You, Tinisha, were my best friend in fifth grade. You understood my sense of humor. You laughed at all of my jokes. You wore glasses and I didn’t but we both played like children in the meadows, rolling around in the grass, stains on our jeans. We both loved Harry Potter and practically believed we were witches, escaping together from the daily grind of it all.
Neither of us cared very much for boys. Instead, we preferred to spend our time alone in thought, pondering the ways of the universe.
We were nerds, but we were nerds together. We were inseparable, making fun of every flaw with the best intentions. You were short and I was tall. You were blonde and I was brunette. None of it mattered except that, for that year, our souls were intertwined.
Sometimes I regret my casual cruelty, making fun of your glasses because I liked to tease, hitting you a bit too hard when you made a joke by accident, or casually calling you a nerd when we both knew we were both nerds at the time. I didn’t understand quite what it meant, quite how these comments must have hurt you at the time. I didn’t understand until the sixth grade, when you started wearing contacts, fancy shirts, and makeup, and I was wearing bell bottoms that were bright red, desperately clinging to my individuality and sacrificing any semblance of a social life I could possibly have had. That’s when Dana came to school. She wore large glasses, a lot less classy than yours had been, and had a limp.
She was chubbier and yet somehow still quite arrogant. Everyone made fun of her for her leg but I had to be the hero and stand by her even though she wasn’t particularly a good friend to me. She was rather arrogant to be totally honest and completely indifferent about the situation she was in. I, on the other hand, cried every other day, at least, about not fitting in. It meant a lot to me at the time, yet, somehow, I preferred to invest my precious time getting lost in music playing the saxophone than in putting on twelve pounds of makeup. I just wasn’t there at the time.
I didn’t care for any of the boys and they didn’t care for me, so it didn’t really matter. I wanted to pursue my dreams and my passions. Honestly, no one would have cared if I wore a pretty dress. The competition was too strong. I was fine with letting the other girls win over the boys who were far and few between. They were alright but they were picking on me, so whether I had feelings for them or not really didn’t matter at all. If I did, I’d journal about it and then move on with my life. After all, I had better things to do.
We were still friends but it was a bit different. You basically told your mother I was committing social suicide by hanging out with Dana. You were right. Dana wasn’t even as good of a friend as you were, but somehow I felt obligated. I wasn’t even sure why anymore. I think it was because I was a creature of habit who always welcomed the new kids to class, no matter who they were, and I couldn’t seem to stop doing it, no matter what. I had a lot of anxiety about being in groups.
You, me, Sarah, and Ana were friends. Good friends. We were the nerds because we were interested in a few other activities that didn’t necessarily involve the male species. One of us enjoyed cake decorating, I remember. That was Sarah. The other enjoyed boys a bit more than the rest of us and ended up dating sooner, I believe, but was still a good student. That was Ana.
You were deeply involved in your art which was quite astonishing to me, especially because I felt like I didn’t have an artistic bone in my body at the time. I was deeply involved in playing the saxophone. I remember losing you. It was very painful for me. It was like losing a soulmate of sorts. Like losing a long-lost friend from another world. Like losing someone you had fallen in love with.
My love for you was platonic and not romantic, but I became deeply attached to the person who were and to all of the qualities I’d teased you about. To your bare face with no makeup and your big classes, your casual jeans and t-shirts, and your witty sense of humor. All of those qualities were still there, but you were different now. You were more mature, less emotional, and more indifferent. You had learned the art of the comeback. I didn’t blame you. I felt kind of bad about the whole situation and how I’d treated you, but you had certainly matured faster than me.
I felt like the female version of Peter Pan who never, ever wanted to leave Neverland. I clung to my youth as it faded away. I clung to it for many years. You chased your adulthood before it arrived. Everyone wanted to be a mature woman except me and Dana. She worked for a newspaper at the time and I looked down upon her because she wasn’t very popular, even though I wasn’t either at the time. She was good at making up stories. This was great for writing and terrible for her social life.
I suppose I had the same tendency at times. I saw myself in her and it troubled me. Tinisha, I will always miss you and treasure the times we spent together. The countless hours we spent playing in your house that flew by. The times we jumped off of the swings together. The times we ran like children who were free from all of the craziness of this cruel world. I will always remember when you and I were inseparable.