My best friend from high school lives 20 minutes away from me, right across the Bay. I don’t really know what she’s up to over there, and I don’t care to speculate. We don’t hang out anymore. But she was on my mind a lot this week.
We met at a Lashes show when I was in eighth grade and she was in ninth, and we bonded over loving plastic fake-Chanel jewelry and record stores. Then we ended up going to the same all-girls high school and got really close really fast. We liked to stake out the art room and bring in our friend’s band’s CD to play over lunch to make all of our other friends jealous of our juvenile adventures in rock & roll land. We often wore matching outfits without meaning to. I loved having a buddy to share my crazy teenage exploits; I felt like I grew up with her by my side. In hindsight, though, it was more that I was always by hers. As the younger, less experienced one I often felt like more of a sidekick than an equal partner.
This is how it ended, the short story. It’s from my side, but she’s never offered me hers: I moved to Oakland this time last year, and for months leading up to the move we talked excitedly about our imminent reunion. My first weekend in town, we hung out, getting drunk at a show and going shopping in the afternoon, just like we used to do in high school. That weekend, she made a passing remark about not wanting me to encroach on her social circle—she said she wanted me to be able to make my own friends. Valid concern, I guess, but that’s usually not how it works when your best friend moves to your city.
Then she kind of disappeared, neglecting promises about visiting me at my new place, in my new life. I was so excited to show her. Yet she stopped returning my calls and never responded to any of my invitations. After two months of disregard I ran into her at a mutual friend’s concert. She was so high that we couldn’t even hold a conversation. I called her a week later and she didn’t pick up, so I left a pitifully tearful message asking her what I’d done wrong—what horrible thing had warranted a completely unexplained cold-turkey dumping a month after I moved 20 minutes away from her?? She texted me back, stating that she didn’t know why I was so angry, and that maybe if I could calm down we could work it out. She didn’t respond to anything from me after that, so I had to let things go. That was hard.
I knew that my expectations of best-friendship weren’t unusual or unfair, and I knew that I hadn’t done anything wrong except try to continue my relationship with my best friend. So for all of the days that have passed since then, I’ve had to accept the awful truth: my best friend didn’t want me anymore.
Breaking up with your best friend is something you never really expect, because it never really has to happen. When it happens the very month you move to her city, when you thought she’d be happy to have you there and you’d hang out all the time and share your lives and puppies and rainbows etc…that’s difficult shit to get over.
Now, since we’ve ceased to be friends, there’s a gap by my side where I’m used to having someone. I may be an independent thinker, doer, go-getter, in other parts of life (like school or work or feeling good about myself), but I really need a sidekick for my social life. Sure, I have a handful of friends here who go to parties and shows and galleries with me—in fact, they’re the most genuinely life-filled and sweet people I’ve ever, ever met—but they still don’t fill that gap. I need someone who wants to seek out the same sort of rock & roll adventure-land times that the ex-best-friend and I used to share. Without her, I feel like I’m floating in this new city without an anchor.
When we were going through high school together, we were eager teenagers navigating the nuances of a world older and more exciting than ours, as a joint effort. As a team. I miss that. ♦