At the end of freshman year, last year, my best friend and I got into a fight.
She was angry at me for spending more time with someone else.
And at first I didn’t understand why. I never thought her to be the type of person to get upset over their friend having other friends.
I came to understand.
My new friend was nice enough. She had an appreciation for music my other friend didn’t possess and we were both honor students, whereas my other friend was only in one or two honors classes here and there.
We both had an affinity for the darker aspects of the world before us, ranging from the music we listened to and the shows we watched to recognizing Satanism and Wicca as proper religions that should be respected, and thus drawing pentagrams on our hands in solidarity and outrage at the fact that people that followed these religions were mocked and deemed evil.
I came to understand that, beyond our shared traits and affinities, my new friend had problems. I discovered that the person I claimed was my best friend abused drugs regularly and had long since lost her virginity. And it scared me.
I started to worry. Had I changed like my friend had said way back when we were still in the fighting phase? Was the reason I had taken such a liking to this person because I was going to start doing drugs and sleeping with strangers?
I feared for my grades- for the future I’d desperately worked to mold from ashes and dust. My friend was free falling into nothingness and I worried that she would pull me in after her if I didn’t sever all ties.
I came to understand that my friend had been trying to protect me.
After the fighting came the silence. Over the summer between freshman and sophomore year I couldn’t work up the courage to call or even text her. I couldn’t bring myself to apologize for the things I’d said to her. I’ve always been too prideful for such acts of humility.
I’ve come to understand why, even after I managed to apologize, she had no desire to rebuild the bond between us.
I am a force of negative energy and pessimistic realism. Wherever I go I drag depression and darkness and nothingness and, no matter how hard I try or how much I want to be different, I can’t change it. That’s the path my choices paved for me. I don’t know anything else.
What’s worse is that I am a force of negative energy and pessimistic realism that lashes out on all the wrong targets. I’ve always been mean to boys I thought I liked, snarky to my teachers and parents that tried to help me when I was frustrated, and taken out my anger on my friends.
The closer they were the harder they were hit. I’m like a time bomb with a screwed up timer. I blow up randomly and without warning, and, conveniently enough, I blow up at all the wrong moments.
I came to understand that anyone with even an ounce of logic programmed into them would know better than to willingly put themselves in that situation. Especially when they had other things they needed to deal with.
I’m still friends with the girl free falling, and together, we’ve made another friend that is blissfully ignorant to everything that’s happened. We’re a sad little group, the free falling one, the blissfully ignorant one, and me.
I’m not comfortable around the people I call my friends. I feel like I’m putting on the same show I put on at school every day in order the thwart unwanted attention. I can’t say what I think and feel without fear or reproach. And what’s sad is that I know I’m not the only one doing this.
Every day, people put on this act. And for some the curtain closes for an intermission before the next act begins. Those are the lucky ones. For the rest of us, we keep dancing, singing, acting, performing, lying, every second of our lives impatiently waiting for that curtain to fall in front of us so we can take off the costume and the make up and be ourselves and smile, really smile. Smile for the people sitting in the very back of the audience who applaud, not for the words and songs that don’t belong to you, but for the meaning behind them. The you trying to reach out and be heard but is constantly being shot down by the critics and judges who don’t want to see imperfection, who don’t want to see what’s real.
We wait for those people to applaud us so we can smile like it’s the first time we’ve been happy in years and years. Because for some of us, it will be.
As for me, I stand center stage surrounded by blinding lights and watched by those critics and judges that don’t care about me, but about who I can pretend to be. I sing and I dance and I smile for them. I sing and dance and smile so they don’t get up and leave. Because then what do I have?
As the performance goes on and on and on, the faces begin to blur and fade into black. I’ve forgotten just how many people I’m performing in front of, never mind their faces or even their names.
We keep going, dancing a dance without end and singing a song that is infinitely on repeat. Making sure no one sees when we trip over ourselves or our words. Making sure we don’t go flat even though our throats are sore to the point they feel as though they’re burning because the song we sing isn’t an easy one and we’ve grown tired of singing it.
We’ve come to understand that we’re not perfect. But if we let the audience know, the curtain will fall. But if there’s no one waiting for you backstage with a bouquet of roses to go get dinner with you as a celebration, not of your performance, but of the fact that it’s over, than what’s the point?
I used to carry a bright red umbrella to shield me from the ocean of gray rain that pours down on every single one of us at one point of another. But it’s long since lost that vibrancy. Now my umbrella is the shade of blood, lingering between red and black. And now it has holes, allowing for water to come through in cold, sharp, stinging droplets that cut into my skin and it HURTS.
I want to sleep. I want to cry. I want to smile.
But if I fall asleep, I’ll miss my cue.
If I cry, I will be mocked.
And if I smile, I’ll be lying.
For why would anyone smile when being attacked by razor sharp rain drops or performing for a crowd of nameless faces that only applaud when you’ve finally lost the will to keep dancing and singing and lay lifeless on the stage?
I pity the fact that I pity myself. Even so, a part of me persists that it is for more than selfish purposes that I write the words I have secretly craved to for what now feels like an eternity. A part of me wants to believe that I am not alone. That others have done as I have done and taken the love of a true friend for granted and are now operating on an auto-pilot that lies its way through daily life. The selfish part of me wishes and hopes and prays and BEGS any divine beings that be that my friend will find this and read it and know.
That she will come to understand that this is the apology she never got to hear because I wasn’t strong enough to swallow my pride and utter the simple words I WAS WRONG.
That she will come to understand that every time I used sarcastic comments and witty comebacks that were too abusive to be considered playful that I didn’t mean it.
That she will come to understand that I love her as if she was my sister and my heart aches every time at the thought that her life is much happier and less explosive now that I’m not a part of it.
That she will come to understand that, even if it changes nothing, that I know I was wrong.
I was wrong to hurt her when all she did was support me and make me laugh and feel like I could finally depend on something amongst the mess of debris I’d somehow wound up in. I was wrong to jump to conclusions. To think she wanted anything more or less than to protect me like a friend is meant to.
THIS is the apology. My submission and surrender.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry every day of my life. I’m sorry every time I see her laughing and smiling with other people just like she used to do with me. I’m sorry every time we engage in awkward conversations that could not be more unlike the ones we used to have.
I’m sorry I pushed her away when I should have clung on to her for dear life and screamed at the top of my lungs, pleading her not to leave me alone.
I’ve come to understand that I’m fated to continue dancing and singing for these strangers until I either achieve forgiveness or fall flat on my face in exhaustion.
There’s no happy ending from where I can see. No ending at all, to be exact. But I keep going, just like everyone else hoping that the people it’s all for, the people that come to see you and not the character you play, who'll see behind the masks and costumes and makeup and see you for who you are and don’t get up and leave, will walk into that pitiful theater and clap for us. And that curtain will fall, like we’ve waited for for so long, and the final notes will ring out and echo and then fade into nothing.
And it will all become nothing more or less than a memory.