Man in the Middle

Both our parents were divorced, she had two sisters, I had three. Both of us had charismatic, larger-than-life dads who were crazy about us, and involved with their new wives,I was so in love with my college roommate that when my boyfriend called to see if I would go out on Friday night, I would cover the receiver and whisper to her, “Did you want to see that movie at the Biograph with me?”  If she said Yes – I’d tell him I was busy. She was my #1.

She was Louise to my Thelma, and as in the movie “Julia” she was Julia (Vanessa Redgrave) to my Lillian (as in Hellman played by Jane Fonda). She actually resembles both Susan Sarandon and Vanessa in her coloring and legginess. We met hanging out at the student café. It was the end of my Junior year, her Sophmore year. She was a language major in the “Ling-Lang school” – I was an IR major at the Foreign Service school.  She stood out in a crowd, statuesque at 5 foot 10 with the most amazing French accent. Her dad was French – no wonder.  I was missing my French boyfriend – she was missing hers too.

Both our parents were divorced, she had two sisters, I had three. Both of us had charismatic, larger-than-life dads who were crazy about us, and involved with their new wives, and moms we were constantly trying to “figure out.”

We decided after a few hours in that University café we would live together. As transfer students, neither of us had landed in the best living situation. That very day, we set off to check out her friend’s apartment on “M” street above an Italian restaurant. Her friend was graduating and said she could take over the lease. It had two living rooms–or two bedrooms–depending on your perspective. We took it – bought two pull-out couches and had the year of our lives.

That year our friendship was cemented forever.  We renamed ourselves by adopting half of each other’s names–she was Verafel and I was Felovere– each of us was only half alone but together we were whole –forever intertwined.

When we graduated her dad gave us both jobs at his real estate company in Edmonton, Alberta. We set off on a magical, marathon road trip from D.C. to Alberta with her brother in their old Mustang convertible, driving through the nights–taking turns sleeping in the back seat covered in blankets with the top down and the 8-track grinding out James Taylor, Carole King and Bruuuuuce of course.

We worked together, lived together and partied together.  Never any tension, just constant discovery in our days as we learned about income statements and rental agreements. Summer nights of dancing, meeting new friends and hosting parties at her dad’s amazing pool. Happy and tanned, we were inseparable. Until…a Man entered our lives; a dashing playboy type, his smile could melt your heart. When we first spoke I felt like a fish hooked on a lure, and I wanted to be reeled in. My friend felt exactly the same way. We would both talk about him late into the night and secretly imagine he was ours. He was playing us both. Did I mention he looked like Richard Gere?  For me, he was a full-on crush; to her, he was the man she wanted to live with forever.

It turned out he was truly a playboy. After a long first kiss in the pool one night, I sadly told him I could not go out with him because my best friend was crazy for him. His eyes lit up, thrilled with delight. He drifted away from me and into her arms.  That night, they began their relationship, which was to end in marriage that very year. She was 22, he was 26.

Saddened and empty, I believed I lost my best friend to a man that summer. How could this deep, all encompassing friendship be wiped away by an interloper? But that’s what it felt like. We promised to love each other always–that’s what we said–and then I left Canada and she stayed. I went back to D.C., and got my first real job, and we tried to stay in touch. It was harder to do then. Long distance calls to Canada were a fortune, so we relied on letters. The years passed. She divorced and came “home.”

It turns out time has been our best friend. As the years passed and we became mothers dealing with our own personal challenges and responsibilities we recognized how sacred our friendship was. Through sickness, divorce, death, crisis and life events we would find relief and comfort with each other. When we now meet we feel transported to our original bond. We trust our souls with each other. We ask each other’s advice, willing to face the truths–to be seen and to share easily–we both feel the unconditional love.

So now as we sit down for our dinner, the spotlight falls on our table and the background fades to black– we are complete in the moment.  Our love fills the space and there is no room for anyone  in the middle.


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Felice Shapiro

Felice Shapiro Felice Shapiro loves figuring out what's next. Felice writes with honesty and humor about real life events, romance, tragedy, reinvention and family not to mention — fashion, beauty & travel. As a serial entrepreneur in the publishing space, she launched to meet the needs of women entering their next phase at 50. Inspired and armed with her love of publishing, writing, start-ups and women’s issues, Shapiro launched an online magazine for 50-something women to share personal stories, successes and relevant issues. She is proud of BA50 which is in its 4th year and has over 7 million unique visitors. 


  9 comments for “Man in the Middle

  1. March 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Felice, what an ode to friendship. You were good to relinquish the boy to your friend and not hold a grudge against either – not everyone has that degree of charity. Friendships that withstand time and circumstance are to be treasured just like yours. Bravo!

  2. March 5, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    This is beautiful. I never experienced girlfriend love to this degree. I wish I had.

  3. Lois Alter Mark
    March 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to the power of female friendships!

    • felice
      March 5, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks Lois appreciate your kind words

  4. March 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I love this story — and I do believe that most close female friendships can withstand anything if given the time to work themselves out. You did the right thing in letting go of him before you released this kind of friendship. Beautiful recounting of the female bond.

    • felice
      March 5, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks Donna – It’s true. I guess later in the life we get to look back and see how it all turned out. I’m grateful for this one but as friendship is soooo precious

  5. March 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Great story! I’m fortunate to have some good gals pals like that too. K-

  6. March 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    such a great story, felice! women truly grow with – and learn from – each other in a way that is so special and transformative. Thankj you for sharing! We especially need these girlfriends when going thru life’s stages – like menopause!

  7. March 5, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Great story. There’s nothing like a girlfriend that you’ve known for years and whose friendship can be picked back up. I’m lucky to have a few in my life. Girlfriends are a blessing. As women we sometimes don’t learn that value until we mature.

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