Monday, April 15, 2013

Pony Boy, Things Are Rough All Over

It's just… You never really know what's going on inside somebody--do you? You think if you care about them--you know. But you never really do."
                                                        -Scott Hope, "Beauty and the Beasts," BtVS

So I have this friend. 

(Yes, I know. But really. I do.)

This friend, who I've been friends with since I was 8, has easily been the best friend I've ever had. When I say that from the time we were twelve until she went away to college when we were seventeen, save for a rough patch here and there, we were as close as people can be, I say it with complete honesty and no exaggeration whatsoever. When I say that throughout her years in college and the subsequent years she's spent living half the country away, our friendship has remained as strong--though admittedly different--as it was in our younger years, I'm again speaking as literally as I can.

This friend of mine has been so constant in my life and been such an inspiration to me, I think of her as my north star.

(Let's call her that, k? It's a lot less clunky for me than repeatedly saying, "my friend.")


Maybe you've been reading my blog for a long time. Maybe this one is your first. If you're the former, you might remember reading I'm Okay (I Promise), the blog post I wrote when I found out that somebody--well, more than one somebody--was inspired by me. As a girl who's been given an extra-heaping helping of inferiority issues mixed with just the right amount of jealousy, finding out people were actually jealous of me was shocking. It was a possibility that had never remotely crossed my mind. 


The first thing you should know about North Star is that she's beautiful, one of those girls who doesn't need any makeup or primping to be beautiful, one of those girls who's beautiful in the eyes of everyone, and that she's been beautiful forever. In middle and high school when everyone was living in Awkwardsville, hiding their pimples underneath bangs that were fried to a frizzy crisp by too-hot curling irons and overly-aggressive blow drying, North Star had perfect (I-hate-to-say-it-because-it's-so-cliche, but yes, perfect) alabaster skin and flowing black hair . Also, North Star was thin.

The second thing you should know about North Star is that she's smart. People have this stupid notion that if a girl is beautiful, she probably isn't smart; I can assure you that for North Star, that's not the case at all. 

The third thing you should know about North Star is that when we were younger, I never met a boy who didn't have a thing for her. See, North Star wasn't (isn't) just pretty and smart, she was cool--raunchy and crude but not overly so, the furthest thing from a priss you'll ever meet. I guess she acted a lot like a guy, only she was hot while she was doing it. 


Just like I never imagined that people could be jealous of, or inspired by, me, there are certain people I would never imagine to be unhappy at all. I mean, yes, of course I know nobody is happy every single moment of every day, but I mean overall. But sometimes you learn the darndest things.


If people were to ask me about my relationship with North Star when we were growing up, I would tell them, like I told you in the beginning of this post, we were as close as two people could be. I would tell them that we spent Friday nights at my house and Saturday nights at her house, talked on the phone all day and night after school on weekday nights, and when we weren't having solo time with our boyfriends, were together. I would tell them that there was really nothing I didn't know about North Star, and there was nothing North  Star didn't know about me.

If people were to ask me about North Star's life back then, not from my perspective, but from the perspective of North Star, I'd say she'd say her life was wonderful. Not in those words, exactly, but wonderful is what it would boil down to. She was thin, she was pretty, she was cool, she was smart, she was funny; she was on the upper upper side of middle class; she was confident, she was self-assured, she was unselfconscious; and everybody liked her. I never, ever would have said that North Star wasn't happy. And I knew her as well as I knew me.


I was on the phone with North Star a few days ago, and we started talking about my shyness. When the subject came up, she asked me when I got to be this way. When I first moved to Miramar, she reminded me, I was outgoing and friends with everyone. What had happened to make me change?

At first I thought her question was ridiculous. When I moved to Miramar, I was eight. A person's personality changes a lot in thirty years. Why was my being so shy such a big deal? Why did something have to cause that?

But then I realized...

(what I realized is not important)

...and when I realized what I realized and told North Star what I'd realized, she said something akin to, Yes, and that was at a formative time. That year was really hard on me, too. But luckily I realized it early on and did some work to try to get  past it.

My reply to North Star was not nice. It was sarcastic, and it was hurtful. See, North Star was part of the problem, part of the hurt that I'd experienced and to which I was referring. It's a long story that I don't want to go into right now, but let's just say I underwent a great deal of pain, and the idea that anybody else, especially North Star, was experiencing pain at the same time was completely foreign to me.

She then told me some things. Some things that I knew in terms of events but not so much aftermath, at least not the extent to which they'd hurt her. She told me some other things that I really had no idea of at all. 

She talked about alienation, exclusion, desperation.

She talked about feelings that, in regards to North Star, I never would have dreamed.


You think you know someone. Maybe you don't know them at all. Maybe you know just a part, a small part, that part that the someone saves just for you.


You also think your life is worse than the lives of others. That girl is so pretty. That boy is so smart. That girl has the most beautiful voice. That boy drives such a nice car. Everybody loves X. Everybody wants to be Y.


You think those teenage movies and books with their everybody-experiences-pain-and-sadness-and-has-problems-of-their-own, the-prom-queen's-life-isn't-perfect, and the-popular-jock-is-going-through-something-at-home messages are a bunch of bull. 

Or at least you did.

(And by you, I mean I. You get that, right?)


I don't wish unhappiness on anybody else, but I'd be lying by omission if I didn't say it's nice to know that in my sadness, in my insecurity, in my questioning and doubt, I'm not alone.


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