Looking back on it now, it was definitely a break-up of sorts. I hadn't had a boyfriend since middle school, and, because it was middle school, we don't really count that. Even back in middle school I was the one breaking up with people! Needless to say this came as a shock to me.
Me and Clara had been friends since sixth grade, and even though we weren't really best friends with each other until freshman year, we were still always in the same friend group. Clara's the type of girl who took a while to warm up to, but once you did she stuck with you like a leech, or maybe it was the other way around.
Clara and I did everything together, we listened to the same music, we shopped at the same stores, we even started a youtube channel together. With all these similarities we couldn't be more different. Clara was cool where I was invisible, Clara was a trendsetter while I was still rocking American Eagle looks that made me look 30, Clara was everyones friend while I was just Clara's friend.
I clung to her for dear life.
I hated high school and the kids in it and they all seemed to hate me too even though I'd never talked to half of them. Rumors were always going around and I guess I was the brunt of them. Back in middle school I was very controversial (as controversial as a 13 year old could be, okay?) and that impression of me stuck with my peers. I guess I can see why, I graduated from a class of 100 some odd people, so it wasn't like people didn't know me and it wasn't like they weren't watching everything I did back then. Impressions stick I guess, but whatever, I'd changed and no one seemed to notice or care.
Clara did notice, and she seemed to really like the new me. She would always call me the yellow Power Ranger because I was so nice and kind. I know it sounds like I'm bragging, I'm not trying to. Okay I kind of am. Okay I really am because, okay look, when you've been passed off by all the kids at your school as some heartless bitch, it really gets to you. I changed though! Kinda. But when you start hanging out with someone for so long, someone's likely to get fed up or bored and leave at some point. It had happened with both of us. Before it was just me and Clara, it was me, Clara, and Emma. Before that it was me, Clara, and Bea. I was no stranger to friends moving on, but through it all Clara was right there beside me experiencing the same thing.
I was never involved with anything in high school, which, looking back on now I really regret, but Clara was involved with lots of things. She ran track and cross country, and she was in the choir. She made lots of friends from this while I only had her. It made me jealous. How could she easily make friends and have people like her, but no one liked me? I felt like no one in high school was giving me a chance and it hurt.
Curse my need to be liked.
Towards the end of Junior Year I could really feel her pulling away from me and wanting to move on to other people, but I ignored it and clung tighter. She was all I knew for years and the thought of loosing her scared the shit out of me. The only reason people knew me was because they viewed me as "Clara's friend Allison." Hell, people even thought we were dating because we were so close.
I knew without her I would have no one at school and threw me back into a time where I was eating by myself at lunch, and trailing behind groups of friends at recess without any of them acknowledging me. I didn't want any of that again. I couldn't handle any of that again.
So I did what any logical person would do, I held on tighter and got upset when she would hang out without me because I thought she was leaving me out. I realize now how unhealthy and crazy this made me seem, but I just wanted someone to like me and like being around me.
By the time summer came around I was connected to her by a frayed piece of floss. I still hung on with everything I had. There was an upcoming family trip I was taking to Virginia Beach and I'd invited Clara to come along, which she agreed to, but as the date drew near she became increasingly distant.
You know those people that you have like two classes with and you sit with them in each of those classes, but you never hang out with them outside of school? I had lots of these. I decided to text one that I was closest to, Lily, and ask her for advice. She told me that I should invite someone else and become closer with them just in case Clara continued to distance herself. I agreed, but it made me anxious realizing I was going to have to meet Clara face to face right before Fourth of July and the trip to tell her I was going to ask someone else to come. I didn't even know who I'd invite, I just knew I had to do something.
There was a peace period right before this where we hung out and it felt like old times again, laughing the whole time and reminiscing on how gross we were in middle school, and how annoying we were as freshman. My heart was glowing and it felt like all the stress and sadness that had tugged it for so long was unraveling. I should've known it wouldn't last.
As I've grown I realize now that there's always a high before a drop. What I mean is there's always a great unexplainable moment right before it goes back down. A euphoric moment that doesn't feel real right before it goes back to shit. The euphoric moment doesn't always scream out in a noticeable way when it's being experienced, but it makes itself clear in hindsight.
This was my euphoric moment. My goodbye before the actual goodbye. Walking with Clara through the post-rain haze of a terrible storm with a sunset peaking through dark rainclouds. It felt like my tilted world was slowly and surely righting itself, and the ground was finally steady. The constant ache in my head was gone without any remnants. My senior year was coming up and I would have my best friend right beside me.
I remember looking at her and telling her how it felt like I was walking through a cottony dream, how nothing felt real in that moment and she just nodded her head. I don't think she understood what I meant, which happened quite a bit with my weird thoughts, but she acknowledged there was something different about this moment in time.
I drove her home later that night and went to sleep feeling whole.
The next few days went back to how it had been before and my heart felt bound once again. I knew I had to follow through with my original plan, I had to tell her someone else was coming with me on vacation. I dreaded this confrontation, but with one week before we were set to leave, I knew I needed to bite the bullet.
I texted her that morning asking if she wanted to get coffee after I got back from my eye appointment (I was, and still am blind as a bat, but less so now that I have contacts) and she agreed. She told me she didn't have a lot of time to hang out because she was eating dinner with her family so I told her it wouldn't take too long.
Driving in and of itself makes me nervous, but driving to deliver this news was excruciatingly painful. My hands kept slipping lower on the wheel from how much sweat I was producing on the five minute drive to her house.
I don't know why I drove us to Starbucks instead of just giving her the news at her house where I wouldn't have to make awkward conversation on the way there and drive her back after. But I did, so.
On the way there I tried talking about how I was talking to a guy, a guy that I totally made up, that's not the point, but she seemed more reserved. I do this annoying thing where when I get anxious I talk at Flash-like speeds about nothing, and it confused the shit out of her, but I just didn't want any awkward silences.
When we arrived at Starbucks I offered to buy her a drink, but she didn't want anything and neither did I. I couldn't prolong the conversation anymore so we sat outside at a table without any drinks. The patio was filled with people, but we were filed away in a tiny corner so I wasn't as anxious that people would see we didn't order any drinks and kick us out. Yes, I'm very weird, but I hate loitering.
I sat across from her in silence for a while. She was probably wearing a cool tank-top she found while thrifting and I was probably wearing some middle-aged looking shit from American Eagle (they're the only brand to have size 14 short in pants and I live for that, okay?), but, to be completely honest, I don't remember. I know her bob was tucked into a stubby ponytail because she didn't like her haircut and was already trying to grow it back, and I know my hair was down as usual. I had on the black cat-eye sunglasses that she'd gotten for her birthday, but didn't like them. They were perched upon my head, holding back heavy curls from my eyes, but they wouldn't stay on my head for too long.
We sat in silence for a bit, or maybe we were talking about random stuff. I could feel a mudslide coming. Something was about to fall and envelope me whole. I opened my mouth. "You've been really distant from me lately."
Cue the mudslide.
Cue what I was not expecting at all.
"We've been really close for a while, but I feel like we're holding each other back." Pause. Breathe. "It's nothing you've done, I just want to hang out with other people and I think you should too."
Oh, god. I was really being broken up with. I hadn't even realized we were together.
Tears spouted from my eyes without permission. I'm such an ugly crier too because my nose gets stuffed up and I can't breathe so I wheeze, and hack, and snot, and gross.
I hastily shoved the sunglasses over my eyes in an attempt to regain some of my dignity. Crying in public? What a fucking low. I probably started to talk, but it was making no sense because she said the infamous line. "It's not you, it's me."
If you ever hear that line, it is 100% on you and they're really just trying to break things off as quickly as possible.
Her eyes were beginning to water too, and she looked away.
"I want to be your friend, but maybe just not your best friend." Sniffle. Wheeze. Breathe. Hey, that rhymed! "I think we should take a break from hanging out too."
I wrinkled my eyebrows together. "Were you even planning on coming on the trip?" Yay, a cohesive sentence!
"I don't know, I-."
I cut her off. "When were you going to tell me?"
Her shoulders shrugged a bit helplessly. She hated confrontation as much as I did. "After Fourth of July." AKA three days before we left.
I was getting angry now. Classic. Great move. Would recommend. "You were going to wait that long? That's so selfish. At that point I couldn't even ask someone else to go with me and I'd be alone!"
She nodded like she'd given up and we sat in silence.
By silence I mean neither of us were talking, but I was definitely wheezing.
After a while I said. "Alright."
She said. "Okay."
"You don't have to drive me home."
Of course I didn't have to drive her home. The angry part of me didn't want to drive her home. I knew my mom would be disappointed if I didn't though, and I didn't want to be an ass.
"I'll drive you."
Silence. Neither of us moved to get up.
I huffed. "Alright, let's go."
I turned off the radio on the way, and for someone who hates silence, it was dead quiet then.
When I pulled up to her house, even though she said we should just take a break, I knew I would most likely never hear from her again.
We sat in the car for a second. "Will you text me when you're ready? I don't know how long you need, but I don't want to rush you or anything." Cue the rambling. "I still want to be your friend. You mean a lot to me."
She nodded and said she would.
She got out of the car and disappeared into her house.
She never did.
And thus my senior year turned to complete shit.