So there we were. Five girls, five cocktails at a table surrounded by plastic shrubbery.
It felt like something out of a movie.
At the far end of the table was girl G. The one I didn’t want to cast a general look at, let alone have in hitting distance.
Unlike the other three, she was the kind of girl who pretended to be the same breed of ‘nice’.
Travel in the ‘nice girl’ pack – tick. Gossip quietly -tick. Non-conflict -tick. Strike just the right amount of slutty meet respectable – tick. Deny when caught out – tick. Keep natural hair colour -tick and tick.
The kind of girl in high school that you were friends with from the start. Very likeable. An easy choice for a bride’s maid. But over time you realised she had an edge to her. You didn’t quite understand how or where it came from and that, made her different. And at times, it made her rather opaque to talk to.
With her, you didn’t quite know if the pool you were swimming in was deep or shallow. It could all change in just one hair flick.
See, during high school I found myself surrounded by nice girls. I found comfort in their joint appeal to be polite, kind, smart and consistent. By hanging out with them, I liked to believe I too was all those qualities. However, when my my mother left I began feeling anything but nice. I chose to instead indulge in all the tastes of pain, each with a different kind of gooey richness.
This choice often led me to feel more honest but also like the odd-flavour out. Instead of nice, I started to value boldness, individuality and having a male sense of humour, which the nice girls tried to consume (poor things) but most of the time, choked on. My dad’s male style of conflict management also went down a treat…
We both knew deep down we weren’t each other’s cup of tea but we had to survive in the cage we were placed in. If anything, we each stayed true to our loyal backbone.
And survive we did, until school ended and so did our six year soiree. Off a cliff and into the unknown, our friendship died as loudly as the breaking of bread.
I understood why the nice girls and I parted ways; I was a brumby and they were a healthy garden salad. But girl G was different.
We weren’t compatible in aspirations or ambition. But she and I were the different ones in the group. Without realising it, we had learned lessons almost of an identical nature.
And although our conversations hit walls, they always came with some sort of weight. I think overall we suffered from a case of bad timing and not enough trust. Like we wanted to be more but one of us just couldn’t get there for the other.
Over the following years, Chinese whispers took their toll. She ended up with the guy-girl group in the divorce and I got the girl who was the other wild-beast in our circle.
So here we were and yet- we weren’t.
Unlike in high school, instead of covering up when she felt uncomfortable she wore my annoyance like a ugly Christmas sweater.
For the first hour she didn’t speak. She smiled sadly like she was scared to say a word in my direction. Any conversation I hopped into, she would hop out of.
So we left and took a walk to figure out how to un-tape her mouth, in the romantic light of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
When I looked at her she was definitely different.
She embraced her feelings in the way she dressed, behaved and spoke. It was like I was seeing her for the first time, making me feel even more embarrassed for how I had behaved.
I– Holly, had done what I hated most about women.
I made it personal and (if that wasn’t bad enough), I had made it high school.
I guess my annoyance came from feeling excluded. I felt she had gained more than me, despite feeling like I invested more of myself.
I very quickly realised that no one won when we left high school. That she too had gone through fake friends in fistfuls, felt confused, wobbly and out of her element.
That she had missed me and in fact had never harboured any cold feelings towards me. And she too was curious if I had ever thought of her. She was probably the only friend I had who had ever come back into my life and reflected how I felt about others that had passed through my fingers.
Her and I were alike in our thoughts. And if that wasn’t the biggest plot twists of 2018, then can I just say, this year was going to be a great.
This Thursday night throwback had helped me understand that the thing about the past is that you have no control over what sides of yourself people’s minds choose to pick up and play with. If you have a negative or positive filter- it all manifests in a place that you have no access to.
People can’t read each others minds but you can make it okay in your own.
I also learned that we often dislike others not because of them, but because they project a time when we didn’t particularly like ourselves. Where we felt/acted foolishly and therefore our egos blame them, because it’s easier than being ashamed with ourselves. But if we are really honest, then that’s not fair. The problem is ours to solve and forgive, not their’s.
So try not to listen to your mind all the time. It’s rather crazy-town and functions on fattening your ego or indulging in your fears.
If enough time has passed, let the resentments go. Move on and let that space fill up with better memories.
A great way to start is by drinking some of your own homemade brew of closure.
My motto is if it’s done and then it’s done. But perhaps, if people are willing, it has only just begun…