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Earlier this morning, the pouring rain making beats on my window woke me up and consequently it mirrored the sound of my head pounding. Unaware of the time, I reached for my phone, charging on the white nightstand beside my bed. The dazzling light pierced my pupils and I swiftly turned the brightness down. The time read "2:56 AM". My nose was congested and my throat was sore. After blowing my nose repeatedly and rubbing my pupils, not in that same order, I started to reflect on school. I remembered this memoir assignment that I was tasked with for my English class. There was no doubt that I knew what I wanted to write about, but I was in my bed, becoming more and more frustrated, tossing and turning at 3 am in the morning because I was unsure that it was supposed to be conveyed a certain way and I wasn't meeting those standards. On Friday, Ms.L, one of my English teachers, brought to my attention, that I had a compelling story, I had the different components, but I was ranting. I wasn't conveying a story. There are more components to it than just describing how I perceived each particular moment. I have to be able to address it in a way that makes the audience feel as if they were present in those two years of my life with me. This narrative that I'm about to reveal to you guys isn't a novel that revolves around comedy or drama. It's a narrative that is authentic, that shaped my life and evidently, one that many people in today's society can relate to.
It started during my freshman year of high school. I as well as many other students that year, was determined to have a new start, determined to change for the better. It was September 9th, 2015 and I would be starting high school on that exact day. I remember waking up at 6 am, as usual, my headline was on the floor and my straightened hair was disheveled and straightened. My father always used to tell me that "Early is on time and on time is late." School started at 8:20 every day, so I was there at 7:45. My first day of school outfit, which I thought was cute back then leaves a horrid image in my mind today. I wore an orange sleeveless top with light blue capris and white Nike's with my jean jacket in my hand. My hair was straightened as usual and I was happy. The sun was blazing and the vibe that was giving off was the same vibe that I feel every time it's the first day of school. The first day of school just has a certain effect on people in my opinion. Upon my arrival, as a freshman, I had to wait outside to get the ID picture that I had taken literally a week prior and let me be the first to say it wasn't the prettiest picture in the world. While I waited outside, I noticed a girl who had very short, blue, curly hair. She was dressed in black jeans, black sneakers and a button-down black shirt with what seemed to me to be witchcraft symbols imprinted on it. She was Hispanic. When I received my schedule and went to my classes, I realized that this same girl was in all of my classes, literally all of them. Doesn't that spark something in your mind saying "Maybe you two can be friends." Well, it didn't work that way for me. She and I literally didn't speak until a week after when I found myself in my guidance counselors office, Mrs. Meyerson, seeing as though the school made an error in my schedule placing me in living environment rather than earth science. A year prior I had taken the regents for living environment and passed with a 79. I should've been in earth science.
Consequently, the curly blue haired girl was there for the same reason. Inside of our guidance counselors office, we spoke. We spoke about how the school was stupid how we, kids at the age of 14, couldn't possibly make such a "careless mistake". After Mrs. Meyerson fixed both of our schedules we walked out together exchanging names, and that's when she said her name was Lauren.
After that meeting, Lauren and I were like two peas in a pod. We did everything together. By everything, I meant everything. We didn't really have any other friends apart from each other, so if she didn't go to class, I didn't go. Freshman year her and I basically had two lunch periods. She and I had Earth science together filled with 10th graders who were very rowdy and they didn't even bother giving Ms. Dragic a chance so we always thought "why should we?". As a result, we didn't attend. Therefore, during fourth period Lauren and I were surrounded by our classmates who eventually became our friends. We sat in the auditorium and laughed constantly, eating sandwiches that we bought from our local corner store, which in the future became our favorite spot. When lunch for my friends ended, Lauren and I's lunch began. Our 5th-period lunch consisted of running away from the security guards and sitting in the staircase because we were unable to retreat back to the dimly lit auditorium that we previously sat in minutes prior. At this time, I didn't see any fault in our actions. We were happy and that's all that really mattered. For the rest of the school year, we sunk into a routine. Her happiness was mine and mine was hers. We excelled in school together and ended up in the National Honor Society for our first time together. That day, on June 13th, I wore a mid-length black dress and my hair in a bun while she wore a black pantsuit with a black cardigan. We stood over the NHS candle that was melting by the minute. It was a ritual that is done at every ceremony where the members pass along the light on the candle and Lauren and I stood side by side. When it was my turn to pass her the candlelight, the flames from the candle reflected in her eyes and it dawned on me that together we had done it. We had completed our freshman year together successfully. We were smiling from ear to ear because of this new profound urge of success. I still have that picture of us, happy. However, It's sad to know that the happiness and love we shared wouldn't last for the years to follow.
The summer after 9th grade went by quickly. I spent my time in Boston as I normally do, going to parties and eating a lot of food while sitting on the same deck with the same white coffee mug that reads
"Keep calm and drink tea". As for Lauren, she stayed in Brooklyn, doing God knows what and God knows when, but we texted every day. These conversations often ranged from 6 am in the morning to 3 am late in the night. Our conversations would always start off with "Good morning" and then branch out into the weirdest things. These conversations continued on for the whole summer and on the first day of 10th grade, it was evident that the friendship had only grown and nothing had really changed. For the first two months back to school, she and I were inseparable per usual until a shift occurred. One day semi mid-October, Lauren had received a text from a senior who we knew very well. Their conversation went as follows :
" Hey Mel" - 6:54 pm (Anthony)
" Hey Loser"- 7:03 pm (Lauren)
" So are you and your friends buying"- 7:04 pm (Anthony)
"Buying what?"- 7:06 pm ( Lauren)
" Weed."-7:08 pm (Anthony)
*Read 7:10 pm* * Lauren has blocked Anthony*.
The funny part of this whole messenger conversation is that Lauren trusted me with her password and I read that conversation several times over staring at the last text in disbelief. Therefore, I blocked Anthony from her messages. There was no way in hell that I would believe my best friend would try anything even near that substance. The following day, before we went inside the school, Lauren brought up the conversation she had with Anthony and I remained silent the whole time she spoke until she blurted out the words "So are you coming with us to the park." Shocked and annoyed, I literally screamed on that sidewalk with fallen leaves touching my beat up converse "NO, ARE YOU DUMB." All Lauren did after I screamed that out, was take my statement as a joke and stated with the straightest face "Just a tad." That late October day, for the first time, I watched my best friend, a stranger at that point, walk off away from me and into the park. All I could do was walk inside of cobbles doors seeing as I was already late for Spanish. I still had to act as if my best friend didn't just betray my trust and ignore the fact that she went against my wishes. Wishes that were morally correct. During the rest of my Spanish class period, I worried about what was happening with my best friend. Even though I didn't necessarily agree with her choices, I still cared. I was hopeful that she might've changed her mind and she was just delayed getting inside the school. Seconds later she walked in and my mouth dropped. Lauren looked so feeble. Her eyes were bloodshot red and they hung low. As soon as she entered the room, it began to wreak of that horrid aroma and I personally wasn't fond of it. However, one weird thing that caught my eye was that she came in smiling. When I say smiling, it's an understatement. You wouldn't be able to measure the smile on her face with a yardstick for that matter. It was bound to surpass that measurement. Lauren came to me and hugged me and to your guy's surprise, guess what I did, I hugged her. I came to the realization that, that was my friend and despite her choice of weed attraction, I should and would be there for her. From September to late October we were on amazing terms until I heard that she was taking pills as well. Smoking was one thing but experimenting with other substances was on a whole new level for me. Once again, I approached Lauren on this issue and she completely shut me down. She didn't want to hear the fault in her actions and I didn't want to put up with it anymore. Lauren started to turn into the "basic kids" that we had made fun of for the past year and month. Lauren smoked daily, took different narcotics that my mind has never even heard of and to this day still can't process. She didn't care or check to see how her actions or behavior was affecting her or the ones around her. It was clear that Lauren had her fair set of issues, we all do. However, it came to the point where her issues became demons and Lauren ultimately let her demons mask and take over her true nature. Lauren's issues played a greater toll on her than I had thought within the prior year. She pushed me away and found a new best friend, yet it was an illegal one. Lauren had become so consumed by this "weed cloud" that nothing seemed to matter, even me. As a result, I left. I left when she needed me the most but why stick around when the advice you give to others isn't being taken in for a better use. I dropped Lauren as a friend a few weeks after. I didn't wish her a happy birthday. I regret it. Lauren found new friends, like Alexis and I stayed with our other friends that we had made connections with since 9th grade. Our other friends understood where I was coming from, they understood that I had a right to be aggravated with Lauren. "People change" they stated. "That's the biggest lie I've heard" I screamed on the inside but whispered on the out.
As months went on and on, I stopped worrying about Lauren and more about myself. We had all of the same classes together so there was no way of not seeing her. Sometimes I would glance at her just because and other times I would catch myself staring, not on purpose, of course. There was one time that we were in Avid class, with the desks in four rows, two rows on opposite sides of the room facing one another. I sat in the front row on the right side of the room and she sat in the back row on the left side. I caught myself staring at her that day, but I couldn't help but stare. Lauren's eyes were red, her hair was a mess, her clothes were wrinkled and she looked pale as if someone had been choking the life out of her and then stopped as she was about to take her last breath but they didn't want to end her life. Lauren caught me staring that day and she just went off. She began to scream several profanities in the room, directed towards me. She hated me and I felt hurt. Next to her, as all of this was going on, was her brand new buddie, Alexis, smiling in all of her glory as if she's won a medal. Lauren made the wrong choice in picking a new friend. Alexis was and still is nothing short of someone who feeds off of others problems. I just left the room and figured she'd cool down. She did. For the rest of the school year, we made minimal contact. I tried my best to steer clear of her as she did for me. It no longer felt strange to walk by her in the hallway. I no longer had a sensation running through my body that screamed that I was uneased. Lauren was fine on her own from what I can tell. Sometimes they often say "It's okay to live a life that they don't understand" and I guess I never understood.
Until this day, Lauren and I are still not friends. Months after her cursing me out, we tried talking to one another but there was no resolution. It's been a year, almost two since she first put that dreaded roll of paper to her lips that ended our friendship. It's been a year, almost two that for once I didn't feel as if I was a babysitter rather than a friend. I'm thankful for the experiences Lauren and I shared and I'm thankful that I was able to experience the best sides of her, with her. I was able to see what others couldn't. I no longer feel like a burden is placed on me to monitor her actions. I'm no longer blinded by the past or disturbed by what she has become. I take this change of our friendship for what it is and I am now more alive.As night takes the day, as I conclude on a narrative about a friendship that was once there and is now nothing more than a distant memory, I couldn't be more appreciative of the fact that I am free. Free to believe, free to smile, free to laugh, free to learn and free to just be my most authentic self. If anything this friendship has taught me is that, in order to save myself, I have to destroy the negativity surrounding me even if it's something that I care deeply about. My mental health and happiness were more important than a green leaf and a blue haired girl. I'm excelling in school, far beyond what I expected. I have amazing friends who speak to me rather than at me. I understand them and they understand me. Therefore, Lauren, thank you. I am no longer holding a secret about my life that was eating me up on the inside like maggots who feed off of dead bodies. I didn't want to bash her or "drag her name through the mud." Overall, this memoir gave me a chance to express myself without having to face you or anyone else for that matter. Whenever my parents ask about you or a stranger says "Hey, I don't see you hanging around Lauren anymore." I just smile. Not because of what I've grown to see and find out about myself but because she's allowed me to be free and indiscreet. Indiscreet with the person who mattered most and that person is me. Weed definitely ended up helping me find out more about myself than I had ever known and the irony in this whole situation is that I didn't have to take it like her to locate and become captivated by my own little high.
P.S. Reader Discretion is advised, you may just learn something about yourself that you never knew.