When You Care A Lot It Hurts A Little

(pictured- me and my teddy bear, Pinky, the loyalest friend I’ve ever had, 1998, probably.) 

I don’t know about you, but at least as a kid, I was serious about friendships. The real ones, I mean. Even at seven, eight years old, I felt sentimental about things like memories we shared or games we made up together.

I mean, I had 101 Dalmatian sneakers that I wore for about a year, and when I grew out of them, my mom threw them away in a big black garbage bag. I cried. It wasn’t because I still desperately wanted to wear them, but the whole thing was so unceremonious for our time spent together. This probably isn’t the best example since I didn’t necessarily think go the pair of shoes were my “friends”, but it just proves me point that I was extremely sentimental, and had shown early signs of “nostalgia-itis”.

Anyway, it’s terribly heartbreaking when you realize your friend doesn’t care about you as much as you care about them. I learned about this way too early in life, and then again in high school.

I’ll start with the high school one, only because I was just chatting with someone about this, and the memory (and the wound) is fresh.

I had been friends with Mary (not her real name) since middle school. Mary, Sasha (real name alert!!) and I were kind of like a threesome for our two years of middle school. We did everything together. We even passed around a notebook filled with gossip and fun stories, which we’d respond to, then hand to the next person to take home for a week. It was kind of like the jeans from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but way less gross. Anyway, Mary and I drifted apart slightly in high school but it was no big deal. We were making friends in different circles. That’s okay. But one day at lunch, I knew she no longer thought of me as a friend.

It was the first day of senior year, and it was lunch time. There wasn’t anyone in the cafeteria that I was friends with. Then I saw Mary walking out with her tray of food.

Thank goodness! I said, and told her how absolutely relieved I was to see her. She invited me to the senior courtyard to sit with her and her friends. I was so thankful. We get there, and the courtyard is packed. Every table and every bench was full. There was a sliver of a seat next to her boyfriend, let’s call him Teddy. Without hesitation and without any acknowledgement towards me, she sits next to Teddy and started talking to her friends.

I stand there like an idiot, holding my tray of food, saying nothing. She noticed me again after fifteen seconds.

“Oh… sorry,” she said, and turned back to her friends who seemed to care even less that I stood there with nowhere to sit than she did.

I let go of that friendship that day, and I was okay with that.

 

Ok, now let’s go back to elementary school. If this backwards order is confusing to you, I’m sorry. But this this one is a much better example of how thoughtful I could be. I hate tooting my own horn, but damn it, I was.

I made friends with the most popular girl in school, Becca. Becca isn’t her real name, but it sounds like a real popular girl name, doesn’t it? Becca and I sat next to each other at lunch every day, passed notes during class, and had frequent playdates and sleepovers.

My favorite playdate/ sleepover was when we went ice skating one evening. It was one of our favorite things to do. On the way home, we stared out the back window of my dad’s Dodge Caravan, and watched the lights on the highway zoom away from us. I said it looked like they were floating lights, since it was so dark outside we couldn’t see the posts. Becca and I marveled at the floating lights the whole way home.

At Becca’s birthday party that year, all of her friends gave her store bought cards that their moms probably picked out. I, however, had painted her card for her in MS paint. I painted the background a dark, dark blue, and used yellow to draw lights, zooming away. Underneath, I wrote, “Flying lights in the dark”. I thought it was painfully artistic.

Becca looked at it and made a face like it stank. She held it away from her face. She didn’t get it. After I explained it to her, she said, “Ok…” and threw it aside.

She was embarrassed.

 

Friendships are worth pursuing, but don’t run yourself dry trying to get them to care as much as you do. Those ones might not be worth it.

I guess, in the end, my sentiments are exactly this:

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