Friends

By , Eldersburg, MD
So this is something I just kind of randomly came up with- it’s sort of a rant and doesn’t make much sense, but please review with constructive criticism and really anything at all you want to say!

Friends are a rather complicated thing- you can never truly sort out which ones like you, which ones don’t, which ones are honestly trying to back you up, and which ones are just waiting to watch you fall down. There are friends who are just there for you- and that statement encompasses a lot more than I think most people realize. They’re there offering shoulders and tissues and cheesy movies when you’re crying and sad and the entire world just about heard your heart break. They’re there when you’re Humpty Dumpty fresh off the wall and sobbing till your throat is raw and bloody, and everyone else is saying you’re impossible to heal, and they’re there offering you stitches and surgical tape and industrial strength band-aids, and they’re offering love and just waiting for you to pick the right tool to mend yourself back together again because they know you can- they’re there to help. They’re there when you’re rolling around in the dirt, tearing your hair out and screaming curses at the top of your lungs, with the volume so loud the words come out sounding almost as if they’re in a different language, and they’re there in the dirt with you, offering words of encouragement and appropriate silences and an opportunity to just break down without having to be reminded of it. They’re there when you’ve reverted back to a time you can’t remember and are curled up in fetal position, nightmares playing on the backs of your eyelids, and they’re there with smooth palms rubbing circles on your back and low lullabies playing in your ear, and reassurances as confident as promises being said to the air.

They’re also there when you’re running through meadows with visions of The Sound of Music playing through your head, turning cartwheels in midair, and are busy being overwhelmed with a sense of fullness and happiness, and they’re there celebrating your joy as if it were their own. They’re there when nothing else is going on- and they’re there to give you something to do.

These are the good friends- you’re lucky to have one in a lifetime. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been blessed with four. If you’re reading this (though I don’t know why you would be, I just feel I should include it.) AJ, Paige, Ciara, or Haley- I love you very much and really appreciate having you guys in my life, and I am grateful for our faux sexual relations that freak out our boyfriends and the mythical babies we have with Disney characters. Screw, men these are the people I want to grow old with.

Good friends are amazing- when you’re in high school, like I am at age fourteen, they just about make up your life. But bad friends are way easier to find, and sometimes impossible to recognize. And not all of these bad friends are bad people- maybe they’re just not the right friend for you, but they can be a life changing friend to someone else.

But for all the awesomeness they may possess as someone else’s best friend, we still like to rant about them in relation to ourselves, do we not?

I thought so.

I’ve had bad friends before. The ones who wait at the top of the staircase till you turn your back and then push you down, watch you tumble- head over knees, knees over head- until you come to a stop on the cold, dirty floor with the papers you dropped fluttering down around your head with a mournful sort of sound, and then they come running down behind you, trailing choruses of, “Oh my Gosh! I’m so sorry! My hand just kind of popped out!” They’re the ones who hold the microphone to your chest so that the entire country hears your heart shatter, they’re the ones who turned you into that nursery school rhyme (“Let’s capitalize on her fall now, shall we?”), they’re the ones taking the pictures of you covered in dirt and mud and putting them on Facebook tagged “loser”, and they’re the ones who mock for your foolishness when you let the things your mind plays through when you close your eyes come back and haunt you in your waking moments. When you’re running through that meadow, they’re looking for the nearest cliff to push you down. They grab your ankles and trip you when you cartwheel, fill your head with distractions from your current happiness. They wait for you to entertain them.

When you’re around them, every breath you take will wreck you from the inside out. You just don’t know it, sometimes, till you wake up one morning and you’re coughing up blood.

I’ve been a bad friend- I treat this knowledge carefully, bundle it up tightly so it’s almost unrecognizable and stuff it under my bed where it’s hidden by old books and candy wrappers and out of my sight, but it’s still there. I don’t acknowledge it- publicly or privately- and it’s not something I put on my resume for new friends when I move, but it’s still there, under my skin, and sometimes I worry it’s so visible and obvious that people are just pretending they don’t see it. I worry that one day I’ll wake up and walk into Algebra, and everyone will stop and stare and gasp, that the titles of all the misdeeds and backstabbing I’ve done (“Told the entire grade about Chloe’s crush on Nick,” “Made fun of Madison’s braces,” “Spread the word about Mackenzie doing pot,” “Announced that Jordan slept with Danielle, even though she wasn’t entirely sure that he did,” “Made a Facebook group about Andrew being gay,” “Simply didn’t listen when I needed her.”) will be floating above my head for everyone to gape and shake their heads at. I’ve tried to be better about it- there was a time a while ago when I had this totally cheesy spiritual awakening and realized that my life would be so much better without causing pain to everyone else in it. So I stopped spreading gossip and started opening books before judging their covers- but the knowledge of what I’ve done is still following me around, to this day, and I wish I’d never done any of those things. Guilt doesn’t go away after apologies are made, and neither does resentment.

Bad friends and good friends are all over, and half the time I’m sure most people don’t even know how their actions come across, and how deeply some people take their gestures- positive and negative alike- to heart. So I think it’s time that all of us, everywhere, start considering deeper how we treat other people, and do it more than just in name. You can title it all you want- you can say we’re starting a revolution, that we’ll be a new brand of teenager, if that’s what’s going to inspire you. The most important thing is that you do it. After all, which would you like to be acknowledged as? The people in the first paragraph, or the second? And how do you really want to affect those around you?





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