This is part II of a two part post. You can read Part I here: Divine Secrets of the Punk Rock Sisterhood, Part I
Heather and I both dropped out of University after our freshman year. We had our own reasons. Mine were financial, hers were not. Though fractures had started to crack the surface of our friendship, without the buffer of Washington Square Park and 8 million people between us, we picked up where we had left off. I followed her back to Boston where we found a seedy, basement apartment together. And it was like high school never ended. More boys confessing their love for her after a night of bong hits and beer, whispering confidences to me in a haze of cigarette smoke and vodka fumes. More time spent trying to figure out why, despite a seeming lack of emotion on Heather’s part toward things that made the rest of us cower and cry, she continued to draw people in. Was I jealous? Of course I was. In my very young adult eyes, everything came easy to Heather. Whatever Heather wanted, Heather got. Or so it seemed. With time and tide between now and then I know this wasn’t necessarily a fair assessment. But envy and confusion and emotion and depression have a tendency to crawl like weeds over the truth, strangling the light out of the situation, making it dark and impossible to decipher.
The beginning of the end came the night she told me she was moving to California. We had made plans to go back to New York. My heart was there, buried in the avenues, beating beneath the streets. My freedom. I missed being my own person instead of part of DinaandHeather, HeatherandDina, and New York was a big part of that. She was supposed to come with me, we would be together, like we always were, but in New York we could be together but separate. In New York there were be a breath between our names, a pause. But she chose somewhere else, someone else. And in the next breath, like a point-blank shot to the head, told me she didn’t want me to go with her.
And here is classic Heather: She was surprised that this upset me.
When I look back, I know that in the heightened, hormonal throes of teenager-ness that I probably would have opened a vein for her. She had that kind of effect on me. For ten years, there was an underlying sense of drowning in our friendship. Despite this, despite giving and giving until my I bled myself dry, I never got anything back. There was a hardness there, a shell that protected her. Something cold, something off. Something impenetrable.
Ultimately, this is what caused me to sever our friendship. She moved to California. We kept in mostly touch. And there was a boy, there’s always a boy. A boy I had a fling with, a crush on, a thing for back in Boston. And then she got her claws into him and something happened that it’s not my right to say, but she never told me. When I eventually found out, I had one of those crystalline moments when you suddenly realize that everything is not what it had seemed. Where everything is illuminated. Because she just didn’t care. And she didn’t get why I would care. And here’s the thing: I didn’t care. I certainly didn’t care about the guy, who was a throw-away fling, a not-worth my time guy. I didn’t care that she’d snared him into her web. I didn’t even care that she hadn’t told me. I didn’t care at all. About her, about what she did, about what kind of life she wanted. Because for 10 years I had given her my heart and she had given me almost nothing in return.
So in a tiny walk up in New York City, the kind of apartment with the bathtub in the kitchen and a chain flush toilet, I told her I didn’t want her in my life anymore. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but it wasn’t as hard as you would think either. It wasn’t tearful, it wasn’t dramatic, it was just….cold. Precise and clean, like a surgeon’s cut. She thought, like I said, that it was about a boy. I don’t think she believed me when I told her it wasn’t, but I was beyond caring at that point. That New York City night, it seemed to me that a decade worth of one-sidedness was coming to an end. When she left I felt I could float from that third floor window. I felt like my shoulders sprouted wings, like Icarus. Like I was light enough to soar above the Avenues.
I felt free.
Even now people who I meet from high school ask me “What happened to Heather? You two were always together.” And it’s true, we were. DinaandHeather, HeatherandDina. But I only saw her once or twice after that night. I honestly don’t know which path she eventually chose. I know that she had some serious heartbreak, I think there may have been a lover who died. I have heard, third or fourth hand of places she has ended up, darts thrown in a map. I know her mother passed away a few years ago. But I do not know what has become of her. Not really.
In moments of forgiving nostalgia, I have looked for her in the years since. Nothing complex, wholly half-hearted. But I’ve found no trace. It’s not easy to hide from the sticky tentacles of technology, unless you want to. I am not sure how I would feel about seeing her again, about hearing from her, about finding out which road she took. Is she a mother now? A wife? Did she end up meeting the love of her life and throwing caution to the wind and marrying him in a moonlit ceremony on the shores of a California beach? Did she find a passion, a joy, a reason to live? If I had to place a bet on the girl I knew then, the answer would be no. But things change.
I am not the same person I was in middle school, in high school, in college. I am sure she is not either. And even if she was the same, I know that perhaps I was too harsh, expected too much, wanted more of her than she could give. But she couldn’t give it, for whatever reason. Perhaps it simply wasn’t there to give. Perhaps there were facets I was not aware of, rumblings beneath the surface that made it impossible. I was too young and naive myself to think about why, I only knew that it didn’t happen. But, and here is the second huge but, by Heather being Heather, she planted a seed of confidence that sixth grade summer. The seed may have taken a decade to grow, but when it did, it set down roots and reached toward the sun. It is ironic that it took the end of our friendship for me to figure that out. But by Heather being Heather, she gave me the confidence to go out on my own and never doubt myself.
And I’ve never looked back.