I was born a “city kid” and was getting by pretty well when my parents decided we would be better off growing up in suburbia. They dreamed of a house to call our own and we were excited and naive at the possibilities. The next two years were filled with newspaper clippings and long car rides as we searched to fulfill my mother’s caviar dreams with beer money. If only there had been an app for that back in 1996.
The move fared quite well for my nearly five year old brother who would begin his journey through school in our new “country” town. The only friendships he had formed were with the two boys we shared our duplex with who showed their affection by bashing each other in the head with a plastic bat.
I was a bit shy of my tenth birthday, had a large group of friends at school and my very best friend Sabina living next door. Our duplex sat high on a hill. The day of our move my dad pulled the Uhaul all the way up and around to the flat back of the yard. I remember sitting in the truck with her, promising each other we would call every day.
I did see her a few times after that day, we called on holidays and occasionally ran into each others family’s. I even ended up re-connecting with her a few years ago through Facebook. I went to her bridal shower and got invited to her wedding. She has since moved to California with her husband and son. We do not keep in touch.
Our new house had a driveway and yard that connected to our neighbor. My brother and I were playing around in the new yard as my parents were unloading our life out of the truck. I saw a young girl looking at me through the window of the other house, I waved and she waved back, then she disappeared. Our paths finally crossed again a few days later as we played out in our adjoining yard. Her name was Michelle, just like my mom. She had golden blond hair and long straggly legs. She taught me everything a bookish city girl needed to know about living in the country. We caught frogs together and played in the mud. We would disappear in the woods for hours in our own fantasy world, one that only we could understand. She was the first person I have ever truly loved. She is the closest I could ever come to having a sister. Every time I think about her now, I feel that painful pressure in my face as I try to hold back the tears while they well up inside.
We spent every waking moment together, or at least we would have if her mother wasn’t always trying to get her to make play dates with other girls. Apparently it isn’t healthy to spend all your time with one person. Plus, I was a “bad influence” because my parents liked to throw parties and smoke weed out on our back deck. But when the only person you really care about lives right next door, it’s pretty impossible not to at least try and live vicariously through the movie “Now and Then”. So we begged for every chance to be together because we thought our life was perfect and, we didn’t need anyone else. She was “the one”, my soul sister.
Our friendship was blossoming beautifully, we were as inseparable as her parents would allow. By the age of twelve we had thoroughly convinced most the people we met that we were twin sisters, the real deal. We even went ahead and called out “mom” to which ever mother we were with when out in public just to keep up our image. The only interest we had in boys involved throwing mud at them and that was just fine by us. But that all changed one fateful day arriving home from school.
My mother was on the phone crying hysterically, swearing and screaming. I took my brother into our “secret” reading nook in my bedroom closet. We listened, held each other and cried. He did what with who, where? In our house? Dad is moving out? We’re they getting a divorce? What about our vacation, are we still going to Disney? You promised.
That day changed the path of my life. That day stole my innocence. That day taught me anger, betrayal and pain. My daddy wasn’t who I thought he was. My mommy was broken. Who would take care of us?
I did the best I knew how. I cooked food so my mom could try to eat. I held my brother tight when we couldn’t sleep because the cries coming from her room were too loud to drown out. I tried to be a good girl, I just could no longer speak. I was told it was not their “fault”.
My mother took me to a therapist, she talked a lot to him as I sat in silence. I never went back. I started to notice boys. I met one who said that he liked me. It felt amazing. For the next three years, I could not let go of that feeling no matter how much he hurt me.
I began cutting and burning myself, smoking cigarettes, drinking and spending a lot more time with kids at school who had similar interests. The following year Michelle’s parents enrolled her in a Christian school because she was having so much trouble “fitting in”. My parents saw this as an opportunity to get me away from my “problems” as well.
I met a girl named Amanda, she was a year older then me and already having sex. She was also into smoking, drinking and self mutilation. We formed a small group of misfits and raged on. Michelle met Alicia, a beautiful girl who was in a wheelchair due to muscular sclerosis. We got into an argument one day about something so important I can’t for the life of me think what it was. We didn’t talk again for quite awhile.
The school was not doing well financially and closed at the end of our first year. Michelle’s parents decided to build a house in the next town over, I started public high school. She continued to struggle with making friends while I remained consumed by the unhealthy relationship I had with Nick.
Freshman year was hell. You know that scene in Mean Girls when Cady eats her lunch in the bathroom stall? That was me only, I was crying. Many things had changed during my time away. I was hazed and bullied every single day by the exact same people I had known as my only friends. Again, this was my “fault” because, why would anyone pick on a kid who isn’t instigating a fight?
My home life was not much better. I never knew what I would be walking into every time I got off the bus. How drunk was my mother today? Would my dad be screaming? How long until he leaves again? Do I really have to visit him? Why don’t either one of you love us any more? Do you really expect us to respect you when you can’t even respect yourselves? What the hell happened to Disney?
I couldn’t concentrate. I was so damn angry. I went from taking all high level honors classes to barely passing the low ones they switched me into just so I could get through to the next grade. I spent my nights sitting in bed for hours crying, screaming and crying more. I was overtaken by the obsession I had for him. I was so lonely. I missed my family. I was so full of emotions. I needed something else to dull the pain…
to be continued