she: "Odd that you are my oldest and truest friend from high school but I didn't even know you in high school"
me: "That's because you were waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too cool for me then"
she: "I wish I had known that then....."
And believe me, she was very cool then. Long long long hair that hung straight down her back over her Go-Getter's booster club sweater that was every bit as wonderful as the varsity sweater the cheerleaders wore. She was never alone. She was always with the other fabulously cool girls, walking in their fabulously cool pack, laughing their ..... well, you get the picture. Social worries? Issues? Anxieties? Problems? No way those girls dealt with anything more horrifying than not having the exact right color grosgrain ribbon for their perfect pony-tails.
It wasn't about money; we were all middle-class to one degree or another. It wasn't about anything discernible to my pubescent self, just on the cusp of something but not knowing what. They knew, though, those totally cool girls. They had to know - they were so confident. I was as much fun to be around as they were - why didn't they notice?? And why did I care? Yes, I asked myself that even then. But recognizing that you're doing something absurd doesn't equip you to quit.
When we met junior year in college, she was a transfer student with a boyfriend but no one else on campus. I recognized her immediately. After all, she'd been "someone" in high school. I don't remember how we became so close, but I do remember my amazement that someone as cool as she wanted to be my friend.
But she did. It turned out that we really knew each other very well, even without knowing each other at all. Inside and out. Laughing or crying (fabulously or otherwise) it was like going to high school all over again, only on Bizarro . The other side was real and it was sitting on my couch telling me that she never felt cool and that the girls were often mean to one another and that most of their Saturday nights were spent with each other or on the phone while they were babysitting. Not parties every weekend. Not relishing the good life. Not conscious of how inconspicuous the rest of us felt. Worst of all, she wasn't always happy.
Now "always happy" is what I'd wished for on every birthday cake my whole life up til then. To find out that what I'd known to be the living embodiment of my birthday wish wasn't that at all ...... time stopped. And just as fast, started right back up again, only this time "always happy" had become "happy as I am right now".
The grass is always greener? Be careful what you wish for? Nope, just this : Thanks, my true friend.
"This is where Dionne lives. She's my friend because we both know what it's like for people to be jealous of us."