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My best friend and I were once inseparable. In everything we experienced, good and bad, the other was there to laugh about it with you later down the road. Our fifth grade year changed that. Our thoughts on each other changed for the worse. She found new “better” friends. I had been the same since day one. A happy-go-lucky type of girl; slightly oblivious to the world around me. She, on the other hand, understood the ways of the world; or in this case, elementary school.
It started around September of fifth grade. One cool Saturday in October, I rode in my mom's car over to her house for a “play date” with one of her new friends. She and I could also be considered as friends, but not nearly as close as she was with Alice. As the play date sped by, I started receiving hints. They came subtle, but once given, became quite obvious. The biggest clue occurred when we began to read magazines. Lucy, Alice's friend, started to read her horoscope. She began by saying “Your best friend will,”
Suddenly, Alice interrupted her and questioned “Wait, what am I supposed to do?”
They both thought it was hilarious. I couldn't agree. The rest of that day felt painful. It was almost obvious they didn't want me there, nor did I want to be there. Once the play date ended and I arrived home at last, I cried and cried; more of a sob actually. I felt like I couldn't catch up with what was happening, never mind my own breath. The next few days, nothing changed. During recess I tried talking with her but she conversed with her new friends instead. The only words directed towards me during those conversations were “go” and “away.”
One day during our school's before-care, her little sister Sophie started talking to me. Alice took the day off for a dentist appointment. Sophie began to tell me that Alice didn't hate me, but that she grew tired of me. She grew tired of looking after me like I was a hopeless little child. She wanted to have friends who she could have fun with. I later found out that the actual reason didn't include any of that information, but it made an impact then. After that morning I promised myself I'd listen to every critique Alice told me and try to fix it.
The next morning I wore a dark blue top with dark blue pants.
“Why do you wear matching clothes? No one does that!” she told me.
The next day I threw out all of my matching outfits and began switching my tops and pants so they matched the way she said they should. Eventually my mom began asking why I kept changing my clothes and why I wanted to shop at different stores. I didn't exactly know how to answer that, so I just told her what Alice told me.
“Mom, no one wears clothes from there!” and “Mom, do you see anyone with matching outfits?”
"Fair enough" she usually responded with a roll from her eyes.
A couple weeks later Alice told me my handwriting was atrocious. “I can't even read it!” she'd say. I tried to stop this habit too. Every time I began to write, I thought about what she said and took my time. It resulted in a lot of delayed work, but I didn't care. Whatever I could accomplish to gain a best friend, must be done. By the end of the school year, I couldn't believe all the things I'd been doing wrong my entire life! I was a new and improved me.
But none of that mattered; I still couldn't enjoy the company of my best friend.
One day during recess, Alice approached me. She asked if my family and I wanted to join her family in celebrating at Kobis, our favorite habatchi restaurant, after our graduation. I was ecstatic.
Could this be it? Could all my work finally be paying off? I said yes with a smile and told her I'd ask my parents that night. They said yes and called Alice's parents to confirm that she actually meant it when she asked me.
Yes, payoff finally! Of course, all that work had to change something! It was just too good to be true in my little fifth grader mind.
Well fate somehow interpreted that saying too literally. Two weeks later she came up to me again and whispered in my ear,
"I don't want to go to Kobis with you anymore,"
I looked at her with a blank expression. I could only think, wait what? Did you really just say that? I was in complete shock. It was all just a part of her plan. She never wanted to celebrate our graduation at Kobis with me. She only said it so she could bring me down right here and now.
"But your parents already made the reservations!" I responded.
“I know,” she answered, and spun around to face the opposite direction. She then walked away as if what she said changed nothing.
That night, I told my dad what she told me that day at school. I also told him about all the other harsh comments she included throughout the year and what went on inside 5R. I convinced him not to tell Mom or anyone else. But dads can never keep a secret. He told my mom and she insisted on calling Alice's parents.
"But that wouldn't solve anything!" I explained. “Her parents will just get mad and tomorrow she'll take it out on me!”
But my mother was not one to change her mind so easily. I wasted my time even trying.
The night of our graduation we went to Kobis together. The last couple days of school were yearbook signing days.
So happy to say bye to you Anna
I spent the rest of that summer figuring out who to call my best friend in middle school. I kept in touch with my friend who moved to a different school in third grade; but most likely Alice would steal her before I could even say hi. A new girl came to our school this year from Russia. What was her name? Kristina? No. Kseniya? Yes! That was it! I decided to call her and invite her over as soon as I asked my parents. That night during dinner, the phone rang.
I hesitantly pressed the talk button and put it to my ear.
"Hello?" my words sounded like a single drop of water against an army of dry land. So alone with no one to help.
“Hi,” she responded. Her voice sounded softer. The harsh tone that usually added to her voice no longer existed.
"How's your summer?" I asked.
“Good, we just came back from Turks and Caicos. The weather there was amazing. The sand on the beaches looks white and the water, blue. It was much better than the beaches in Connecticut. But that's not why I called. I called to apologize”
Wait a second, I thought. Apologize? This whole year you hated me, and all of a sudden you want to apologize? I let her finish though. There was no way I would stop her, no matter how shocked I was.
“At Turks and Caicos, I was thinking about how mean I was to you. I put myself in your shoes, ya know. I couldn't believe all the things I did.” Hmph, neither could I. “My family was going through a lot of problems then. I didn't know what else to do so I looked to you for support. Of course you didn't know, so I made you feel bad instead. When I was in Turks and Caicos I felt so bad. I really wanted to call you but my mom said it would cost too much.”
“Oh,” was all I could say. All this time my relatives supported me and told me to forget about her. They told me even if she becomes nice all of a sudden, don't forget what she did to you. They never really said anything about if she apologized. I was torn. What do I do? How do I respond to her?
We ended up discussing everything that happened that year. I told her how I felt that year and she told me more about what happened in her family. By the end of the conversation, I felt so overjoyed that she apologized. I couldn't believe it. We became the best of friends once again. In everything we experience, good and bad, we have each others backs. We remain inseparable.