Day 10 (Part Two) : Someone you need to let go of, or wish you didn’t know.
Lea and Liz, the first entry, started to describe the nature of relationships I had with my three high school friends. It is the preface for this. In summation, we were a group of best friends, entangled in each others’ lives. Mistakes, grudges, and other forces created huge divides between us, leaving lingering hatreds spanning years.
Liz. My oldest, most cherished, oldest friend. I was ecstatic that we could remain friends, while irked that a thread still connected the camps. But, I couldn’t let something that petty destroy such a long time, deep friendship. I let it fly.
Because, we were the best of friends. I spent most of my summers on her roof or in her tree. Her mother was more of a mother to me than my own. We were on a first name basis, and bummed cigarettes from one another.
Liz knew all of my dirty secrets, and I knew hers. And above the whispers were video games, art projects, and online chatting.
Liz always had this penchant for making me feel inferior. We couldn’t be different people. There she was, sleek and poised, not a hair out of place. Sure, she was curvier than I was, but infinitely better dressed. Her room was immaculate, just as she was. Liz had organizers for her organizers.
She took all of the advanced classes for college credits, and had a perfect average. Her friends were numerous, from all walks, and her enemies zero. Nobody could possibly hate sweet, whispering Liz.
Then, there was me. Frizzy, long, untamed red hair that could rival Medusa. My clothes always had some kind of imperfection, a rip, a snag. A part of me always looked badly patched, as if one loose thread would make it all come apart. My room was a mess, covered in layers of clothes, papers, and books. Nothing seemed to have a proper place.
I took remedial classes, though I was gifted. The pressure of higher courses was too much for me. I was already hardly functioning at the level I was on. (Early symptoms of bipolar disorder). I was tortured and dark; this was no secret amongst the student body. I had no true friends, unless you count the cult entourage. And, I had made a number of enemies.
That was (is?) me, Em. Outspoken, rude, ridiculous, dramatic, vulgar, crass, obscene, crazy Em. I was a one woman show who earned her red A by having sex as a freshman.
I would feel certain tinges of envy from time to time. How come I can’t be so pristine and graceful? Why can’t I get my shit together and live up to my potential? Eventually, I came to find a cozy home in the music wing, while Liz wrestled her way through academia.
Liz was neutral and remained so. She had even gone as far as to remove herself from it entirely when she joined drama club. Naturally, I was dragged into it. I was the only person who could play the sax part, and Liz just wouldn’t leave it alone.
And that’s when we met The Actor. He was a senior when we were sophomores. His personality was larger than life, and he was literally a character. He could be anyone, day to day, effortlessly sliding into natural roles of his everyday life. It was a sight to behold. And Liz was head over heels.
Personally, I felt he was a great guy and all. I was already committed, and The Actor wasn’t my type. But, I seemed to have caught his eye. The Actor wasn’t a man to chase, only one to drop hints and innuendo. I wasn’t totally oblivious, admittedly. I was flattered.
In the time period while working on the fall production, Liz got the nerve to ask The Actor out. She was thrilled when he accepted. But, he never actually took her anywhere. He’d come to her house, they would chat as friends do, and then they’d mess around for awhile. No sex, just messing around.
A few months passed and these became less frequent. Liz finally confronted him and discovered that their encounters were a complete secret. He broke it off “because it didn’t feel right.” Days later, he announced his relationship with a very respected girl in the thespian community.
She was his secret buddy, because he was too ashamed of her.
Her first “boyfriend” was not really that at all. It stung for me to watch that happen. And I detested that boy. Except, she didn’t. She still held out hope and lent her heart to him.
The following summer, after that turbulent year, she made an admission to me while sitting on her picnic table during that cool, clear summer night. “I envy you. I’ve envied you for years. You say what you mean, and you mean what you say. You don’t wrap it up in a pretty, little package. And people adore you for it. You are admired by others and fawned over by men.”
“Funny. I envy you. How you are able to have a handle on everything. Everything looks so effortless and natural. You have an air about you that screams refinement, maturity, intelligence. You don’t even have to speak to have people respect you.”
And we laughed. The grass is always greener, right?
Throughout the next year, we made a mutual friend via a MUD. He was a God (administrator), and he took a fancy to us. He was nice. Inside the inn was a secret door that led to private player rooms. And, it was there that much went on behind closed doors. Many things we didn’t immediately exchange between one another.
Eventually, they grew a real life, long distance relationship outside of the MUD. And once that happened, all interpersonal communication between Fox and I stopped.
It was all strange. He was more than twice her age, married, and living several states away. But, I indulged her. Liz had many things, obsessions perhaps, that never came to fruition. It was best to have her hope.
Another year passed. We made a mutual decision to drop out of school and attend a cyber-program. For different reasons. She signed up for three AP classes, and was failing two of them. I warned her it was too much of a course load. Personally, I was bored in remedial classes and felt I was not being challenged.
That spring, that’s when we met him. The man with the alluring accent, and the purring voice. He owned any room he graced his presence with, and one couldn’t help but take notice. His words were wise, insightful, and intelligent. It was prose in every breath and absolutely intoxicating.
It was C.S. Liz was smitten. I was on the fence. (Longer story that will connect later). But who wasn’t immediately striken? Gorgeous beyond words, sophisticated in a way we only saw in college brochures. He had a wise look about him, covered in a beard and a mustache that aged him five years. Most of the boys we knew hardly had chest hair.
We were quick friends. Liz had already committed herself to The Fox, but she admitted, “In the instance that things fall through, there is always the opportunity of a possible normal relationship with C.S.”
Another year, come and gone. Uneventful and irrelevant. We are now to the spring of our senior year. I was newly single. I spent the vast majority of my teen dating years in a committed relationships. I was completely lost at dating.
The Actor had freshly arrived back into town, prepared for his summer away from college. Naturally, he contacted his best girls, Liz and me. Upon finding out my new relationship status (prior to Facebook, we had to rely on word of mouth), he asked me out. I was ambivalent, but I agreed. Maybe I was wrong about him.
No, I was right about him. We went back to his mother’s place and talked. We kissed a little, but there wasn’t anything there. We didn’t click, as nice as he was to me.
I guess this was still a sore spot for Liz. Oops. I had figured that after two years and several short lived boyfriends later, she wouldn’t care. That was the first time we fell out. I profusely apologized and insisted that nothing happened. Voicemail after voicemail. And eventually, I had to stop. It was killing me.
We were speaking again in the fall. Everyone had scurried off to college but us. We were still in transition, attempting to figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up.
An old high school friend of ours reappeared. Raz was always a cool, quirky, kind of awkward guy, but in a cute way. He was fairly popular in certain circles.
In the dead of a September night, he phoned us and insisted we were leaving the state to head to the casino. It was thrilling. I had the most wonderful company, great tunes, and we were embarking on a new journey, sans map.
Miles of highway, and a half a dozen penny slots later, Liz and I stood in a women’s room. She candidly asked me, “Do you think Raz is cute?”
I responded, “Sure, I’ve though so since school. But, you know, I’m involved.”
She ecstatically concurred, “So did I! The Fox and I have been on and off for awhile now.”
You know where this is going.
A couple months later, I was single again, unemployed and crashing on C.S.’s sofa. One day, Raz and Adrienne stopped by rather unexpectedly. There I was, greasy hair in a floppy bun, clad only in an oversized band T-shirt, and a pair of gym shorts, elbow deep in dishwater.
We all gathered and had a lovely visit. The very same night, Raz called. “Would you like to go out on a date? I mean, if you’ve available.” My little teen girl was squealing inside.
“Yeah, that sounds great!” I answered. It was the first time I had been asked on a proper date. I finally felt less like a peace of meat and more like a woman. Proper, respectable.
It was another blunder of mine, apparently. By date three, Liz was not speaking to me again. She used some lame excuse, but it was pretty transparent. Even after Raz and I concluded our brief relationship, Liz was still silent. And by now, I was pretty pissed at her petty reactions every single time I dated a guy she was interested in.
My birthday broke the silence. And in another month, I received a call asking for her blessing on taking Raz up on an offer for a date. Whatever. I was laying on a futon in an expensive apartment on the rich side of the city, stoned out of my mind. I was doing way better than lame Italian restaurants in the suburbs, long drives in the country, and listening to the inane dribble.
Later, when The Fox and Liz were back on, she made an admission. After I went on the singular date with The Actor, she had an encounter. She got her teenage desire in the back of a car, in a vacant parking lot. And it was the most unsatisfying experience ever.
All debts were settled, all scores even, and all forgiven. That was that.
Or was it?
To be continued . . .
Wonderful description of all the ways girl’s friendships are complicated and beautiful and maddening…
In the end, it didn’t work out of the best. Unbeknownst to me, it was a very toxic relationship. The thing that killed it was when I married C.S. (also referred to a Xan and husband on this blog). Well, maybe not even then. Maybe seeing our newborn child. My son turns four in a month. I haven’t seen her face to face since that day.