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My Best Friend (Lost)

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We've been friends since the beginning of middle school. You know how it is. The first day, full of confusion and shyness and maybe a few who already know each other. You look at each person, searching for some abstract indicator that the two of you could be friends. You nervously sit down next to your unexplainable choice, introduce yourself, and more often than not, become best school friends. The one, when the teacher calls for partners, you immediately look towards and smile, nod. Because they've turned towards you too.

It was a good year. We had fun, with each other and later with the select others who merged with us into one cohesive friend group. But us two remained special friends, best friends. I never thought about how poorly I really knew her, or how we'd rarely meet outside of school.

The next year, seventh grade, was when we started to change. No, not "we". She. She was the one who began wearing contacts, makeup, and Aéropostale, all the things we had previously condemned as the vanities of the "popular" crowd. While I resolutely adhered to my nerd pride, she was on her way to becoming one of the thin, pretty, have-it-all girls I so envied and despised. But she was still my best friend. I surrendered a fraction of who I was and what I believed to fit her new lifestyle, agreeing that Aéropostale wasn't so bad, even purchasing a shirt I wasn't thin or attractive enough to wear, experimentally reading The Clique, and appearing just as curious as to who a certain boy in our class liked. I lost part of myself, but kept my best friend.

We didn't truly fall apart until eighth grade. That was the year she made new friends, undeniably cooler friends, who would laugh and tease while I stood alone, forgotten. After months of trying to fit in, constantly either out of place or despairingly lonely, and nearly losing my other friends in the process, I saw what I was doing to myself. I gave up then, passively watching as my former best friend and I grew farther and farther apart. The bond between us stretched, more than I thought it could take. But it never broke. We remained friends, and I continued to call her my best friend.

That summer, she sent me an instant message. She was moving, she said. Her family had been on the verge of moving for over a year now, far back enough that she had told me, her best friend, first. She continued, Everyone was really upset. The others she had already told were crying, swearing, threatening suicide. I alone was unmoved, typing back unoriginal messages, That really sucks, and sad emoticons. I was surprised and a little ashamed to realize how little I cared. I was about to lose my best friend! Doesn't that matter? But no, I realized. In that moment, I saw through all my own delusions. I had lost her that first summer after sixth grade, the summer she had tried to change. The girl I knew had been stifled by a new persona, one who wasn't happy with being a nerd like the friends she left behind, and eventually disappeared. And so, while the others mourn the loss of the façade, I continue to mourn the true human being that was lost long ago, and all the others who have let themselves become lost.



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jav said...
Jun. 24, 2009 at 10:47 am:
hey, nice work.
 
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