Dear Sarah

November 5, 2007
By Tracey Hickey, Colmar, PA

I'll be straightforward. I'm writing this because I have a confession to make. The confession is that you've been the bane of my existence for something like a year. When I found out my boyfriend asked me out on the rebound from you, I lied my ass off when I said I was totally over it. It isn't like you did anything wrong. In fact, I guess I should be thanking you. If you hadn't turned him down, we wouldn't be together. And that's the problem, isn't it?
He went to you first! I was sure he liked me, he even sent me that valentine…but it didn't matter. He went to you first. He knew I liked him! I told him I liked him! But he was willing to take a gamble on you before he'd finally settle for me. And that makes me really angry.
If it's any consolation, I didn't mean to be dishonest with you. I paved myself halfway to Satan's doorstep with my intentions. It wasn't your fault, so I didn't want you feeling guilty over a big wrench you'd thrown into our relationship completely by accident – it wouldn't have been fair.
In retrospect, a little honesty would have gone a long way towards making this disappear, but it just seemed so awkward. When in an average conversation is it appropriate to casually mention that I have to spend half an hour picking out my outfit every time I hang out with you so you don't look SO much better than me that I cry myself to sleep that night? (I learned my lesson that August evening and will NEVER look that frumpy around the two of you again. Don't pretend you didn't notice.) I mean, being honest about stuff like this…it seems easy, but it's not. “Hey, Tracey, how are you and Ben?” “Oh, we'd be great if it weren't for the fact that every time he says your name I want to gouge my eyes out.” Ideal friendly banter? Not really. There was just no way to work it into a decent conversation.
We have too much in common. We've got the same interests, the same sense of humor, the same basic speech patterns…we had the same long brown hair before I hacked mine off…we're both smart, we're both overachievers – though that probably means more for you than for me because you go to that fancy private school – and it makes it more difficult, our being so alike. Any other girl and I are apples and oranges, but you and I are both apples, except you're bigger and shinier and organically grown and you haven't got that weird little brown spot. Everything that I am, you are a little bit better. It's enough to make anybody crazy.
I could have forgiven you if you didn't have to be a writer. You crossed the line with being a writer – a GOOD writer, damn it, it isn't fair at all. I can put up with every other goddamn superiority of yours but writing is my territory and it's all I have. You've got no right to show up one day with this beautiful story that's deep and poetic and all that stuff that my story and my writing is NOT. You can't do that to me. You're good at other things, it's not the same for you. I'm worthless at everything else. This is all I've got. You aren't allowed to take it from me.
But I'm over it (I swear I mean it this time!) and so what I've got to say is: I'm sorry. I'm sorry that literally everyone but you knows about this little past obsession of mine. I'm sorry if it ever hurt our friendship and I'm sorry it made me secretly hostile to you. I'm sorry about how I picked you apart, searching desperately for a flaw that I could feel good about. I'm sorry I went against everything I believe about sisterhood and solidarity and how the patriarchy wants to turn women against each other in competition to keep us from uniting and keep us down, and turned a friend you value into a stereotypically catty, neurotic girl. I'm sorry I made our friendship a contest and handed you a blue ribbon without asking if you wanted to enter. I'm sorry I made you my rival.
And I'm sorry because I know now that this wasn't just my issue. Because I on the grapevine that you don't always look at yourself in the best light either when you think of me. And why? Because I'm thin. Of all the stupid things. But I'm sorry I didn't catch on until now, and I'm sorry if you EVER had a moment where you felt as bad about me as I felt about you.
I'm sorry we wasted so much time being arch-rivals behind each other's backs for lack of a little bit of understanding, and it's time to say enough. I've got better things to do. How about you?

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