Who is Left Behind

June 7, 2011
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I’m not sure how we got here. Once upon a time we were sitting on her back porch eating popsicles and running through sprinklers in the lawn. My earliest memories are of us together; our shared experiences bringing us closer. Where did we go wrong? What happened to break our bond? Just last month I was sitting in her car talking about boys and driving around, bored with this sleepy town.

We had dreams, big ones, of going away for college. Somewhere we could reinvent ourselves and leave this place behind. We would live together, like we talked about as kids. For a while we were on the same page. California became the goal, and we worked hard to get there. She was the only person I’d met who could match my drive, my ambition. But, then, things started to change. She got angry that I scored better than she did on the ACTs, that I made honor society. What were once proud accomplishments I no longer told my friend for fear of upsetting her.

She got a boyfriend that year. I liked him; he was nice and made her laugh. Then they started fighting. Our other friends told her to dump him; they told her to end it for good. Then, when the fights continued our friends were angry. They demanded a break up. I tried to be supportive. I didn’t tell her what to do; only she knew what would make her happy. It scared me to see my friend so broken and hopeless. A small part of me was angry too, she would always run back to him as soon as I finished gluing her heart back together.

I watched her as she settled, as she forgot our dreams and planted roots that I had no business digging up. Usually I was happy for her, but when she was broken and crying it almost tore me apart. Yet, my dreams hadn’t changed. I was still ready to leave; this little town was losing me. Already I was restless, itching to move on to my next adventure. Whenever our friends talked about going to the state university together I was relieved that I would be able to get away. They said they didn’t want me to go, but I knew I couldn’t stay for them. I had no room to breathe here. Yet, in my gut, I couldn’t help feeling abandoned. Once this had been our dream, not just mine.

Both of us got caught up in our own families, our own lives. We put some distance between us, if only because we knew the separation would be hard. We realized that over the years we had lost each other. She wasn’t the pig-tailed loudmouth any more than I was the somber eight-year-old. As we grew we had taken parts of each other into our own personalities, but that hadn’t made us the same person. Of course, we were still best friends, but we had grown to include other people as well. We had our three mutual best friends, her boyfriends took up time, and I had gotten a new best friend as well. Slowly, he became the one that knew me best. She held my history, but he loved me for who I was right then.

Less and less of our time was spent together but neither of us complained. Both of us were happy and we always came back to each other.

Then one day, two weeks ago, one of our friends tried to drive a wedge between us. My best friend was told untrue things, and they both attacked me. I was so confused, how could she, who knew me more than almost anyone, believe I’d said those things? How could she choose to hurt me in ways only she knew would?

The next day nothing was said, but there was something in my heart that ached. I couldn’t make sense of what had happened. How could this friend I loved so much rip into me without cause? I didn’t trust her or our other friend. The change in her was one I had watched, half-sad, but knowing that I had changed too. I had never known her to be cruel, so I told myself it was all a mistake.

A week later my heart was broken again. She said I was no good, and mean. That I thought I was better than her for getting better grades. That I had patronized her by not telling her my good test scores. She said I was no longer important to her because I’d proved I didn’t care about her. I wanted to tell her that I wished I’d done worse on my ACTs if that could have made it better. But I knew that even if I had that wouldn’t have fixed it all.

We changed and had relied on each other to stay the same. It wasn’t fair of us to ask each other for this, but we had all the same. Even then, we could have grown together; we could have held the other’s hand instead of slapping it away. I’m not sure when we got here, or when this was all set in motion. I only know that I’m hurt and bleeding, and I want my best friend to help me fix it. This time, though, we can’t help each other. We have to do this on our own.





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