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Best Friend Forever or Waste of My Time?
The rain had pounded against the walls of my elementary school. I’d trudged in with a sigh. The dark, dreary day of 2006 was only reflective of my mood for those past 3rd grade months. My mind wandered back to happier days, days where I played with Bethany constantly on the forever-hated playground, a place of rejection and hard feelings.
Those days consisted of best friendships, without any thought whatsoever about if they would last very long or not. If they were your friend, they had to be your best friend too, or else they were extremely offended. My classmates just generalized that, when we grow up, we would still be friends. BFFs are so rare, and we hadn’t realized that yet.
“Okay, um, I want Emma to go with Cassie, Jenny, you go with Bethany,” She pointed to the platinum-blonde girl standing across from me. Our kindergarten teacher put all 22 of us into pairs, not very unusual for a first day of kindergarten. We went to stand by each other, seeing as there were many other blondes in our class, and we didn’t want to lose or forget who the other was.
Bethany and I quickly became good friends, both entitling the other “best friend”, as opposed to just “friend”. I believed that nothing could separate us- which, at the time, was true, because nothing had, not yet. The prototype of “Best Friends Forever” (BFFs) was almost fact. That was, of course, before Bethany decided she wanted some different friends.
It was Bethany who had a gorgeous tan; it was her that screamed at the most annoying boys on the playground (i.e. her brother, Blake; Levi; Danny; Elijah; ect.) for running up behind her and scaring her, pulling her hair, or just angering her; Bethany was the one who’s hair only got lighter (since all she wanted to do was tan once she was older than 9.). Her sunburns could be peeling for a week. (Once, after spring break, her nose was red for two weeks once. It was hilarious.) She always wanted to wear makeup, from lip gloss to lipstick.
Then I came back to 2006. My own personal dark ages had started when I got ditched by my so-called friend, Bethany. She caused that heart-wrenching feeling of rejection when you know you just aren’t good enough, not once, not twice, but every time I saw her laughing without me, and with her new friends instead. One would automatically join them, but I was clearly not yet invited. My mind remembered when that feeling began.
I felt the ache of my back from bending down to pick the prickles under the scorching September sun. I was soon joined by my then locker partner, Kristina. One day, she asked me some questions about why I did this every day.
“Well, I just do it because it’s something to do,” I’d responded “It also helps keep these out of my shoes. I won’t play the unorganized soccer games, and Mrs. Delo makes sure there is no bar game, so I just come here.” I gestured to the prickles.
“That must take a lot of dedication. So, how are things with Bethany going?”
“Like usual. I wish I knew what I did to make her ditch me.”
“Yeah. I bet you do. So do I.” Kristina assumed sympathetically.
I don’t know where I would be without Kristina. She proved a true friend to me, more than once (which beats Bethany’s record). Kristina, with her slightly wild, mousy brown hair was a sight I was relieved to see; my pillar of encouragement. Unfortunately, she was one of the shyest girls in our class, so I was one of her elementary friends (which was around five, not including her three sisters).
I sighed again as I recalled what had happened after I stopped picking, because it got too cold, and the prickles disappeared and were covered with the glistening snow, the snow that provided a listening ear for my troubles. I’d started hanging out with a 4th grader from my neighborhood and her friend. That was during the winter months.
Caroline was a girl of medium height, with cropped strawberry blonde/orange hair. Her freckles really stood out on her fair skin. Leah was a slightly shorter girl. Her hair was a little darker than Kristina’s, but longer and wavier.
We would sit by the frozen kickball field, scraping ice off the wooden benches, talking in the icy winter air. Caroline and Leah looked like they sort of accepted me; like how you would accept a weird classmate into your circle of close friends versus how you accept a true friend.
That’s how it was, until they approached me once I was dumping out my milk around February. “Um, Jenny, no offense, but you know…. Well, we just think you are a little annoying, and um, we don’t really want to hang out with you anymore. Like, no offense, or anything. You’re really nice, and everything, but you’re too immature.”
“It’s okay. I understand.” I replied. I t really didn’t bother me, because I knew that it would come some day.
Once the warm weather has started again, I play kickball with some weird boys in my grade, including Levi and Elijah. It was odd to be with them instead of 8 year old girls. They just weren’t like any of the girls I knew back then, and they will never be- their behavior is that bad. Those boys would laugh at me whenever I missed a throw, or failed to catch the ball. Especially Elijah. (He got in trouble once when I told on him in 5th grade because he called me a nasty name.)They let me play, because they had to, but I was clearly discriminated against. However, they also discriminated against themselves, too, so I just took it.
One day, I’d approached Bethany, following some advice Kristina had given me, and interrogated her about what had happened.
“Bethany, why do you ignore me so much now? I mean, Mo, Mira, and Tiana aren’t including me. Why don’t you do something about it? ” I’d asked.
“I didn’t. I just made some new friends, and you don’t want to hang out with them.” She answered, confused why I was asking.
“Whenever I try, I’m excluded from the bunch.” I countered.
“That’s not my fault. Talk to them. I always try to include you, but you just say no.” Bethany hissed back.
“You’re impossible!” With that, I’d stormed out of the lobby next to the cafeteria, leaving Bethany’s perfectly shaped mouth hanging.
I was still close enough to hear her whisper to Mo, Mira and Tiana, who had made their way out of the bathroom next to the lobby, hearing their beloved leader in a fight with the enemy. “What did I do?” she asked them. The comment infuriated me even more.
Fortunately, in fourth grade things got patched up, the way you would patch up the Grand Canyon with saran wrap. We were “frenemies”, for we often fought when we were friends.
My new friends, Mo, Mira, and Tiana were some of the most diverse people I’d ever met. Mo was the quiet in school/fiery out of school type. She had cropped dark brown that was always shiny. I think she’s kind of Goth now. Mira has moved multiple times. She was born without half of her left arm, so she has a multi-million dollar mechanical one that could kill- and she makes sure everyone knows it. She prefers not to brush her tangled chestnut brown hair which she constantly complains about and refuses to cut short. Tiana is an African American with a light complexion. Her frizzy dark brown/black hair adds to her already large figure.
In 2008, two years after the ditch, Bethany decided to attend Calvary, while the rest of us went to Macatawa Bay. That fall, Mira, Bethany and I hung out in my basement, lounging on the multiple worn couches for one of the last times. We were talking about Bethany’s choice to go to Calvary, a ridiculously small Christian school scattered around the Holland area.
“Calvary is so small. How on earth do you survive there?” I asked.
“I know! Only twelve people in your grade! That’s worse than Calvary is so small. That’s worse than weekend’s worth of homework!” Mira added.
“Well, it has to be better than-” Bethany stopped, a perfect time for Mira to add a comment.
“Your brother?” She asked, curious if that was the right answer for Bethany’s train of thought. We all started laughing at Mira’s joke.
“Nice one, Mira!” I high-fived her. That was the end of our happy times as a trio.
I’d left the table where Mira, Mo, and Tiana had sat, thinking they were a bad influence on me. I have a new group of friends, and I still like to hang out with Kristina a lot- I mean, a lot, even though she attends Black River Public School, a K-12 charter school that I almost went to (my sister is now a senior there) with only four buildings- within a one acre radius. I haven’t seen Bethany since winter 2009.
My life is now full of good friends like Kristina. I think now my classmates are starting to realize the difference between us all, if they haven’t already. Friends are no longer non-existent in school, and best friends are much scarcer. Whatever happens, I hope that I have chosen some true BFFs, not those phony ones that don’t care about your emotions.