Wednesday, October 01, 2008


when i was in seventh grade and a pretty recent transplant to a wealthier part of charlotte, I had a great friend named Melissa. Melissa and I were equal parts goofy, shy, and awkward and we got along like peas and carrots. We spent every weekend together spending the night at my house or hers, though usually mine because she shared a bedroom with her sister and had a baby brother. We roller bladed and fell in the street, worked as candy stripers, and made stupid commercials with a home video camera. We were inseparable.

In eighth grade a couple of new friends entered our mix and things went well, but suddenly our attentions were divided. At the end of the school year, we engaged in a social experiment and tried out for cheerleading. We practiced like crazy although I refused to do our cheers for our moms even though she wanted to. I made the squad and she made alternate. Over the summer, a girl quit, so she was bumped up, but I don't know if she ever got over it and I started to get a little big for my britches.

Although today I'm not totally sure, I think that's where things started to change. We tried for another year and then I don't know what happened. I honestly don't, but I remember that we hated each other in tenth grade. We swam together, I sat behind her in history, we walked by each other every day, she was one bus stop up from mine, and we never said a word. I had told her a silly secret that felt like the most embarrassing thing on earth-one of my boobs was smaller than the other-and she wrote it in our mutual friend's year book and said she wished I would just go to the other high school-where I'd been hanging out with other girls because I felt so out of place and uncomfortable in my own skin.

That went on for 3 years and i think about it all of the time. Yesterday, I found her on facebook. I took a chance and requested a friendship remembering a time in early college when we ran into each other and actually said a word or two. I got no response. Today I wrote an e-mail.

A couple of years ago I worked in the adolescent psych unit where I watched teen and tween girls with a million strikes against them tear each other down instead of building each other up and it broke my heart. As hurt as I was by Melissa's comments and treatment, I started to realize that some of it had to be my fault too. So today I apologized. I wasn't sure what I was apologizing for, but I said I was sorry for the things I said and did and the things I should have said and done. I was sorry for being a bad friend. I was sorry that my own insecurities and secrets kept me from being true to who I was. I was sorry that I was that kind of a person.

Melissa wrote me back and accepted my friendship. She acknowledged the ways she still hurt, the pain she'd experienced, and the growth she'd had since. She seems so healthy and happy and wise. We wrote back and forth and shared things we should have shared 13 years ago. We had been going through so many of the same things, but instead of sharing our deepest fears and secrets, we shared those of our friends.

As I think about the day, I'm overwhelmed with emotion. I'm happy to reconnect and happy to see her doing so well, but sad about what was, remembering the immense hurt I felt during those years, and sad about what we missed.

As I sit here looking at her wedding pictures wondering where the time has gone and looking at my own and suddenly feeling like something was missing, I'm sad. Maybe what they say is true though. Maybe you really can't get there from here...or rather there. Maybe that wasn't our time. So, today I feel really blessed that our time has come and hopeful for those little girls in the psych unit. Today, 13 years too late, I did the right thing and grew up a little bit.

No comments: