my best friend for exactly that reason. She saw through my bullshit and wasn’t afraid to call me on it.
She had been around for every name on that list. Starting in 6th grade, when we shared a locker and sat by each other in the flute section of the band. Kelly had shared my joy and dried my tears – and I had done the same for her. When her mom died our junior year and she couldn’t stand being in their empty house all alone, she lived with me until her dad moved back to town just to take care of her. While we weren’t at the same college, we stayed in constant contact and no one ever took her place. She was the one who encouraged me to talk to Jamie one night at a karaoke bar and for that, I would be forever in her debt.
“Do you think this is honestly the best way to go about things?”
I started pulling blades of grass out of the ground, one by one.
“Kell, I don’t know. That’s the worst part – I don’t know! I love Jamie. So much. The idea of not being with him is terrifying to me. But the idea of marrying him, of thinking I’ll be with him for the rest of our lives, only to watch things fall apart is eating me alive. I have to do this.”
Kelly didn’t say anything for a minute, her brow wrinkled as she mulled over my words.
“What did Jamie say about all this?”
“You know. The same amazing Jamie things he always says: he’d be here when I was ready, that he’d give me all the time I needed to be sure. That he didn’t have any doubts about marrying me. God, he made me so mad!”
She sat straight up and turned an annoyed look on me.
“You need to be medicated, you know that? You need drugs and therapy. LOTS of therapy.”
I grinned up at her.
“That’s why I keep you around.”