Ross was in his apartment, his phone pressed to his cheek. Emily was on the line. It had taken him an incredible amount of energy and effort to even have her talk to him, he was determined to say whatever it took to get her back to New York.
“All right, Emily, as much as I love you, I’m sorry, I can’t move to London without Ben.”
It pained him to say, because if he didn’t have a young son, he would have gone to London for her.
“I understand that would be difficult.” Emily said on the other end.
“Would you please concider moving here?” Ross pleaded softly. “I mean, you were going to move here anyway, why can’t you just do that?” He knew it wasn’t an argument, but it came out before he thought about it.
“Oh, I don’t know…” Emily replied hesitantly, “It’s just…”
“Okay, okay, but, but,” Ross interjected, having noticed her doubt bending his way, “I know, that even though I’ve been a complete idiot up till now… I mean, y-you have to come here. You have to, so we can work this out together.”
“All right.” she said in a resigned sort of voice.
Ross’ heart leapt.
“All right? Did you just say ‘all right’?” He had to make sure he heard her correctly.
“I did. Now I’m the idiot.”
Ross could hear her smiling. The smile he had fallen for so suddenly. It was like a weight lifted.
“Oh, Emily, that is so great!” he said in earnest. “It’s gonna be so great, like… like, like two idiots in love!”
He could practically see them embracing again here in his living room. Emily was chuckling at his elation. He stayed quiet for a second, smiling.“Ross, there’s one thing that really scares me still.”
“Yes, tell me.” he answered, wanting to remove every roadblock there might still be for her.
“You have to understand how humiliating it was for me up
on that altar in front of my entire family, all my friends.”
“I know. I am… I am so sorry.” Ross said and he meant it. Even now he still didn’t understand how it could have happened. He was so in love, feeling really happy at that particular moment, what with all the drama in the days leading up to the wedding finally done. He had felt at peace. And then he had blurted out “I take thee, Rachel.” How or why, he’ll never know.
“And then, after deciding to forgive you… seeing you at
the airport, catching our plane with her.”
“Again, very sorry.”
He could have kicked himself. But in that moment, he had been lost. He didn’t have any clue where Emily was, nor how to reach her. He thought going to Greece would at least give him some time and space to think and then Rachel was there, waiting for a plane. It wasn’t thàt crazy an idea, was it? Rachel was one of his best friends and he had messed up his wedding and probably marriage. She would have been there for him, listening to his misery, just as a friend. He certainly didn’t have any feelings for her anymore, so what was the harm? But then Emily had shown up at the last possible second… Seeing Rachel board the plane with him. How could he not have gone after her! It was not how it looked! But he knew it looked really, really bad.
“I mean, I can’t be in the same room as her,” Emily continued, “it drives me mad just thinking of you being in the same room as her.”
Ross stood up, not having noticed he had actually sat down.“Emily, there is nothing between Rachel and me.” he said as calmly as he could. It was the truth. “Okay? I love you.”
“All right,” Emily replied in a kind of shaky voice. Ross tensed.
“I’ll come to New York and we’ll try to make this work.”
He unclenched again.
“Ah, that is so great! That’s…”
“As long as you don’t see Rachel anymore.” she interjected.
Ross fell quiet and sat down again, crestfallen.
“Ross? Did you hear me?” Emily asked.
He nodded, even though nobody could see him.
“I heard you, Emily. Give… give me a second.”
His mind raced. What would this mean in daily life? Rachel was Monica’s roommate. Even if he could promise to break his friendship with Rachel, he would have to stay away from his younger sister as well. And Chandler and Joey, who lived across the hall. Forever. To make his wife happy. It was like a brick fell into his stomach from a great height. It dawned on him how stupid he’d been, not only to say the wrong name, but to even get engaged with someone he barely knew. He could never stop seeing Rachel, even if their friendship-circle hadn’t been so entwined. She had been a part of his life for such a long time and even though there were no romantic feelings left, he still loved her as a friend. This wasn’t Rachel’s fault. She had had the guts to come to England, even though it was difficult for her. She had been so brave, to congratulate Ross on his wedding, being there for him last minute. There was no way he could ever give up that friendship in a million years. No matter how much he loved Emily and wanted to be with her. It was simply not possible and he knew it.
“Emily… I’m so sorry I have to say this, but I cannot give you that.”
“And why not?” Emily asked, sort of indignant.
“She’s my sister’s roommate and best friend, she’s friends with my two best friends, I’d not only be giving up my friendship with Rachel, but with all of them. I love you, Emily, but my friends are practically my family. I can’t cut all of them out of my life for you. It’s too much.”
He sighed. Emily said nothing.
“Will you please still come to New York, at least to talk in person? You have to understand, there is nothing between me and Rachel anymore and there never will be. She’s just a friend.”
“How can you do this to me?” Emily said loudly. “I
thought I’d made my feelings about Rachel perfectly clear.”
“Look, Emily, she’s just a friend. They’re all my friends, okay?”
“You obviously can’t keep away from her.” Emily said accusingly.
“Emily, that’s ridiculous. Look, I would move for you, but I’m not cutting all my friends and my sister out of my life for you. Please, just get on a plane and come to New York, okay? You’ll see. You’re the only person I want to be with.”
“I’ll feel better when I’m there… and I can know where you are all the time.”
This time Emily had crossed a line.
“Well, you can’t know where I am all the time.” Ross said sadly. He sighed. “Look, this marriage is never going to work if you don’t trust me.”
“You’re right.” Emily answered.“So… can you trust me?” Ross asked, knowing the answer in advance. Emily was quiet for a while.
“No.” she said.
Ross didn’t breathe for a few seconds. Would someone who only saw him from behind be able to tell he was looking as miserable and sad as he did right now?
“I understand. We might have been making a mistake anyway. Maybe it’s best to stop it right here, before either of us becomes really unhappy.”
“I’m already really unhappy, Ross.”
“I’m sorry, Emily. Let’s… Let’s hang up the phone and I’ll think over what the next step will be. I’ll call you in a couple of days, okay? I’m sorry about all of this.”
“Me too. Bye, Ross.” Emily hung up the phone, leaving Ross listening to the dial tone for about an minute.
“Well, I guess that’s it.” he mused out loud. “My marriage is over.”
This was his second marriage before he even turned thirty
and it hadn’t even lasted for a month. He hadn’t even seen or held his wife
since the airport fiasco. The last thing she had said to him in close proximity
was “I hate you.”
Ross threw the phone on the couch and sighed. He decided to go to Monica’s. The sooner he could say out loud it was over, the sooner he would accept it himself. His friends would be there for him. Like they’ve been there before.