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Friendship Middle School Teens & Young Adult

We used to boast about being able to stay friends longer than any of the others. When old acquaintances would ask, "Are you still friends with Lily?" knowing of our inseparable friendship throughout the years, I’d proudly reply, “Yeah, I just saw her this weekend.” Through grammar school, middle school, high school, and college: our ties never cut. We beat them all. We defied the odds. Even when my mother told me our friendship would crumble because people don’t stay the same and you were going to be another clone of her once-best friend Martha Johnson, who also happened to be a relative of yours, I stood by us. I vehemently told her, swore on my young heart, you weren’t like that. Even if you were living in Arizona 500 miles away making new friends and I was in my first year of college, a loner with no social capabilities, with you, the talkative one of us two now being gone, we still wouldn’t change. We’d text throughout the day and write letters now and then, old souls that we were. You’d always be the first to call, you know I hated talking on the phone, yet we'd often spend three hours talking about absolutely nothing and everything at the same time. And when you returned home permanently after that first year of college, it was like nothing changed. My mom didn’t understand, I told her we were “different.” This was not Martha Johnson who had developed a bitter heart over the years due to the pain of adolescence and who now must assert her dominance over strangers to feel strong. No, this was Lily Johnson, my best friend who gradually began to tell people the harsh truth because she was no longer the quiet submissive who could not say no. It was totally different. 

In 4th grade, we instantly clicked. I don’t remember how and neither do you, but I knew, and you knew all those friendships before ours were transient and fleeting, made of easily breakable plastic. But we were special. Those future friendships were also hollow. That yellow friendship book we crafted, titled BFFL, which we made in 6th grade with our third friend Angelica, was meant only for you and me. We knew Angelica wouldn’t stay for long, we could see the plastic underneath. She didn’t understand, she was never like us. Like the quiet type, the kind that's comfortable in the shadows. And when she left us to befriend Hannah, the snarky girl in class, and begin wearing tight Hollister jeans and Aeropostale striped t-shirts, forgoing bootcut jeans, and off-brand converse, we didn’t miss her. When I made friends with Katherine in 7th grade because I felt terrible that her only friend had moved to another school and she now was alone, I didn’t imagine you’d like her too. I never told you, even to this day, but I never liked her. Turns out she looked like us, quiet on the outside, but her inner character was surprisingly quite dark. I don’t think we ever said curse words until she came around. But she stayed for what seemed like a long time. And I didn’t think she would stay, but you clung to her closely. And when I awoke your inner scorn of me that time I danced with your crush David at the Valentine’s Day dance and never said sorry, you clung to her even closer. I always believed you secretly hated me for that ever since. So, when Katherine moved away in high school mid-freshman year, I didn’t mind at all. And sometimes I think maybe you didn’t either, though you still bring her up to this day and say, “Remember Katherine?” and I say, “Oh yeah,” because I really have nothing else better to say and I’d rather not relive our times with her again. And so, we were two again. Even when you became a cheerleader and became friendly with the stereotypical, bubbly, popular group, I still saw you after school. We would walk home and talk about your secret crush Isaiah and my secret crush Chris just like we always did because nobody knew your secrets like I did and nobody held mine like you.

I used to call you my “Soul-friend.” Which, if Urban Dictionary had a definition of it (maybe they do I never checked), would be defined as “A soulmate friendship.” Friends destined to be together forever, written in the stars. If I thought up an idea, you’d have already thought of the same one before I even blurted it out. Whenever we said the same thing, we’d laugh at the freaky coincidence. I believed our brains worked on the same wavelength. This was proven true when, in college, I became obsessed with the Myer Briggs personality test and discovered we were both INFJs. Because now everything made sense. You were my twin split up at birth, I thought. On the 16 Personalities website, I obsessively pulled apart the "INFJ Friendships" section. As INFJ specimens, bottled emotions that we were, honesty and authenticity would be the crux of our relationship, and I wholeheartedly believed it. However, I also read about our future pitfalls. We would ultimately compete as two INFJs, silently trying to become better than the other. In other words, our friendship was a silent brewing volcano, ready to explode with unsaid words over the years and constant unconscious, yet conscious, actions to exceed the other. No, no, your lack of compliments on my achievements or looks was almost unnoticed, Lily. My though-the-teeth praise of your intelligence I had lacked only occurred a few times, right? This was not an obstacle; Meyer Briggs didn’t know our friendship. 

So seven years later, when I walk into that K-pop-themed crepe and ramen shop we used to go to after you would finish biology class and I would skip jazz music-appreciation class to meet you there (because who cares about jazz), a pang of sadness hits me, not joy. Because, Lily, we didn’t defy the odds. You stopped calling and I stopped calling, and you became Katherine, I became Angelica, you met your true soulmate, and my mom was right. And that's why we don’t talk anymore. But I don’t say this, because when you look at me, I also see the sadness in your eyes, and you don’t say this because I guess Myer Briggs was right. And when I see you all I see is every moment, every laugh, every tear, every change but no way to recall all the brilliance it once held to make it survive at this moment. I want to say, “Do you feel the same way?” but I feel like you longer know what I’m talking about. You can no longer finish my sentence. When you talk about your new life in the city, the professor's life and your European travels, and your beautiful baby I’ve seen on Instagram that I’m sure is your clone, I want to look at you and say “what happened to me?” But I can’t say that because you lead your own life and I’m now only a memory sitting here that you’ve decided to revisit for a few moments before you finish your banana crepe, pay your bill, and leave me as I am. A friend that once was, a Martha Johnson.

December 02, 2022 09:19

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1 comment

P. Beard
16:56 Dec 08, 2022

I like this story, and I find it both funny and sad (sad in a good way if that makes sense). I can really feel the simmering resentment, and I think even some suppressed guilt. The references to brands and styles are spot-on! Nicely done!


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