When I was in high school I was part of a tight-knit group of friends. There was Yvonne, my best friend. Blonde, petite, and brainy; the girl-next-door that all the boys chased after. There was Jenny, the somewhat shy and reserved girl in glasses who reminded me of Velma from Scooby Doo: pretty, though she never seemed to realise it, naive, and very smart indeed. There was Andrea, who I’d known, and been best friends with, since nursery school, though we’d drifted apart through the years. She was tall, blonde, very slim and the smartest of us all. Never very popular, slightly socially awkward, but always interesting to talk to. And then there was Tanya. Tanya was tall, slim, had funky glasses and constantly changing hair. She was sexy in a geeky kind of way, and the most hilarious, outgoing person I had (and still have) ever met. She was never particularly interested in science like the rest of us; preferring art, cooking and music, and excelling in those subjects (not that she wasn’t smart… she just didn’t seem to care whether people thought she was smart or not). She was popular with virtually everyone, got along with everyone, and was always fun to be around.
As we went through high school we would have sleepovers at each others’ houses, go out places together, and always hung out together at school. The popular kids called us the Goof Troop, though Tanya was generally accepted among those kids too. We did generally break off into subsets too though: Yvonne and I lived within a few streets of each other so would hang out after school and at the weekends. Andrea and Tanya would go out to clubs and other places together, as their parents were a little more liberal. And Jenny was quite introverted, and her parents fairly protective, so she didn’t generally hang out with us afterschool.
As we all went to college we drifted a little, me most of all. I was in none of the same classes as the other four: not one, despite us all doing similar subjects. Andrea, Jenny and Yvonne all ended up in the same science classes together, and Jenny and Tanya were in the same art class. I was on a completely different schedule to my friends, often on the other side of the college (spread across a whole town) or studying on different days. I became very isolated and lonely. I would spend entire free periods sitting by myself in the library or walking around town bored. At around the same time I started to suffer from depression and things just went from bad to worse. I cut myself off from my friends, occasionally seeing them during breaks when we were in the same building or bumping into them on the walk to and from classes. But generally I started to make new friends and drift apart from my old ones. They would probably say I cut them off deliberately: that I had new friends now. That wasn’t really how it was. I barely knew my new friends really… I wasn’t in a place to be socialising properly with anyone. I was just chronicaly sad, lonely and depressed, and all my relationships suffered until eventually I stopped talking to my old friends at all. There was also a certain amount of trying to reinvent myself and putting my whole past behind me: a cycle I was to go through again a few years later while I was at uni… always running away and trying to begin again, cutting off all ties behind me.
As I went to uni and moved to a new city I lost touch with my old friends completely. I later did resume contact with Jenny, and we met in the city I lived in one time, then corresponded by letter for a few months. A couple of years later I went to her wedding reception to a fellow school friend. And I bumped into Tanya once or twice in my hometown when I went back to go out clubbing (she was the only one to stay in our hometown and not go to uni (a decision I now know she struggled with)). She was like a different person in my eyes, and our brief conversations were awkward. My new friends didn’t like her and her previous geeky appearance had flowered into someone very attractive and exhuberant, and I, wrongly, presumed her to be fickle and maybe even a little egocentric.
Fast-forward to now… almost ten years later. Facebook has reunited us all, though in different ways. Jenny is rarely on there, so we do nothing other than comment on the occasional status update. I’m friends with Yvonne on there, but we never actually speak to each other (there’s still some past hurts there that I’m not sure will ever be resolved). Andrea and I chat on there often, and she sometimes comments on my blog. We met up this last summer for the first time and took Nookie to a park. And up until recently Tanya and I had just had the occasional brief chat on there. Then one day we got to serious chatting, and discussed what had happened in the past… and we became friends again.
Since then we’ve met up lots of times and she has been to my house. Nookie adores her! And I can’t believe how wrong I was about her, or how stupid I was! This friend that had been such a wonderful person through high school, and for some reason I’d thought she was an entirely different person when I’d bumped into her years later. It turns out she is the same person I knew and loved all those years ago (if not more sensitive and thoughtful now than she was before); it was me that was different.
It’s amazing the way your preconceptions can be so very wrong. You make a snap judgement based on a short interaction, or decide to close your mind to possibility. I feel so lucky to have this person in my life again and so stupid for having lost her in the first place! All the time I’ve spent searching for a dear friend, and all along there was one there just waiting for me to drop the bullshit and make a fresh start. I’d presumed Tanya was a little vacuous because she’d grown up to be beautiful and seemed to be the life and soul of the party (something I now know to be very far from the truth!). I’d forgotten what a smart and sensitive person she was because when we’d briefly met we’d had nothing to talk about. I was so full of my own self-righteous judgement that I couldn’t see the person in front of me.
So to Tanya, I’m sorry for being such a bitch! I’m sorry I judged you so very wrongly and forgot the person you were/are. And I’m so very grateful to be able to call you my friend again. I feel very lucky indeed.