Pam really doesn’t want to go. When she RSVPed to this, she thought she’d be newly married, taking the opportunity to show the women—girls, really, is how she still thought of them, both given how they used to be and how they’d acted—who teased her so mercilessly at their five-year reunion about being in a rut with Roy that she’d finally managed to close the deal.
Now she really doesn’t want to face those girls.
Or Roy. She hopes he won’t be there, but who is she kidding? He was the quarterback. He peaked in high school. She can see that now. So he’ll be there. He wouldn’t miss the chance to relive that.
So why is she going?
Well, the tickets weren’t free, there’s that. And she’s not exactly flush with spare spending money. Setting up life solo isn’t cheap, and she doesn’t get to go out a lot. There’s two dinners and a luncheon at the reunion, and she’s looking forward to having someone else cook for her, even if they’re also cooking for the rest of her high school class.
And more importantly she’s not going to cede their joint past to him. Just because he’s still stuck there doesn’t mean it isn’t hers too. So in a way going to this is her way of saying “I, Pam Beesly, went to high school too. I lived my life. And I don’t need to be with Roy to be me.”
Not that anyone is going to hear her say that.
But she’s going to think it real loud, and maybe that will help.
Because right now it’s two weeks after her supposed-to-be wedding date, and she’s really not feeling this. She’s not going to back down now. But it might be nice to have someone to go with.
She thinks briefly of Jim. It’s not like she could bring him to something like this anyway. He and Roy…do not get along. And it would be even worse on Roy’s home turf—doubly so because Roy probably still thinks of her as his home turf too.
He’s wrong, but she’s pretty sure he still thinks it.
Still, this is the kind of time when she really needs her best friend. Even if she didn’t want him to be more than that, Jim always believed in her. And she needs a big dose of belief right now. Because it’s really, really hard to keep telling herself she belongs at her high school without Roy, and if there’s anyone who could—who would—tell her that she does, and mean it, mean it without needing to think about it, or hedging it, or doing it out of pity, it’s Jim.
Before she can stop herself she’s texting him. She hasn’t reached out before. First, it was because he left. He left. And he didn’t say anything to her about it. It hurt. It hurt more than it should have, if what she’d said to him that day was true. But it hurt just the right amount for how she really felt. And she felt like she deserved it, and like she’d forfeited her right to reach out to him, and like he’d abandoned her all at once. So she hadn’t reached out.
After she called off the wedding she didn’t reach out for a subtly different reason. It felt unfair to Roy, but even more so unfair to herself. She needed the non-wedding to be about her and Roy: their relationship, their problems, their falling out of love. It couldn’t be about her and Jim, even if she realized she wanted him, needed him. Which she did. But the wedding couldn’t be about that. So she didn’t reach out.
But now she needed her best friend. So she was typing and sending and barely knew what she’d written. She checked. “Hi Jim. It’s Pam.” Oh, great start, so original.
Her phone beeped.
And there he was. In the palm of her hand. What the hell was she going to do with him?
Well, in for a penny, in for a pound her mom always said.
“I called off my wedding.” Duh. He must already have known that. He called her Beesly.
So why the hell didn’t he call?
Why didn’t she? She knew why, but it hadn’t really occurred to her before that he didn’t.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before, I just needed to work out some things.”
“Things worked out? You OK?”
That was so Jim. No angst, no recriminations, just…legitimate, honest concern for her and her wellbeing. Why hadn’t she done this sooner? Not “last two weeks” sooner. Last four years sooner.
Ring. Ring. Ring.
Even though the phone was in her hand it took a moment for her to realize he was calling, she was so surprised.
How had she missed that this man was in love with her?
“…so what’s up, Beesly? Missing me already?”
“I dunno, Halpert, I’m pretty sure you’re the one missing me. You answered me pretty fast. Just waiting by the phone?”
Pause. OK, that one was probably a little close to home.
“I didn’t mean it like that. I’m sorry I didn’t…”
“I know, Pam, you said.”
“I meant what I asked. You OK?”
“I…I’m gonna be. But it doesn’t help that you’re in Stamford right now.”
“Pam, I had to leave, after…”
“Yeah. I get it. But you didn’t tell me.”
“I tried. On Casino Night. You heard what came out instead.”
“That’s what you were trying to do?”
Deep breath. This is your best friend. Deep breath.
“Well, given the choice, I’m glad you said what you said.”
“How am I supposed to take that, Pam?”
“That I’d rather know how you felt-“
“-than just know you were leaving.” Feel, hmm? “Although I would have liked to know both. If they were both true.”
Still on the present tense.
“Listen, Jim, if you still feel…”
“Pam. Can we not do this now?”
“Why not?” Why is he pushing me away?
“Because I’m going to be in Scranton in two weeks. My mom’s birthday. Can we talk then?”
Oh. That’s better.
“Oh, oh, yes.”
“So Beesly, you dodged my question. What’s up?”
“Well, I’ve got a new apartment.”
“Yep. And I’m drawing more. And painting. And I’ve started taking long walks…”
“…and my high school reunion is tonight.”
“That’s gotta be tough.”
“I have an idea.”
Oh thank god. She hadn’t really thought when she texted Jim. She literally had just let her thumbs go. But this was what she’d been hoping for without realizing she was.
“Anytime you see something that you need to tell someone about—something you like, something that bothers you, something you just thought was funny for a moment—you text me about it. That way things won’t get overwhelming, and you can just enjoy yourself.”
“That sounds…lovely, Jim. Are you sure it won’t put you out?”
“Beesly, I’m living out of a suitcase in the great metropolis that is Stamford, Connecticut. I think my social schedule is sufficiently free to get you through one high school reunion.”
“Are you sure? There’s two dinners, one with a dance, and a luncheon.”
“I somehow think I will manage.”
She could hear his smile through the phone. She fell back on her bed and suddenly looked at the clock.
“Oh dear, Jim, I’m going to be late!”
“Well, I can see how it would be difficult to text me if you’re still on the phone, so I suppose I’ll let you go.”
“Sound logic there, Halpert.”
“I try. So I’ll hear from you tonight, right?”
The reunion was exactly as bad as she thought it would be. The girls were unavoidable, irrepressible, and unabashedly teased her for “letting Roy slip through her fingers.” Roy himself was drunk, raucous, and ostentatiously hanging on a girl she thought used to be a cheerleader back in the day. And Pam didn’t care at all.
She cared a little more when her phone bill came the next month. She really needed to get unlimited texting.
But by then she’d talked to Jim. In person. And her cell phone bill—and the reunion—were about the last thing on her mind.