The Price of Wisdom

December 1, 2011
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Most people remember past friendships and smile. I find that difficult. To me, the memories are like an unripe berry dipped in sugar- sweet, but with a bitterness you can’t get rid of. Looking back on them, I try to focus on my happy memories, but I keep coming back to the pain of loss I had to go through to find my own strength.

In the seventh grade, my life was pretty much hell. Problems with my friends took focus away from my school work which caused my grads to slip which caused life at home to be no fun and so I’d take my anger out on my friends, thus descending a dangerous spiral down the toilet. Every day at school, all that most of my friends could talk about was all the drama that was going on, except for one.

That friendship was my Eden, a place without fear or dread or even the knowledge of pain. With that friend, I could laugh and joke and smile like nothing else mattered. If I needed anything then, it was a place where I could laugh.

The only problem was, this friend was a guy, and you know how seventh graders are. To them, a girl and a guy can’t just be friends. No, there has to be something else going on. We were constantly asked if we were going out, if he was my boyfriend, if I was his girlfriend, et cetera, et cetera. Honestly, I found it to be wholly annoying and humiliating. Those nosy little snakes had no clue what they were talking about, in my opinion. Then, one day, I began to wonder why not.

I carried the burden of that question with me for many days, occasionally taking it out and looking it over, trying to figure out what to do. Finally, I went to my friend Jazzy and told her what was going on. She listened, and then presented me with an offer: She would drop a few very subtle hints, gauge his reaction, and then I could make my final decision from there. To me, that sounded like a pretty good deal, so I agreed. I took a shot, and bit the apple.

A couple weeks later, this friend and I were at the rehearsal for a choir performance of ours. We were talking and goofing around, nothing out of the ordinary, when he told me about these weird riddle-ish rumors that Jazzy had been telling him, about how she knew a girl that liked him. She had told him that it was a redheaded girl in her math class.

Just to clarify, I was one of two redheads in our grade, and the only one in that math class. Jazzy obviously didn’t entirely grasp the concept of subtlety.

But in the moment he told me about that, I froze. A million thoughts rushed through my head, and the silence pounded deafeningly against my ears. In that moment, I realized how much he meant to me, not just as a crush, but as a friend, and I realized there was no going back.

I could just barely see these truths dawning in his eyes, and so I did a very, very cowardly thing. I denied everything. I told him that Jazzy had probably just heard some of the normal rumors and gotten confused. We didn’t speak for the rest of the night.

After the rehearsal, I flew out of there, terrified of looking back. Then the next day at school, I didn’t hang out with him. I never spoke to him for two years if I could help it. I still rarely do. When I told my other friends and sister about what happened, I changed the story a bit. I made it seem as though he was the one to run away, and not I. It was such a good lie, I even fooled myself.

But now I am not going to hide behind false memories. I know I was a coward. I know I could have acted differently, and if I had, I might still be friends with him, my life would be very different, and I would be a very different person. However, I rather like who I am now, though I’m not proud of how I got here. I know I am now far braver, and far more willing to face my own mistakes. However, I do sort of wish that I didn’t have to lose that friendship to become this better person.

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