It was a year that is now glazed over in gold. Every time I think back to it I smile a little and my heart sort of swells up until I feel like I can’t breathe. It was a year of loss, don’t get me wrong. A year of heartbreak. It was a year of being tossed away. But it was a year of happiness, of true friendship, of deciding who I was and what I was going to be. It was a year of decisions about my own actions, a year of so much laughing, a year of successes.
It was the year that I was 15. Weird, I know. Most of us wouldn’t even want to acknowledge that those years existed. But somehow, the year that I was 15 is a year that I’ll never forget for all the lessons I learned and experiences I had. It is now, as I mentioned, a book of memories glazed over with a gold film. Everything I remember about that year has a different light, a different feel.
It was a year where I lost the very best friend that I had ever had. The year that high school sort of “happened” and I realized that it wasn’t a healthy friendship at all. I’d heard so many times about how important it was for teenagers to choose good friends. And of course I’d agreed with it because I’d had the best friend that anybody could ever ask for. It wasn’t until a few different things began happening that I realized it wasn’t really what I thought. Or maybe it was and I had changed. I still don’t really know. All I know is that best friends don’t treat each other the way that I was being treated. I didn’t know how to get out because this friendship was my entire world. In a life where my sisters were so much older and younger than me and I was surrounded by teenage uncertainty, I felt that this best friend was my lifeline. In many, many instances she had been.
I don’t know exactly when that sisterly bond took a turn for the worse. I don’t know exactly how it happened. But it did, and the friendship I thought I had was no longer there. I realized that at any moment I could be tossed aside. It was in that moment that I watched a bond that had been so unbreakable crumble before my eyes. And I knew that I had two choices: I could let myself be thrown away and be defined by it, or I could make my own decision. And so that’s what I did.
Walking away from that friendship was so much harder than I can ever explain. But somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that I had to do it. I had to do it not just for myself at that moment but for my future. I didn’t want to be defined by her anymore, I didn’t want to have to rely so heavily on somebody for my happiness anymore. So I walked away. All I knew at that time was that it needed to be done, that somehow someday it would maybe be alright. That at some point I would be able to look at her without feeling a wave of complete pain at the huge loss that it was. I had to believe that someday, I would know it had been the right decision.
I didn’t expect the sunrise of an answer to happen so quickly. Only a few hours later a friend that I had from the Speech and Drama team asked me if I wanted to go get smoothies after school. I went with her. It was the year that we performed My Fair Lady as a cast and after getting smoothies we went back to the auditorium to continue helping out before rehearsal. I stood there backstage, helping my other friend make hats for the Ascot races scene and I felt this overwhelming sense of peace. I wasn’t okay, not really, but I knew that I would be. It still hurt so badly, a kind of emotional pain I hadn’t really ever felt. But I looked around at all of those people, talking and laughing, making hats and practicing their Cockney. I was surrounded by people that I still consider family to this day.
The rest of that school year was full of surprises. I gained two new best friends and a host of others. I participated in competitive events and prospered. I made memories that I’ll never forget. I created a comic book with my new best friends. And through it all, every once in a while, I was able to look back at that friendship, past the pain I still felt, and smile. I’ll never regret that friendship, because before it all happened, it was the best friendship and best times I’d ever known. It still wasn’t easy. In fact, to this day there is lingering residue there. But I wouldn’t have gone back for the world. The entire family that I had gained, the new friends, the new laughs, the new experiences. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I learned what it was to be me. I learned what it was to be my own person and go after the horizon. I learned what friendship really was and how much happiness we can all find.
It was, well, a very good year.