Best friends-Is that even a thing anymore?
I’ve never had much luck with “best friends” or honestly? Friends, in general. From a very young age I was always a giver. I’d give and give and people would take and take. As a kid in Catholic school I had my closest friends for being 8 years old, but when we moved away and I started a new public school I was clueless on how to go about the “making friends” business. I had grown up with the children I knew at my Catholic school, so this whole new kid territory was so scary.
As mentioned previously, I’m not a kid from money. I can’t remember much from my first experience in 4th grade except that apparently my previous school was waaayyyy behind on the education front. I had no idea what times tables were or that multiplication was the same thing. It was funny. I wish I could remember now what that first day was like. Who I talked to, how I felt. Throughout that year and the following, into 5th grade I had made some close friends, thinking back now I’m pretty sure I thought we’d all graduate together. Then I got held back and watched all those friends move on to middle school. So, onto the 2nd fifth grade, I got teased on the bus by lower level classman, called a “failer” ( I mean, c’mon, its failURE) and was forced into one of the trailer classrooms to continue that year. No switching classes, so everyone in that room had better make it work with eachother. Of course, I thrived in that setting. There I met my first ever, real life best friend Erica. Her Mother and Step-father were pretty wealthy people, but at the time her grandparents lived on the road behind our house so we spent a lot of time traipsing around our “retirement community” neighborhood, saving ducks or burying dead birds we found in the road under the gazebo in my backyard. We even gave them funerals. So morbid. She was my absolute best friend. She was my first white friend I had spent time with as my Catholic school was made up of mostly Hispanic kids. We did the weirdest of things together. My Dad called her his other daughter, and her family never made me feel inferior or any less of a person. I knew after that, she was my person.
Sleepovers at Erica’s were the best. Her Mom would basically leave us alone and we’d watch “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” on repeat singing all the musical numbers. We’d argue over who got to be Marilyn and who was Jane Russell. Of course, I was Jane because of the dark hair and I hadn’t exactly “blossomed” yet so she got to be Marilyn. She knew I could never get Teen Beat or Teen Bop magazines, so she’d always save me posters (of people she didn’t like) or she’d hand me down the ones that she was replacing on her wall of JTT or Devon Sawa. I have THE best memories with her.
Then it was onto middle school. They had built a new middle school that summer that would combine some of the out-lying elementary schools and it was mix of kids from everywhere. This was where I realized how much of an importance upper, middle and lower class were. I didn’t have homeroom or any classes with Erica. That first day in homeroom, the teacher, sitting us in alphabetical order, I met Jessica. Our homeroom was awesome because every boy I had a crush on was in it. I think our teacher may have made us introduce ourselves to each other and that’s when Jessica asked if I remembered what I said to her in elementary school once. I had no clue. Being as angry a kid as I was, she told me about a story on a field day where she bumped into me on the field and my response was “watch where you’re going mother-f—-er”. She said that’s how she always remembered me and that she was so scared of me for the rest of that time. Of course that is SO me. The only way I know how to be, tough on the outside, but so desperate for love. We were instant best friends throughout middle school. I treated the popular kids so bad, its funny now but they were TERRIFIED of me. I may have been the under dog but I damn sure didn’t let them know and if you had the nerve to mess with my friends, I’d let you know.
My parents ended up taking jobs in Texas right before I was about to graduate middle school and join all my friends in high-school. I was devastated. For those 3 years my friendships with Jessica and Erica flourished and I was so sad to leave them. I had to start the process all over again at a new JUNIOR high, because high-school didn’t start until 10th grade in TX (bullshit). I had no friends. I was the new kid again and these kids were all super-wealthy. Cheerleaders looked like they’d stepped out of magazines, the jocks looked like male models, the black girls looked like supermodels comparable to Tyra and Naomi, and the Hispanic girls had drawn on eyebrows and black lined lips and even I was scared of ’em. It was a culture shock. I did not fit in well at all. Here I was, total dork in my jeans and tucked in shirt with platform combat boots. I don’t know what that outfit was about. I used to eat lunch with my cousin because he was the only person I knew and even he was embarrassed by it so much to the point that I just stopped.
One of those first few weeks a couple of girls had asked me to sit with them for lunch and I was SO excited. I was and still am a very timid, quiet person (unless you do me wrong). Prior to that I had been sitting outside eating chips by myself. I ate lunch with them that day and I remember not feeling like such an outsider. The next day at lunch, I had my tray ready and was looking for my new (hopefully) friends to sit with. I walked in the lunch room, didn’t see them, so I made my way outside and I realized they were coming in. I smirked and they walked by abruptly, almost cringing and one of them said “oh my god, she’s following us”. I was so embarrassed. Tears even well up in my eyes now thinking about that 14 year old me, but I just played it off like I wasn’t fazed and rolled my eyes at them and sat outside alone. Kids can be cruel. And its so damn hard to make friends at that age. I can’t remember how it happened, but I made friends with, I think the only other Puerto Rican in the school, Joanna, a girl in my Spanish class. I had also made friends with an Indian girl, Teresa. They were both very different, one had money and the other was like me, “poor”. That year in 9th grade flew by, I had some good experiences and was excited to be going to high-school with Joanna and Teresa.
Joanna and I grew very close, but once Teresa got to high-school she was co-mingled again with some of the other rich “Bedford” kids. She started to ignore me, lie to me and just kind of leave me out of things intentionally, I’d only find out because if we were together her friends would talk about what they did that weekend and I’d see Teresa giving them the eyes and shaking her head as if not wanting me to know. I guess my friendship was a convenience of sorts and it pushed me closer to Joanna. She and I, one day at lunch, shared our story of the childhood sexual abuse we endured, our messed up families and we bonded even more. She was my only friend at that school. I was the one always being disrespectful, getting in trouble or thrown our of class and she was like the popular poor girl cause she sang so beautifully and danced even more beautifully that she was treated nicely by the popular kids. she just radiated a likeability I didn’t have. We balanced each other though. During that first year my grandmother had passed away and being 14-15, I didn’t know how to deal with that grief and I begged my parents to let me go back to FL. They did. I hated leaving Joanna, but as the best friend she was, she got my yearbook signed by the few people I considered friends and even pretended to be my crushes singing my yearbook and I made my way back down south.
Re-integrating with the friends I’d left in the 8th grade wasn’t that difficult, but I had come to find that everyone had found their niches. Erica ended up in AP classes and spent time with the drama kids. The other Jessica and I instantly linked back up and that was it. Attached at the hip the next 3 years. Although we haven’t seen each other since about 2011, our reunion, there hasn’t been anyone in my life who has been as solid as they have.
In my adult years, being in the military, I thought being deployed to a combat zone with certain people would give me life-long friends. All of those girls kind of dropped me like a bad habit after I got out. I tried to reach out over the years, but somehow I never quite made it into their circle. They all keep in touch. I never realized how catty and petty girls can be. Candice, I thought for sure would be my life-long friend. We were on the bus into Kuwait together, on the C-130 flight in Taqaddum together, set up our bed right next to each other in our tent, watched “The Notebook” every night on her portable DVD player, we even cried secretly the first night we got mortared because we were so scared. I hadn’t experienced a friendship like hers since high-school. I thought we’d be forever friends, bound by war. We went our separate ways after she got out of the Marine Corps, and kept in touch. It wasn’t until 2008 when I was stationed in VA that we connected in person, then her parents asked me to move in with them. I did and it was the best experience living with my BEST war-friend. Then things changed. It was like she began to resent me because of a 3rd party that her brother brought into the picture. I learned that everyone blamed me for some kind of rivalry between all of them, and because I was the outsider, I got pushed out of the circle. It was devastating. Even more so to find out from that 3rd party a year later after becoming friends, that Candice had talked so badly about me. I was so betrayed, I kept telling myself “but, we went to war together”…it didn’t matter. I never understood why I was always the scape goat. For everyone.
I’ve had a lot of “best friends” over the years that have proclaimed themselves to be. I had never given that title directly to anyone as an adult because to me, it was non-existent. I had given 100% of myself to each of those people. We’re talking time, money and the shirt off my back if they needed it. I have never had those things reciprocated and still yet, I find myself longing for a person to fill the “best friend” position, here in my late 30’s, that’s been vacant for so long. Each time I found myself at the end of those relationships feeling guilty even though I had no need to. If you have me as a friend I will always be brutally honest. I will always tell you if something is a bad decision and if you do it anyway? I’ll be the one waiting outside to pick you up, or buying you dinner on Father’s day because your father isn’t in the picture. I will fill your tank with gas so you can pick up your kids. I’ll give you money for food because you’re so stretched thin doing everything as a single mom that you barely have money to feed your family. I will wipe the damn tears from your face when you went back to that a-hole for the third time. I will never judge you. I will be spontaneous with you and I will pull your damn white hairs out as I’m straightening your hair so you don’t look or feel old lol. I know I am a good friend. To this day I don’t even know why some of those friendships failed or what I did, or maybe how I changed that they decided I wasn’t important enough to keep around. For years I cried over Candice, my war friend, because I never got closure or even an explanation as to why she shut me out and I will always feel that war-connection we had. I will never not feel the loss of that friendship. Losing her was losing an entire family I had grown so close to. It was almost like a divorce. Seeing photos from her wedding, her pregnancy and now of her little girl…it pains my heart I wasn’t special enough to her, to be a part of it and not ever knowing why.
I think its easy when you’re young to “make up” and “break-up” and be friends again, but as an adult, I guess we change so much that maybe we unintentionally weed ourselves out. I think that’s the case with me. If I feel taken advantage of, I wont say anything, I’ll just make myself scarce and then I guess I was always waiting for them to come back around. To realize that I am probably the most reliable, dependable person in their life. They never did. No one wants a friend like me when they have friends who feed into falsities and who aren’t honest when it counts. Who won’t be there for you, but will always make empty promises to be. I guess they didn’t need me as much as I needed them. I have fought, physically, for my friends, in defending their honor, I have shut down disrespect from douche bag guys who got rejected and dare call them some derogatory name, I have literally battled, whole-heartedly for the people I loved and cared for…and I’ve never gotten that back. I have never known anyone to be a friend like me. Except for what I call my tried and trues, Erica and Jessica. And I never spent any time with them after leaving for the military. We never see each other, never text, but I know that I could go to them for anything or we can pick up and reminisce and laugh about our silly ways as kids and feel as connected as ever through an Instagram post. I have never felt that from any other friend, or “self-proclaimed” best friend.
When I was young, I used that acronym above at the end of every letter I exchanged and still yet, there’s only 2. The older I get the more I feel a little sad when I see my friends on “girl’s trips” or engagements, birthday’s, weddings, all with each other. It makes me yearn for that knowing I’ll never have it. I get envious because with all the moves and changes in my life, I was never able to build a circle of “grow-up” friends. So many times I thought I had that and so many times, it slipped away. This post isn’t meant to be a “whoa is me” rant, it’s cathartic for me to share. IF I ever have the opportunity I will do my best to be a best friend again, and I’m trying. The older I get too, the more I realize that my sisters and my significant other have become my very best friends. The ones I can be silly with, honest and open to and the ones who are ALWAYS there. Eventually I think the right person or people will make their way to me, but for now I’ll stick to the b.f.f.n.m.w.h.i.l as being my tiny little circle of sisters, parents, beau, dogs and in laws.
Names have been changed for anonymity sake, except for one. I’ll let you figure that out.