Thursday, February 6, 2014

No Longer Girlfriends

Relationships have always been important to me. Now that am older, I am thankful I am able to distinguish between the ones to cling to and the ones to let go of.

It’s not easy letting go, it can be heart breaking, but somehow, deep in my soul, I knew that our relationship had ended long before either of us had realized it. 

It happened with my best girlfriend in high school. It was a slow, painful death, and it was years before we saw each another again.

We rode the bus together, we went to class together, we shop lifted together (yikes)! We wrote each other notes in every class on any scrap of paper available and somehow we got them folded, oh so perfectly, into tiny squares. Somehow we got them to each other undetected by our teachers and our parents. They were like mini journals, what was in those notes was sacred, and for our eyes only. Thinking back on it we hand a mini-novel of Best Kept Secrets.

Friday night was the best because we met at the movie theater in town and promptly skipped out to meet up with her boyfriend so we could drink cheap wine and talk about our crazy week at school. The conversation always drifted to the dream of that golden day when hiding was no longer necessary, a thing of the past. We'd laugh about how our parents "didn't have a clue" what we were doing. We thought we were so slick. I must confess, I think they probably knew, but the drama of dealing with it was easier to ignore that facing that elephant in the room, so we kept getting away with it.

We developed a crazy teenage girlfriend bond that I had forgotten about until this moment, until I had to conger up the memories. The memories magically turn into feelings and in an instant, life in my teen years is back in living color. It was fun and exciting and we enjoyed every minute of it. 

We hung out at her grandma's house because she lived in town. I lived in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road thirteen miles from civilization, so when I got the chance to get off that road I took it. I spend a lot of time with her family, mostly her and her gram. Her grandmother treated me like a grand-daughter too and I never felt out of place at her house.

I remember one time her mom took us cruising around on a foggy, drizzly fall night, driving from town to town, to different bowling allies so she could drink and we could bowl. That memory is so surreal, a distant memory, foggy like a person though a steamy window. The memories are not as vivid as they once were. But the feelings remain the same. It was a happy time. We bowled our butts off!

My girlfriend lived not far from me, down the road a few miles. Hence, the reason we rode the same bus. We always had the same seat everyday.The bonus was that her step-mom was the bus driver (to have), so we pretty much go whatever seat we wanted. We were the first kid on and the last ones off and it was Heaven on wheels.

Our phone calls after school lasted for an hour or more and gleaned absolutely nothing worth remembering. They consisted of hashing over the day, or our most recent love quest, or getting the juicy details on the most recent rumor flooding the halls. They usually ended with what we planned on wearing to school the next day, (I never knew) and that was it.

I loved those phone calls.

They were like our notes, private and necessary.

Simple, real, honest, that is what our relationship was. We had our own little world. We were literally blood sisters; we cut our palms and made them bleed and shook on a relationship that would last forever …  and God forbid anyone try to get in the way of that. 

But it happened and it was a true disaster – and that’s when we really learned how strong that handshake was. 

Sadly, thinking back on it now, it hurt less to brake it than it did to make it!

That was when the unthinkable happened, and girls being girls (and quite aggressive when it comes relationship),I got on the bus one day and we were girlfriends no more. My seat was filled, and the terror and fear I felt from those two girls telling me, "stay up there we don't want you to sit back here with us," was like a rock thrown right through my soul, it caused such an aching pain. And that, was that. 

I was now a lone rider in the front seat. It was such a lonely ride. There was no telling who would sit with me, or if anyone would sit with me. I can still see that day as vivid as it just happened. Those first few school days after that were long and boring and lonely and so painful - it was hard to chum up to new friends. Those other friends were just not the same. Not one.

Funny, isn't it, how some memories never fade. 

Remembering in living color. 

The mind is amazing.

This memory does not look like someone through a foggy window.

The blood-bond had been broken, the seal cracked and the “other” friend, the other part of this relationship, stepped in and took over as stealth as a right-hook and took our precious relationship out.

It was a knock-out punch and the sense of betrayal was overwhelming. Trust was shattered and I hurt so bad."They" made fun of me, called me names, made up lies, and hurt my feelings as much as they could with what ever they could. 

I did learn to ignore them, I finally got to where I could walk by them like they were invisible. In a few months, when the damage was done and hurt was scabbed but not quite healed all of the chiding ended, just as quickly as it had started. But nothing would ever be the same, not ever.

Thinking about it brings back so many memories. My desperate plea to her to be MY girlfriend, to figure out what we could do to save our special relationship, but all was lost. There was no going back to what it used to be, and the more I asked the more distant she became, so I made her invisible instead.

Then the worst blow of all – not only was she no longer my best friend, my fondest relationship, my partner in crime,  she was moving out of the school district. Out of town, way out of town, and all those Friday movie get – a – ways were over. No more phone calls, no more notes, no more sleep overs. it was just OVER.

In the end the other girl just seemed to disappeared. She got lost in plain sight, found other things to do, she had other friends to be with I guess, she had a different family dynamic. She was gone, my best friend was gone, I was alone and that was the end of it. 

She moved.

I saw her once or twice after that at her new house, with her new friends and her new found independence and her ever present Ice Cold shoulder. I tried to talk to her about the “break-up” she didn't want to hear it. She said "I moved, things change, but we are still friends.” 

We were not friends, the love was gone. The relationship was dead. And I left her house very sad the next day. I never went back. It was about 15 years before I ever saw her again.

As adults she would make fleeting appearances and give a genuine efforts and stellar performances to take it all back and fix the relationship, but it was shattered. Most times when she came around she was out of money and out of luck and she knew, deep down, I still cared and I’d still help her.  

From the time at her house to those times of need she had become a victim. Drugs were her vice, terrible drugs. Drugs that took her to her pit of despair, a pit she could not dig herself out of for long. 

The few times she did get out, she used again, and the cycle continued. It was called denial and the abuse had now become her best friend, he faithful relationship; she rarely made it past the edge of her pit. Even now I fear she is sitting on the edge of one.

There was no help for her; she refused help. I had nothing to offer her. She wanted cash and I offered a safe place to sleep and food and friendship. She liked being numb and sick. There was no way to be around her, so I just stayed away from her. I could not watch her kill herself.

I often wonder who chose not to lover her enough for her to treat herself so badly? I wonder what could I have done differently, and the answer is simply nothing. She wanted cash for drugs - "help" was not in her vocabulary

She is still alive today. Somehow she hovers over deaths door and has made it to almost 50. That is a wonderful thing. I am glad that she has a life; though the quality is blurred. Its kind of like that person through a foggy window. 

I believe that God has had his hand on her life and he has saved her by Grace. I watched her as she had a brief encounter with the Lord a few years ago, and I am certain it is him keeping her afloat. Only he can love her better than me, and only he can help me love her. His love is unconditional. It is my prayer that she open up to that one day. It is my prayer that one day it makes sense to her.

I am thankful she sought the Lord in a stronger, clearer moment in her life and I believe I will see her again, if not here, when our Lord calls us home. I have that eternal hope. 

The last time I saw her she was so stoned she didn't know who I was, it took her a minute or two to remembering me. That made my heart sink and I cried later when I thought about it. Who can forget someone that used to be so connected?

Seeing her like that made me long for those younger, carefree days. The days of running out of the movie and up the hill to drink that cheap bottle of wine. Her long blond hair that she had spent an hour fixing, waving in the air, to a spot where we enjoyed that two and a half hour paradise. A hiding spot, where no adult could find us, where no other friend could separate us, and nothing could stop the laughter and the tears of pure teenage joy rolling down our faces. 

It was an innocent time. A learning time. A deeply special time that shaped us as young women, it was all for the good I believe. It helped us to be brave and explore and become who we are. I just wish it had not turned on her. That is one thing I am sorry for. 

I pray for her.  I hope I see her someday – healthy – here on earth. I hope she knows that no matter what our relationship ended up being, being her girlfriend was one of the most pivotal and important relationships I had in my life. If I could go back I would go with her, to before we “broke-up” and do it all over again. It was that much fun. 

 And I do still love her so very much.

I would never trade those years with her for anything. I do miss those years, and her, more than words can express; more than I ever realized. I hope someday I see her so I can remind her of what a great girlfriend she really was.