Back in middle school, when both reality TV and the concept of popularity was on the rise, we used to play Survivor. This was simply a cruel way to get rid of girls we didn’t like sitting with us. I believe this ritual was done only two or three times, but it was enough to become a part of my childhood memory. At the 13 year-old mecca known as the lunch table, we’d politely tell a girl that she had been voted off the island and could no longer sit with us (Tina Fey must have been a lunch aide during this time). The conversation would usually end in tears and eventually we’d pull the “just kidding” line and they’d be back sitting with us, usually stemmed from my guilt of ostracizing girls at their most awkward stage of development.
These table eliminations would involve myself and two of my best friends. Our fourth counterpart went to a different school, but I’d swear she was in there in spirit as sometimes my memory places her right alongside our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We were inseparable, slightly awkward and the entire bit loud. These would be the girls that I would celebrate birthdays with, go to sweet sixteens with, try my first sip of liquor with and have my first lesbian-esque experiences with. There was no doubt in my mind that we’d be on the altars at each others’ weddings and chasing each other in nursing homes.
That is, until they dumped me.
Post-college in 2011, things went into the s**tter for college grads. I had three internships under my belt, one being at one of the best selling women’s magazines out there. I had studied abroad and completed a book, all while managing to still get wasted and partake in the occasional wild sex story. I knew I was meant to be something great, and although my girlfriends really didn’t have aspirations that paralleled mine, I still loved them.
The four of us never really had anything in common, we just happened to be in close proximities in math and history classes circa 2001. Like every other girl, I liked to think of us as the less emotional and more insane version of Sex and the City. All different but all having our quirks that made us mesh perfectly together. No matter what bumps in the road we hit, we were always able to sweep them under the rug and go party.
Now when I was interning in the city YET AGAIN trying to make sense of my life, they were all still at home or in school. I had struggled with depression for years and I felt myself beginning to regress. It’s like a wave that you see in the distance, slowly swelling, gathering and picking up speed as it comes closer. I was questioning my self-worth after moving home and juggling internships to prove that I was the one dancing monkey that should be chosen for a job.
After eight months of this, I was still working, losing money and going nowhere. My home life was nothing but screams and fights and my love life that was supposed to end in an engagement, crumbled around me. It was a 1-2 punch in a boxing match and my heart was K.O.ed.
I didn’t want to bother my girlfriends, they wouldn’t understand anyways (I’d later realize this is why I never talked to them about ANYTHING serious for ten years). I was still fun and goofy. I could still play Survivor.
So when one of the Fantastic Four invited me out, I said yes. It had been awhile. I was excited to see them and even offered to drive.
This would be the last night we would be all together. I had gotten home from work at 9pm and scurried to put myself back together and pick everyone up to head to a local club.
The night started off fine, but slowly began to assist in my meltdown. My friends demanded we stay right next to the speakers while the band played. There was no way I was willing to risk my hearing for a s**tty cover band, so I broke off and headed to the back. Next, I tripped on my heels (which I NEVER do, I worked in NYC for Christ’s sake) and slammed into some girls. I saw stars because I hit my nose so hard and everyone gasped. I picked myself up and then proceeded to wash the pain away with a drink. I then made my way back out by the band and they played a song that I’ve loved almost as long as I’ve loved my three girlfriends. About not giving up, that you’re just in the middle of this ride called life. Regardless of the s**t people say and things that happen, in time you’ll be okay.
And then I lost my ticket for the coat check. I lost it. I began crying and tried retreating to the bar where my friends were. None of them tried to help me find the stub. None of them asked me what was wrong as the tears trickled down my face. As hard as I tried to stop them I couldn’t. I was Alice in Wonderland: large, exposed and unable to stop crying. As I did I felt myself shrinking smaller and smaller.
I was cast off to sea. I drove my one friend home, as the others insisted on staying later and that I was no fun for wanting to leave at 1:30am. The tears had subsided as a mere means of survival and I drove home as if nothing was wrong. Since then they haven’t really talked to me.
Why they cast me out, I really don’t know. This was the only time I cried while out, I’m not a Sammie or Ron at a bar. Looking back though, I remembered the other times that I had cried out for help and they turned me off their radar. Like the time I was in a car accident, which damages I am still physically battling. Or the times when I’d slice open my wrists whenever I was sad. Or the time I lost the love of my life. And the time they forgot my birthday, and I cried all doe-eyed asking “Why?” And finally the time that I couldn’t get a job, felt useless and was battling my father at home. Backs were turned.
There was always a sense of competition between us. Men in high school that would get swiped into a dark corner at a party for a smooch after another girl in our group would spend hours talking to him. There would be jealousies of appearance or accomplishments, followed by a tear-filled phone call or leering eyes. We ping-ponged out insecurities off each together and then washed it down with rum and continued to have a good time. I knew that we weren’t perfect, but I was always there to listen and to cradle a broken head or heart if need-be.
So maybe you do have people in your life that have been there for a while, and maybe it’s okay to have break-ups with friends. I call these friends, chapter friends. Some come into your life for a mere page or two, others can fill the chapters of an entire decade. But as you get older, and realize that sometimes you befriend quite simply, “Mean Girls” with no aspirations, then maybe it’s okay to be voted off the island.
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