In high school, having a best friend is crucial. A best friend is the one accessory you cannot be without. If you didn’t have one, life was miserable. Lucky for me, I had one. Rachel. She was pretty, had the coolest clothes from Hollister, and her parents let her have parties. DRINKING parties. She was the coolest, and I was lucky to be her best friend…or so I thought.
All through high school, Rachel was my go-to. She was the first person in my MySpace Top 8, the first initials listed in my AIM profile, and the one who introduced me to my first boyfriend. He was a typical high school football player, just like Rachel’s brother, so by being friends with Rachel, I was friends with her brother and the football team. Man, did I have it all. Drinking in her parents’ backyard, talking to these football players, and wearing the tiniest denim skirts.
Rachel was my best friend, but at that time, I didn’t really have high standards. We were friends due to the fact that we liked the same music and were both boy crazy. Our conversations were so superficial, and I remember thinking to myself “damn, she doesn’t have any feelings” because of her reaction to my attempt at deep conversations. We remained friends all through high school and college, mostly out of obligation and convenience on my end. I had to keep someone around, because who would I hang out with when I went home for school breaks? Being with her was better than being lonely. As I got older, I realized how selfish and self absorbed she was, but I just pushed it to the side because she was fun to hang out with. But being fun is not what makes someone a good friend.
It was the summer after we both graduated college. I was going into graduate school, and she was on the job hunt. We went out, as we had done so many times in the past, but this time, it was different for some reason. Maybe we knew we had started outgrowing one another. Maybe we knew this friendship was superficial. That night, I couldn’t stand to be around her. She was a sloppy mess, leaving me to piece together whatever she destroyed. She almost got into two fights that night, and was saved by me talking our way out of it both times. She made out with three guys that night, and almost left with one who was a stranger to us. The night was a mess, and I was the one left to clean it up.
I drove her home, because she had asked me to drive so she could get drunk and I obliged. But after I dropped her off, I realized that I always obliged. It was always me. I was the one bringing her ice cream when she didn’t feel well, I was the one cheering her up when her parents didn’t buy her the latest designer clothing, I was the one who stood up for her when she tried to flirt with other girl’s boyfriends (which she did…a lot). I was the one who stood by watching her make every bad decision. I was the one who supported her and loved her through it all, and that night I realized that I was done. I couldn’t maintain a friendship with someone who stressed me out so much and gave me nothing in return.
The night I dropped her off was the last time I ever saw her. Despite living two blocks away and having the same friends, I decided to ghost her. I decided to ghost her because I knew an explanation would lead to one of two things. Either her convincing me and manipulating me to stick around, or her tarnishing my name around town and leaving me alone in the dust. Maybe ghosting her wasn’t the best idea, but it was my only idea at the time. She continued to text and call me for a few weeks, but I didn’t give in. I answered her in the beginning, claiming I was busy and had other plans, but eventually, I stopped. I just stopped answering and let her wonder what happened. I wonder if she even wonders.
My friendship with Rachel taught me a lot. It taught me that I’m worth more than what I thought. It taught me that I shouldn’t just fade into the background and follow everyone around me. It taught me that I should realize I can be a lead singer, not just a back up singer. It taught me that it’s okay to be a little bit selfish and do what you want sometimes. It taught me that people are not always who they seem or who you want them to be. It taught me to do what’s right for me and not worry about other people’s thoughts of me.
I’m not proud of how our friendship ended, and part of me regrets it because she was involved in so many of my high school memories. She was my one constant in high school, and is tied to so much. While high school was an overall awful experience for me, there were good times. And most of those good times took place in Rachel’s backyard, in the arms of a high school football player sipping Mike’s Hard Lemonade.