it’s easy to picture the end when it isn’t so fucking close
this guy in my multivariable calculus class is so hot. what the fuck. he tried talking to me like three times and i’m such an idiot
When I was in middle school, all the adults I knew were already talking about college. They told me that when I get to that stage in my life, I would have an entirely new set of friends. They said that the people I knew then would be fond memories and low-quality camera-phone photographs thrown carelessly on my nightstand. I would look at my best friends and shake my head.
"No. You don’t understand."
They would chuckle. “I used to say the same thing. Everyone thinks their best friends will last forever. It’s not a bad thing, though. People mature and you don’t fall out with your friends, you just drift apart.”
Nothing scared me more than drifting apart. Hearing such phrases gave me a gut-wrenching sense of despair, as if my moments in happiness were numbered and a wave of loneliness was standing at the coast, waiting for me to approach. Honestly, I would prefer a dramatic argument that ended a friendship to “drifting apart.” With “drifting apart,” there’s that attempt to reconnect and revive that old ease and love, and that attempt will always fail. Then it becomes uncomfortable, when people that were once so close realize they cannot ever go back to the way it was before.
I met one of my best friends in second grade. I didn’t have any other friends at the time and something about her drew me. I had to make such a conscious effort to talk to her and befriend her; interactions don’t come easily to me. After that, though, her friendship did come easily. She was at my house every weekend and I told her things I would never tell anyone else. In second grade, it was not that I had secrets, but I had introspective thoughts and ideas and insights that were so personal that I could not speak of them to anyone. Except her.
We went to different schools in fourth grade. For some time, I thought that was it. I thought we would “drift apart.” Sometimes, I would sit on my bed at night and tears would well up in my eyes because I could feel it coming, the separation. I’m such a dependent person, though, and I powered through it. We kept in touch and I never stopped feeling so natural with her.
That same year, I met my other best friend. She was eager and athletic and new in town. We clicked instantly, playing silly little games in her basement with her sisters and writing cute plays. I introduced the two to each other and I knew that I had forged a bond. In nature, a triangle is the most stable shape, and our three-sided friendship was meant to last.
We neared the end of elementary school and entered a competitive world beyond belief, where we all had to apply to elite middle schools. My friends and I were smart - really smart - and I didn’t doubt we could succeed in our applications. The issue arose when my fourth grade friend (let’s call her Sara) and I made it into the top-ranked middle school and my older friend (Natalie) did not. Still, I wasn’t worried.
Sara and I stumbled through the halls of middle school together. We made some friends and got straight As and pulled all-nighters to do last-minute astronomy homework. Natalie switched schools after her first year to an expensive private school; in her previous school, she was lonely, underworked and undervalued.
We formed a band and met up every week. We found a local pizza place and donned it our favorite. We made up esoteric references and watched all the same shows in marathons without rest and started to say the word “hell.” For the first time, we talked about boys and crushes and meant it. Our hair was growing long and we were growing up, all three of us.
Natalie began to make friends in her new middle school.
"I’m different now that I’m here. I’m more confident and not shy like I used to be," she had told me. I was so happy for her. She wasn’t that different in my opinion, though. To me, she had never been shy. I had always seen her for her; now, she was simply able to show her true self to everyone else.
I should have expected her to make a ton of friends. I had plenty of friends in middle school, so why shouldn’t she? I didn’t expect that I would get so damn jealous, though I wanted her happiness, but I wanted her to love me and Sara the most. I’m pretty sure she did, but the uncertainty tore me apart.
High school came and Natalie continued going to the same school. Sara and I went to the top high school in our county together, and it didn’t change a thing. The three of us were still inseparable. We began to swear often. Natalie got a boyfriend one day. We experimented with weed. Everything was perfect and idyllic.
It was in high school that I realized what those adults were talking about. I made quite a few very close friends that I would confide in and laugh with. We were always seen together (along with Sara), and I have been told that other students are “jealous of our friendship.” Yet, I know that I may part ways with these friends. And I would be sad. But I would get over it. These are the “best friends” that eventually separate and move on with just recollections holding the bonds together. They are not Sara and Natalie.
One day, Natalie slept over at my house and at 3:00 AM, we were both tired and groggy. With the lights off, we lay in our beds and spoke of anything that came to our heads. At one point, she told me that she says things to me that she would never say to any of her school friends. She told me that she would do almost anything for me, but she wouldn’t do it for anyone else except Sara. It was probably the best thing she could have ever told me, and the only thing that would quell my insecurity. I felt happier than I ever had. Yet, as night fell, a terrifying reality approached: college.
Sara’s parents are quite conservative and want her to go to a school five minutes from her house. Natalie wants to save for medical school and stay close to her mother, who needs company after her recent divorce. I am not restricted by any of those, however. So far, I have received perfect grades and perfect test scores and can most likely get in the majority of places I apply. I don’t think I will apply to Harvard and MIT, though. I don’t want to overwork myself and I want to stay with my friends. The middle ground is our flagship state school which truly is an excellent school, fortunately for us.
Lately, we’ve been looking for apartments in the area. For another four years, I feel secure. I’m praying this arrangement will work out and we can enjoy the best years of our youth together.
In our apartment search, we realized that getting a fourth roommate would make everything immensely cheaper and we could most likely get a very cute apartment. I turned to Sara and told her about this and she nodded, as if the same thought had crossed her mind.
"So… what do you think?" I asked.
"I know our friend Hailey wanted to be our roommate." We were silent for a minute.
"But I kind of like our arrangement," she added. It was true. I didn’t want to alter anything.
The future still looms over me. Four years is far from forever, and I crave forever like a plant craves sunlight - I need it. Sara and Natalie want to become surgeons and I want to become a physicist. Graduate school may take us in different directions, and that I cannot bear to imagine. Although I’m trying to move as slowly as possible, the wave of loneliness remains at the coast, prepared to consume me as soon as it can.