In high school Beth and I were in the same group of friends, an unstoppable combo of girls usually reserved for the pages of young adult books. We had sleepovers on our friend Izzy’s trampoline and hung out on Tessa’s sunroof while blasting Lauryn Hill. We made photo collages and hung out doing stupid stuff (that we wouldn’t want to be caught doing) in strip mall parking lots. Beth and I were inseparable.
So when Beth and I ended up going to the same college, it seemed natural that we’d live together. Why endure the random roomie with halitosis and a penchant for clipping her toenails on my throw pillow? Beth and I would obviously live together. We never argued, never had that competitive dynamic sometimes present in female relationships. And besides, we were FRIENDS, not Siamese-twins. We would build our own separate lives.
It wasn’t until sophomore year that things changed. Without realizing it was happening, we had blended together—I could no longer tell where she ended and I began. If I started wearing suede clogs, Beth bought a pair. If I loved the new Ben Folds album, Beth loved it more. My two best friends from college lived with us then, and they had issues with Beth, to the point that everything—dishes left in the sink, some side comment, the hot senior on the 5th floor—was a fight. Beth kept coming to me, wanting me to defend her when neither person was right. Eventually it was clear: I needed space. Another apartment, another building, another block. I knew our friendship wouldn’t survive another year of living together. But I also knew she’d never forgive me for moving out.
After I told her how I felt we stopped talking. She moved in with another roommate, and I moved in with the two other girls, sealing my fate as The Heinous Traitor Ex-Best-Friend. I reached out several times but she ignored me, still hurt by my decision. Senior year felt like some reality TV divorce—divvying up friends, slinging insults, lots of blaming and avoidance. Why couldn’t she forgive me? How could that one decision erase the five years of friendship that came before?
Five years later, I walked up the stone path to our mutual-friend Izzy’s house, her bridal shower gift in my hands. Beth and I hadn’t spoken, much less seen each other, since those last days of college. I should’ve been over it. By that point I should’ve stopped wondering where she worked or who she was friends with. Why did I still care what she thought of me?
As I stepped into Izzy’s living room, I noticed Beth by the kitchen door. She turned, and for a brief moment she smiled—an easy, all consuming smile, just like the kind I knew from high school. We hugged, but within minutes the pain returned, the feelings as fresh as they’d been before. The rest of the shower we avoided one another.
Two weddings and nearly a year later, we managed to become Facebook friends. Now and then I still look at her page. When I click through those pictures I don’t hurt anymore. I wonder how I ever felt so angry with her. I can’t even remember the things that were said. She’s become like another ex-boyfriend to me, reduced down to just a few photo albums, pictures of someone I loved and lost.
Anna Carey is the author of the Eve trilogy published by HarperCollins. The first book in the series, Eve, was released in October and the sequel, Once, is available now. Follow @annacareybooks on Twitter.
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