Que Sera Sera

Spotlight ON! Joey, Pt. 4

Installment the Fourth and Last: All the Ways in Which Sarah is Annoying; Breakup, Aftermath, Revival

SB: So, the internet seems to be divided between people who think that I eat gold for breakfast, and people who think I believe those people who think I eat gold for breakfast. You of all people could tell them some annoying habits or horrible things I’ve done that’ll set them straight.

JZ: Wow, what an opportunity… offhand, I’d say that the biggest ones would have to be:

– When we’d make a date, and I’d come over and you’d be still in your pajamas, playing Tetris, or getting real excited because you’re about to beat Gannon

– Waking me up at 3am to come to your apartment to stomp around and make sure no bad guys are in your closet (or on your roof, as it were) --

SB: Okay, I didn’t make you come over, you were already there, snoring! And I believe your answer was to grab my umbrella and walk downstairs and open and close it menacingly a couple of times. Like that was going to scare away the ghost of the lady who died there! I think really I’d just stayed up late reading the dictionary of superstitions and freaked myself out, and then there was a raccoon on the roof.

JZ: – Falling asleep in the middle of making out with me --

SB: Whoa! What? Are you being funny?

JZ: Uh, no! Don’t you remember that?

SB: Uh, apparently not!

JZ: Probably because you were ASLEEP.

SB: Wow. You’re going to have to say something else, because there’s no way I’m putting that on the internet.

JZ: You better, because it’s the truth!

SB: Okay, I’ll allow it, but just because it makes us both look equally bad.

JZ: And then there was the time you got drunk, and kept slapping the asses of all the guys I knew—

SB: But Joey, I slapped the asses of everyone at the whole party, not just the guys! Kerry and I had a bet! It was just for the sake of the bet!

JZ: Okay, fine. But really, the biggest one would be how you immediately figured out exactly what to do to make me really mad, and then you’d just do that all the time. Like, arguing with you is impossible, and the facts get twisted around real quick:

“So, Joey, are you gonna come over?”
“Sarah, I’ve got like three tests tomorrow, and I live an hour away…”
“But… no you don’t!”
“No, seriously, they’re my finals and I can’t skip out on ‘em…”
“OK, see you here in just a little bit!”
“No, Sarah, I really can’t come over…”
“Well, goodbye!”

SB: Man. I was good. And by good, I mean so annoying.

JZ: You know, over the past few days it’s been a lot of fun seeing what people have to say about the Sarah-and-Joey years, but I find it pretty amusing when they’re all mystified over why we split. I mean, sure, it’s easy to sit back now and talk about old times, but when things were falling apart, they were really shitty. I mean, just awful arguments during long drives, hurtful glares, and all-around embarrassment and frustration. A point came when we were clinging to this wonderful, amazing thing that we’d had, not realizing that we had both really changed. And finally, when you made the decision, I was just furious, I mean completely outraged. There was a lot of yelling. And then we just didn’t talk for like, a year.

SB: God, it was so bad. We were so miserable by that point, but still struggling so hard to make it work, because we’re both the kind of people that are really dedicated and committed to making shit work. Then I finally realized that some things maybe aren’t supposed to work. You thought you were ready to get married, and the thought of getting married terrified me, plus there was the fact that even if I had been ready, we hadn’t figured out yet that you and I shouldn’t get married to each other.

One thing I’ve always felt bad about was how, before we broke up, I kept having all those dreams where we were getting married, only I was always wearing the wrong clothes, like a Little Bo Peep outfit or a barbecue apron that said BRIDE and laced up the back, and someone was always pushing me down the aisle, saying “Go, go!” and I was always protesting, saying, out loud, NO I AM NOT READY. Now when I think back on that, it’s so obvious that my inner self was trying to clue me in, but I was totally oblivious at the time. And then I’d wake up and roll over and be like, “Oh, I had the funniest dream!” and tell you about it. Jesus.

I felt so guilty for being the one to end it, but man, we needed a break. And then there was the whole not speaking for a year thing.

JZ: Yeah, that was rough, extremely painful. And it was a real weird time, too, since Tony and I were playing in Special Purpose together and we started playing out a lot, and I’d see you at shows. I’d try to be all suave, and like “So what’s shakin’?” And you’d kind of just be real stern and say “Um, nothing.” But the worst part was the fact that your taste in music had totally changed, and I’d see you, and kind of ask about what you’d been listening to, and really read into it, and if there was something I hadn’t already heard, I’d freak out and drive like two hours away to the indie record store and stock up. Same with emails, too… man, I’d spend hours crafting the right response to your messages, making sure it was just the right amount of “Yeah, I’ve totally moved on” with “And, oh, look at how cool I am, listening to all these completely obscure bands…” I think I might have even made some up to impress you.

SB: That makes me laugh so hard, because it’s not like I wasn’t doing the same thing, trying to name every single new thing I’d heard of when you’d ask. And then you MADE ME A MIX CD, like six months after the break up! You mailed it to my office! It was like you couldn’t bear not showing me what you were into now. And I had no idea how I was supposed to respond, but man, it was a great CD.

JZ: We both pretty much kept to ourselves during that time. I really had to break out of some well-worn habits, and find new friends and things to do. We both dated other people, which was both astounding and uncomfortable for a lot of our friends. I dated a girl for about a year, and then she and I split up, and I just kind of lost it again, and freaked out and called you up all High Fidelity-style to rehash some details. But more so it was just to get more control over my life and just try to understand things better. It was rough splitting up with you and then just kind of never having that connection anymore. I remember you’d email me from time to time and I’d just kind of roll my eyes, but then I’d read the messages and be like “Man, I forgot how funny she was!”

SB: I remember I tried to stay in occasional casual contact, after the initial hard times, but you were sort of iffy about it, which is understandable, since I was the one who’d done the breaking up. But after we quit speaking, even though I knew it was best not to be together romantically, and I had to have a break from you, I really felt a hole where you had been in my life. I mean, you’d been my best friend for four years! We’d shared so much, and knew each other so well. I didn’t know how to balance that out.

JZ: I thought I was fine with everything until my last show with Special Purpose. I was moving to Portland and just ready to get out of Tulsa. And you had brought your new boyfriend to our farewell show, and seriously, I tried to be cool, but it totally just backfired on me. Like I tried to be polite and like “Wow, thanks for being two of the eight people who came to our show… Oh, nice to meet you, sir.” And he was wearing this shirt with a plug or something on it, and I tried to act cool but then I screwed it all up, and made some horrible joke like, “Oh, do you work in a plug factory?”

SB: Oh my God. That was the most excruciating moment of my life. I thought things were cool enough with us by then to bring him to the show, and I honestly wanted to see the band, but then you guys met and even though we were all adults, it was like having teeth pulled. He obviously didn’t want to be there, and you seemed surprised that we were, and then that awkward exchange where you were like, “I like your nurse’s uniform, guy,”—I wanted to just crawl under the table. I’m sure we all did.

JZ: Exactly. So then we played the show, and the room was really small, and I’m a super-loud drummer, and I guess I played so loud that I drove you guys away. The sad part is that I was gonna dedicate Sugar’s “Favorite Thing” to you, which was one of the first songs I put on a mix tape for you, but you were already gone by the time we played it. Probably better off, since it’s not good form to dedicate songs to ex-girlfriends.

SB: Aww, that’s really nice. And whatever; he and I broke up like two weeks later. I doubt that would have made a difference.

JZ: What I find hilarious is that you and I really “got back together” only when I decided to get out of Tulsa and move to Portland. And now that I’m in NC, we talk all the time. Things have really taken off since we don’t live in the same city anymore! Maybe that says a lot more about our relationship than we’d like… As for why we’re such great friends now, I think it has a lot to do with recognizing the unique connection we had, and just working to maintain. I mean, things are totally different now, and it’s definitely taken a lot of work, but I really feel it’s worth it. I mean, we’ve seen each other at our extreme best and worst. No reason not to stick around.

SB: I totally agree. It just makes no sense to have had a great connection with someone, and then assume they can’t ever be part of your life again just because that connection has changed. Once we took a breather and realized we could still maintain our connection, just in a different context, I think we both understood. And I think growing up and apart some helped, too. We’re in different cities and trying new things, and I love that we can share all of these big things still. I’m still friends with most of the guys I’ve dated, but I know that recovering from something like what we went through and still being so close is really rare. I’m so lucky to have you as a friend, and I love that we can talk and laugh about old jokes and give each other relationship advice and not have to be hung up on why things went wrong. Now we both know we’re better suited for this kind of relationship.

Also, I am so proud of you for getting out of Tulsa and realizing you’re not ready for some things you thought you were, and that you are ready for some things you didn’t even realize you could handle. You were sort of my guiding light when I moved to New York, because I was like, okay, if Joey did it, I can too.

JZ: I remember yelling at you, being like “Sarah, just throw your shit in the Honda and DRIVE TO NEW YORK! It’s easy! Other people do it, why can’t you?!” And since then you’ve totally proven yourself. We’ve both done pretty amazing things on our own, things that I had no clue would ever be a possibility.

SB: I think that breaking up with you was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the best decision I’ve ever made. It sounds harsh, but it’s not. Things are so much better now for both of us.

JZ: Man! So what now? I feel like we should have Phil Donahue come and open up the floor for questions from the audience or something. Are we done?

SB: Yeah, I think so. Oh: Superchunk Superchunk.

JZ: Huh?

SB: I just thought we should say that, since we mentioned them in all the other ones.

JZ: The Superchunk Coalition of Romantic Follies proudly presents “Joey And Sarah: An Evening of Storytelling and Lore.” (Not affiliated with Superchunk, void in some states.)

SB: Sponsorship! The final frontier.

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