First order of business. This recipe for chilaquiles is awesome and will feed a crowd.
Second order of business: The problem of an ex-friend and her ex-stuff.
Dear Captain Awkward:
About a year ago my ex and I were really good friends with this girl Tara who we both worked with. The three of us liked to get really drunk (all together, or any combination of two of us and some of our other mutual friends) and more often than not everyone would end up sleeping over at my apartment, since I had a big place right across the street from our workplace. Tara had a rather annoying habit of getting way drunker than anyone else and taking all of her clothes off, so inevitably I would have to take care of her, put her to bed with a puke bowl, and collect the various clothing items strewn across the apartment (and hallway, and elevator, and street, etc). I told her on more than one occasion that I would really rather not do that, but I really couldn’t bear to just abandon her naked in the street, y’know? No one else in our social group was ever sober enough to deal with her either, so it was me or no one. Before long though, I realized that I was missing things. Just little things, like a half bottle of vodka, or the pack of cigarettes that I would swear I left on the kitchen table, or the container of tortellini in my vegetable crisper, and it got frequent enough that it was OBVIOUSLY her stealing from me. Now, I’m not a super selfish person, if she was really destitute and she really wanted something of mine, I would probably have just given it to her. But stealing, especially from a friend, crosses a MAJOR line.
So, fast forward a bit. I quit that job after last summer and broke up with my girlfriend who worked there, and I totally cut ties with Tara. After our “friend breakup” I noticed that I still had a few of her things at my house from the times when she’d left them there (mostly clothes, a couple of books, some nail polish, stuff like that) so I called her up and asked when would be a convenient time for her to pick them up or for me to drop them off at her house. It took almost a month of phone tag to arrange a time and place to meet, and she stood me up. I tried again and she stood me up a second time. I decided that it wasn’t worth it, and I incorporated a few of her things into my wardrobe and gave away the rest. I hadn’t seen her for 6 months when I ran into her at a bar while I was wearing one of her bracelets. She recognized it and lost her shit and yelled at me, so I left. (I didn’t give the bracelet back at the time.) A week later I emailed her and explained that I had tried to return her stuff before but she stood me up, so I had gotten rid of some of her stuff and decided to keep the rest, but if she was seriously missing her stuff STILL then she was welcome to come to my apartment on x, y, or z days to pick it up. She said sure, and didn’t show up.
IMO, that’s the end of that. Or at least it ought to be. But over the last month or so she’s been harassing me nonstop asking for her stuff back. She calls me, texts me, sends me Facebook messages and emails, and I don’t know what to do. At first I gave her a noncommittal response (“I don’t know what time will work for me, I’m pretty busy right now”), but now I just want to tell her to take a long walk off a short pier. Am I the bitch here? I really feel like it’s unreasonable of her to treat my home like her own private storage unit, especially after she stole from me. How should I respond to her? More importantly, how should I respond to our (thankfully few) remaining mutual friends who she’s enlisted to hassle me about her stuff?
Time to scorch the earth. This fight over the stuff (and her endless inability to either collect it or let the whole thing go) is really about her wanting to feel aggrieved and remain engaged in conflict with you. It’s not about the stuff. As long as you have the stuff she can still feel connected to you (even if it’s a dysfunctional connection).
First, box up the stuff – ALL the stuff. The stuff you’ve incorporated into your wardrobe, etc. Second, send her an email:
BCC: All your mutual friends who she’s been bothering about it
I’ve tried to return you things on (date), (date), and (date), but you’ve broken all of our appointments. Please plan to drop by to pick up your stuff today or tomorrow between (time) and (time). If it’s still here in 72 hours, you can find it on (back porch/front steps/in the alley), and I can’t be responsible for it anymore.
Then, when she does not come to claim it, put it on the curb/in the alley wherever and don’t think about it anymore.
Defriend her on all social media.
Block her email address.
Send her calls directly to voice mail.
If your friends bring her up, say “Sorry, she and I don’t interact anymore. Can’t help you.”
Because, let’s be honest: When and if she does pick up the stuff, she will hassle you forever about stuff that’s missing, lost, broken. Let her send those messages into the great void. It’s time to put a stake through the heart of this connection that refuses to die. Every time you interact with her you buy yourself 3-4 more weeks of unwanted hassle. Ruthlessly cut all ties. She’ll find someone else to become dysfunctionally connected to.
P.S. Bonus if you put an African Violet in with the stuff.
P.P.S. If you do that, please take a photo and send it!