Thursday, September 28, 2006

when friendships die, where does the love go

A couple of days ago, I was contacted by an old high school friend out of the blue (wow…I knew that MySpace thing would come in handy some day). Kimmie and I did some catching up over email and I was dumbstruck by one of her questions (which I’ve yet to answer): How’s Abby?

Abby was my best friend. She started attending school with me in the 4th grade. We weren’t friends at first. She was very competitive with me in regards to grades. Whenever we would get a quiz or paper back, she would ask me what grade I got and smile to herself if hers was higher (this is the kind of dorky stuff we did at my private Catholic school). After a while, I got used to it and started to use this competition to get better grades.

We became really close in the 8th grade and eventually went to the same high school together, where we also met Kimmie. Abby and I did everything together—lunch, shopping, movies, whatever. At the time, she was the only person in the world that I trusted with everything, who knew everything about me. She even predicted that I would end up marrying a black man (still not quite sure why she said that at the time, but, if Jesse and I work out then that would make her Miss Cleo). Our families were friends and spent a lot of time together. We were practically sisters.

Our friendship continued when we went to separate colleges—I was off to USC (as you all know) and she went off to Long Beach State. She would come up to LA to visit or spend the weekend. We did our usual stuff together despite the distance. When we couldn’t hang out together, we’d talk on the phone for hours about all sorts of stuff—boys, clothes, sex, religion, life, dreams, ambitions. I’m not quite sure what happened, but one day it all started to change.

She had gone to England on a study abroad program and had really, really enjoyed it. I was happy for her because I knew that study abroad would be a great experience for her. However, when she returned, she couldn’t quite adjust. Coming back to Cali, she realized that her life there hadn’t changed much although she had changed drastically as a person. I believe that Abby was truly happy in England and she felt that she could never experience that kind of happiness again. She became depressed, but didn’t want to talk to me about it. It was very frustrating for me. I felt that I was losing my friend and she wouldn’t let me help her. I wanted so desperately to get her to open up to me. After awhile, we stopped hanging out. She stopped returning my calls. She stopped going to church (where our families usually saw each other). Her mom would tell me, “Please talk to Abby. She’s just so sad now.” After my many attempts to reach her failed, I suggested to her mom that she see a professional.

I thought that maybe I should give her some time to herself. I wanted to be there for her during her recovery, but she had essentially shut me out of her life. A few months later, on her birthday, I decided to surprise her with flowers and balloons. I drove to her house, saw that no one was there, and placed the flowers by the front door and tied the balloons to the knob. I expected her to be all surprised by the time she got home, take a look at the card, be happy that I thought of her, and then call me. That call never came.

I’m not really sure what happened to Abby. Her family stopped going to church. I moved away to DC and didn’t take her phone number with me. I figured, what would be the point of contacting her now?

Three years ago, I was visiting Cali and was on my way to see a long, lost friend. I ran into Target to buy a card for my friend. Walking by some aisles, I did a double take. In the picture frame aisle was Abby, looking exactly as I remembered her. She looked up from a frame, recognized me and smiled. I walked towards her to say hi. She walked towards me and came within a yard of me and stopped. It was awkward. Do we hug? Can it be like old times?

It didn’t feel appropriate so we didn’t hug. We made some small talk. She told me that I looked very different. She told me that she works as an educator for kids with special needs. I told her that I live in DC now and was just in town for a visit. To end the awkwardness, I ended it by saying, “It was nice to see you again. Take it easy.”

I think about this now and I get a lump in my throat. Abby was my soul sister and now she’s a stranger to me. We had such plans for our future—like maybe having a joint wedding or being each other’s maid of honor. It still hurts me that she pushed me away when I wanted to be there for her. I guess it was something that she wanted to get over on her own. Even now after all this time, I wish I could’ve been there to support her.

1 comment:

Law-Rah said...

This is a sad, yet oh so common, scenario