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2008-02-24 - 11:05 a.m.

I've probably seen more of Annie in the last week-and-a-half than I have in 5 years. I think at some point we just came to the conclusion that we were okay, and after last week I'm reasonably confident that this "okay-ness" will extend to when Jo comes back, and will extend to some sort of "okay-ness" between her and Jo.

I spoke to her last year about Mel, and she sounded amazingly together. We talked about catching up for a drink, sometime after I got back from my trip. Then literally the night I got back she called me and was entirely not together, but there was no doubt that we were okay. She needed someone to talk to that night and I was able to be someone again. I'm not saying that in a self-obsessed egocentric way, just matter-of-factly. The fact that what was upsetting her was completely understandable was encouraging. I think she's come a long way in 7 years, but that doesn't mean she's 100% okay.

So anyway, a couple of weeks ago she emailed me seeing if I wanted to catch up for that drink, and we made plans for a Wednesday night (13/2). In days gone by, plans made a week in advance with Annie were no sure thing, and you were never even sure about plans made on the same day, but this time there was no such issue. The only problem was that we'd chosen a Wednesday night, when I'm usually at trivia with Rowan (ie her ex) and others. And we'd chosen the Townie for drinks, and I didn't want to point out why it might not have been the best idea, at least not immediately, because she didn't even know Rowan and I were friends, and hadn't seen him in about 4 years, and so I had no idea how she'd react, but I still figured she'd need some warning.

I think what was more important to me though was finding out if she could handle me talking about Jo, because if she couldn't then clearly this whole catching up thing wasn't going to work. So pretty much the first thing I told her was that I was engaged (I was back in November but neither then nor when she called me up in need of a friend were really appropriate times to tell her). I wouldn't say she reacted badly, in Annie terms anyway, but she was clearly a little uncomfortable. I guess we were both a little uncomfortable anyway, not 100% sure what to say to each other. That's the advantage of meeting up in a pub- a couple of drinks later a lot of the unease had faded, although I was still not sure what to say about this whole "Rowan and his friends are about to descend on the Townie" situation. I guess that's pretty much what I said, when it was clear that we were still going to be there at 8pm. And she was fine, her and Rowan were fine, even if they hadn't seen each other in forever. In the end it was less about Rowan and more about Annie's social phobias that made it a little weird. A whole lot of people she had vaguely associated with in her past, plus Rowan's girlfriend, freaked her out a bit. She was more comfortable when Mark and Phoebe showed up, but I apologised profusely to her and Rowan for potentially putting them both in an uncomfortable situation. Looking back I don't think it was such a bad thing, given that she's been a bit of a recluse of late- I guess when you come into Newtown you accept you might see people that live around there. There was a time when she wouldn't venture into Newtown for fear of seeing someone that might upset her.

So that was Wednesday- I saw her again at Mark's party on Saturday night (16/2). She wasn't going to be there because her most recent ex (who is a friend of Mark's) was going to be there with his new girlfriend, but in the end she came in the afternoon and left early (without totally managing to avoid the ex). We decided to meet up again on Thursday for music trivia, which turned out really well. I mean let's face it- the first time you catch up properly in 5 years, you're more than likely going to find plenty to say (after you get over that initial weirdness), but the third time in a week, when there are still things we're not 100% comfortable with- it's good to have trivia questions to answer as a safety net. What made me really happy though was that we did talk about that unspoken issue of her and Jo. As it related to us anyway- that it would be 100% okay for us to continue to catch up when Jo was back, and that I'm confident that the 3 of us could catch up (with the music trivia safety net :) and it would be okay. Annie wanted to make it clear that she didn't have a problem, and that she didn't know what the problem was in the first place (the whole situation reminds me a little of Tom Buchanan and Nick Carraway at the end of Gatsby- Annie may never realise or face the role she played in driving both Jo and I away in the first place, but there comes a time when you just shake hands and get on with your lives). I don't think Jo will ever forgive Annie for the way she treated both of us, and has no desire to be best buddies again, but would like to be able to catch up and be civil and that it could actually be an enjoyable experience.

It means a lot to me that Annie is trying to make us as friends work again. Just some of the gestures have been kind of touching. On the first Wednesday she gave me a free bookmark that came with a Beatles book she had bought and then had to hock- the idea being that if I bought the book I could tell her all about it, seeing as she never actually got around to reading it. And then after predictably talking about "Buffy" and "Angel" as a bit of an icebreaker between Rowan, her and I, she turned up on Thursday with Season 5 of "Angel" because I hadn't seen it yet. I've never been "just friends" with Annie. Apart from how I felt about her back then, I also felt like I was more of a counsellor than a friend most of the time. She needed me and I needed her to need me. I probably thought back then that it was too much to ask for her to pull herself out of her convoluted world and make those sort of gestures.

I know that an about face is not out of the question, but if her, Jo and I could all be okay together it would mean a lot.


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