Monday, March 3, 2014

The Journey-Part 2

The next part of the journey takes us to Fenton's sister, Cestus.  My friendship with Cestus was as bumpy as my relationship with Fenton was (see Part 3-coming soon!).  I always felt like I was walking a tight rope and with one misstep I would find myself on the ground and bruised and wondering what had happened.

For siblings, Cestus and Fenton didn't seem very close.  They didn't talk to each other much except at meals, they didn't appear to share any common interests, and they didn't seem interested in what the other was doing.  They acted more like they were each an only child.  It was a really hard dynamic for me to relate to, and fit in with.  There were issues when it came to sharing my time, and in there was no sharing my time, at least not without some conflict.  In those instances, I felt like I was more of  a possession than a person.  They wanted me when they wanted me, and on their terms regardless of what I was doing or wanted to be doing.  I tried to make them both happy.  I really liked Fenton and I wanted to fit in.  I didn't think Cestus was as bad as he said she could be, and I was glad (as was Fenton whether he'd admit it or not) that we were getting along.

It started with her talking to us while we helped with dinner.  Then she started coming into Fenton's room to talk to us, which turned into her coming in to specifically talk to me.  Fenton just loved that and wasn't shy about showing his frustration with her coming into his room, so then she would ask to "borrow" me so that she wasn't bothering Fenton.  Borrowing me meant I wouldn't be back in less than an hour, normally.  Fenton didn't like the way she would interrupt us and take me way.  It didn't help that the thought the things she needed me for were stupid.  She would require my help in picking out an outfit, deciding to keep something she had ordered online, or advice on how to respond to something someone said in a chat (this was back in the day when AOL was king and chat rooms were super cool).

Me and Cestus (obviously edited for my amusement)
At first it was okay, but then Fenton and I would argue about it.  He would be mad that I wouldn't tell her no.  Then I'd get mad that he would conveniently forgot how nasty things could turn when I did tell her no, and that I was trying to keep the peace.  We had both learned early on that refusing Cestus resulted in tension in the house that lasted for a few days.  Really no matter what I did I was pissing one of them off.  I hated fighting with Fenton, but if she was mad at me she took it out on both of us.  Eventually he saw my time with her as time he could be doing things he wanted to do and that helped with some of the fighting.

I felt like I had to tread carefully with Cestus.  She could be a very kind and giving person, I had see her do a lot of things above and beyond for friends.  But she had expectations and rules that could be really hard to figure out.  We went through a few really (really) rough patches.  There was the time I was living with them for about a month or two between roommates where Cestus and I had a falling out.  I was frustrated with her for not adhering to a schedule that she herself had created and was adamant that Fenton and I follow.  When I expressed my frustration about it, especially since Fenton and I were going to be late for class, she became enraged with me and wouldn't speak to me for nearly three months.  Her mom told me that Cestus felt I had attacked her for no good reason, and it was up to me to make the peace.  When I did attempt to make peace, they were deemed insincere attempts.  I finally just gave up, and moved out.  Then one day we were talking again.

There was also the situation with Mark.  Almost the whole time I knew Cestus she was infatuated with a guy she had met online named Mark.  They met in some chat room not long after Fenton and I started dating.  Online dating was still relatively new back then and she wanted help figuring out how to make it work.  She would borrow me to help her word responses to emails, or for advice on what to say in a chat.  Usually I didn't mind, and I tried to be helpful.  From what I could see, they seemed pretty interested in one another.  He sent her flowers and CDs.  She sent him gift boxes with baked goods and CDs.  Then they met in person, she flew out to meet him and his family and then he flew out to see her and meet her family.  Fenton and I hardly saw him when he visited because she kept him busy seeing the sights.  From what I could tell, things were going great between them.  They were chatting online and on the phone all the time and she seemed really happy.  Then things changed and I never really knew why.  She got spooked for some reason, maybe it all became too real for her, and she told him things were moving too fast and she needed some time.  He backed off, almost completely.  It seemed like a night and day change.  She would wait for him to log in and he wouldn't log in.  She would call him and get his voice mail and he wouldn't return the call.  And just when she would get frantic, he would make contact.  That became the relationship.  She would spend her time trying to keep his attention, and he would pay her just enough that she would stick around.  I suspected he was seeing other people, but she didn't want to hear that.  

Then late one night when I was goofing off online he signed in.  He and I didn't really chat, maybe a little when things were good with him and Cestus, but I had him on my list for her on the off chance that he was blocking her but forgot to block me.  I didn't say anything to him, but I noted that it was late for me and really late for him.  I was getting ready to log out when he sent me a message.  He asked me really strange questions like how much I liked to drink, and why didn't he see me more when he was out visiting.  It felt like he was hitting on me, and it wasn't the last time.  If he was hitting on me, he was without a doubt seeing other people.  Meanwhile, Cestus was only clinging tighter and refused to hear anything negative about Mark.  In her eyes he could do no wrong, she didn't believe he was capable of cheating on her or stringing her along.  I should have saved the chats and shown them to her, but I thought it would take something more drastic than a few chats to get through to her.  I had told my roommate at the time, Jayne, what was going on and together we came up with a plan.

Basically I would string him along, much like he was with Cestus.  The goal, besides having some chats to show Cestus, was to get him to fly out to meet me and have Cestus be the one to pick him up at the airport after having read the chats.  I had no interest in Mark, so I was only playing along with him enough to implement the plan.  I introduced hi to Jayne, who was also encouraging him to flirt, and together she and I started laying the groundwork for the plan.  Mark was a willing participant.  The one thing we weren't sure how we were going to accomplish was getting him to fly out and meet us.  It turned out we didn't have to do anything.  Mark was planning another trip out to see Cestus and suggested coming out a few days early to hang with Jayne and I.  He would show up at Cestus's house a few days later and surprise her.  I should have known it was too good to be true, things started going to hell in a hand basket.  Mark decided to bring a friend with him.  And while he was out they would be going to a concert with Cestus, so he no longer talked about coming out early.  I still had the chats I could show her but now I didn't have a good way to back them up, having her surprise him at the airport when he was expecting me was just too perfect.  Things were coming apart.

Mark and and his friend Jerry came out, and Cestus kept them busy and away from everyone.  It never even occurred to me to be worried.  I was invited up one of the nights they were there to meet Jerry and say hi to Mark, but that was it.  They were only staying for few nights, most of those would be out of town for the concert.  They were flying home the morning after the concert.  I didn't expect to hear from Cestus until a day or two after they had gone, she was usually pretty anti-social after telling Mark goodbye.  I was surprised when I got a call the day she dropped them off at the airport.  Cestus was pissed.  Jerry had told her I had been flirting with Mark and made it sound like I had been the aggressor instead of Mark.  Great.  How did I not see something like that coming.  She informed me she had told Fenton and their mother, and they all wanted to hear what I had to say for myself.  She told me they would be out at campus early the next day, her mom was meeting with one her clients, and she told me to meet them at one of the gymnasium on campus so we could talk face to face.  

As soon as I hung up the phone with Cestus, Fenton called.  I was glad I was going to have the chance to explain things to him in advance, and that I didn't have to figure out how I was going to call him without speaking to anyone else in the house.  He wanted to make sure I was okay.  He knew I had been up to something, I had told him I was working on something that would hopefully help Cestus see the truth about Mark, he just didn't know what it was that I was doing.  He thought his mom would understand, and eventually Cestus, but he warned me I was going to be on my own because he couldn't take a side in this.  I was not surprised, I found myself handling things alone a lot of the time.

That morning as I got ready to go over and meet them I briefly thought about printing some of the chats but decided that at that point it would do no good.  I also had no idea what I was going to say, I had a feeling it wouldn't matter.  Cestus was going to feel like she had something she could hold over me, and she would punish me with it whenever she felt like she needed to.  The best part was I was just going to have to take it if I wanted to continue to fit in with the family.  After all the time I had spent at their house, it was clear to me who the household revolved around, and I either had to accept it or move on.  I took a deep breath and entered the gym.  I didn't know it until I walked in, but I was walking into some volleyball tournament.  She had been watching for me, I saw her coming down the bleachers to get me.  Fenton and his mother were watching from their seats, I prayed I'd get hit in the head by one of the volleyballs flying around.  For once I didn't think I'd duck.  Cestus still looked pissed.  I had a feeling she wanted this all to go down in front of Fenton and their mom.  

The first question she had for me was did I have feelings for her boyfriend, and what the hell did I think I was doing.   I told her that I had absolutely no feelings for Mark whatsoever, and I told her this repeatedly throughout the interrogation.  I explained the plan to them and how I had intended for it to unfold.  They listened with minimal interruptions.  I tried to answer all their questions, I wanted to be clear I wasn't trying to hide anything.  When I told them everything I felt like her mom understood what I had been trying to do.  In talking with her prior I got the impression she did not trust Mark either, and wished her daughter see what a creep he was and move on.  But she would never say anything like that to Cestus.  After what seemed like forever, and a lot of glares from Cestus and squirming from me, she seemed satisfied I had told her everything.  She told me she didn't want me speaking to Mark, emailing Mark or contacting Mark in any way shape or form.   That was non-negotiable.  I promised her I was done and wanted nothing to do with him, and I meant it.  I knew without a doubt she was going to hold this over me for a very long time.

Life continued on.  Because of my betrayal, Cestus was distant and she stopped talking to me about Mark.  For the first time in a long time I knew nothing about her love life.  It was strange being out of the loop.  It also meant more time with Fenton, which meant more arguing (more about that in part 3).  Time does heal wounds, and Cestus and I did start to repair our friendship.  Things really started getting back to normal when she recruited me as webmaster for a fan club she had become involved in (there will be a post about that).  She was helping with event tickets, and made herself the contact between me and the rest of the fan club officers.  She was the one in control, and I let it be that way.  I was just relieved  we were talking again, it made interacting with the rest of the family much easier.  I knew the walls were coming down when she started talking about her love life again.  She had met someone new.  

This was a big deal!  I tried asking a question and she clammed up.  I was just going to have to let her tell me in her own time because of the trust issues I had created with the Mark incident.  As long as I didn't ask questions, we were fine.  His name was David and she had been "introduced" to him by a friend she met through the fan club and that knew David from school.  Cestus and David had been talking online for a few weeks now, and she sounded like she was really interested in him.  She talked about where he lived, that he was close to his family, wanted a family of his own, and was a really nice guy.  These were all things she was looking for in a guy, yet she was suspicious.  She was having her friends talk to him to make sure his story didn't change from person to person.  Now that she was talking about him with me she had me talk to him, but under very strict restrictions.  I could only talk to him on her AOL account, in her room, in her presence, and I was told what I could and could not say or ask.  I kind of felt like I was doing her bidding.

I didn't have to chat with him much to believe he was a genuinely nice guy.  I felt bad that she was testing him with all her friends, but he seemed to take it in stride and had a sense of humor about most of it.  I liked him.  He seemed real and vulnerable, and I wanted him to be happy.  It was around that time that Fenton and I were starting to grow apart/fall apart (see Part 3), so my time to assist Cestus was limited.  I think my unavailability made me somehow more necessary and Cestus reluctantly asked if I would continue to chat with David and help her learn more about him.  She also wanted me to be saying good things about her.  She still wanted to know what was said, but at least she didn't want to be reading over my shoulder or telling me exactly what to say.  I didn't mind, I enjoyed chatting with David and I thought I might actually be doing a good thing for two people.  Not that she really needed my help, he seemed interested enough.  I was able to offer him insight about why she was the way she was about some things, including how her relationship with Mark affected her relationships after Mark.  I also told him that I wasn't convinced she was over Mark yet, but that I thought maybe he could help her with that.

The more I talked to David, the more I wanted to protect him.  I didn't always agree with the way she treated him.  I felt like she was doing to David what Mark was still doing to her.  I tried really hard not to talk bad about Cestus.  She already thought I was the kind of friend who would steal her boyfriend, and I wanted to show her I was not that person.  So, I bit my tongue and tried to be the kind of friend I would have wanted.  It did get to the point where I told her what I thought of how she was treating David, and of course that went over well.  She told him he was crowding her and that he needed to give her some space.  She instructed me that I could no longer speak with him about her.  He and I did talk about more than her, and she might have been surprised to learn my world didn't revolve around her.  I had my own relationship issues to deal with.

No comments:

Post a Comment