Letters I've saved from a big argument I had with my then-best-friend Christine in February of 12th grade, 1994:
i know your little handwriting ploys, especially when it comes to those upper and lowercase letters. it's not even subtle.
when i first got your letter, i read it and wanted to reply by telling you not to blame all your problems on me. that it wasn't my fault that you are you. not that you were being silly, but that you had focused your anger on the wrong person. but i must have known this wasn't it, because i didn't write that letter. instead, i let your crumpled letter settle in my backpack. for a while, i was immune to it and to what you said. but something itched to be discovered. something neither of us understood for what it really was. so i write this letter - in an attempt to find out the real problem, to communicate.
okay, you say friendship is equal. but you fail to mention that friendship is also mutual. you gave me too much from the beginning. no use denying it. when you "begged" me to pay attention to you, as you put it, i was already overwhelmed. i sought solace in what i knew, a friendship where you give enough to feel comfortable and let the rest, the uncomfortable stuff, come out gradually as trust increases and the connection becomes one in which it is okay and almost necessary to open up without discomfort. i found such friendship with shaudi. i never achieved complete comfort with her. it was a rather superficial friendship because we didn't know each other that much. i wasn't capable of it. it might not have been my immaturity at the time but rather that she wasn't the right person. given time, it might have become a real mutual friendship. i will never know.
starting a friendship at a simple level can lead smoothly to a mutual, equal, fulfilling friendship. with some people, it happens effortlessly and quickly. but i suppose the view of friendship must be similar from both sides. if ours had been, we might not be facing this now.
you started the friendship with too much boldness. i couldn't handle it. i thought that i could deny it and leave the discomfort behind. yet you persisted. eventually you seemed to calm down. your demands as a friend were less powerful. i wasn't sure if you had given up or were ready to wait. but i guess it isn't in your nature to leave friendship as a slow and gradual process. you say you want equality, for me it was too soon for true equality. i could only give what was comfortable for me, and i was wary of what you gave me, always. at some points, i feared it. i could tell that you were giving me chances to equalize that imbalance, that what you gave and what i gave were increasingly different. maybe i never got over that initial forcefulness. it is a powerful weapon you wield - it can get a message across but it can also frighten people.
you kept telling me i was too normal, too boring. according to you, i have never lived, loved, felt real pain, experienced anything human. you may not have meant to do it, you could have been trying to overcome what you thought i said about you being unworthy of my friendship. but as you felt unwanted, i felt devoid of humanity. of course, i still had my God to tell me i had meaning. when you have only yourself, self image is the only thing that matters. your struggles are more difficult in that sense. tell me if i am wrong: we both misinterpreted each other's words and actions. my unpreparedness for your type of friendship forced me to deny you in any way i could, whether by telling myself "your opinion of me didn't matter because you weren't really my friend" or by ignoring you. you told me i wasn't human, not as good as you because of my faith, my naivete of the world, and on smaller levels like my aversion to david bowie and guys who wear make-up, all because you thought i found you worthless and you wanted to reinforce your self-worth. i almost believed you at one point and tried to live up to your expectations. i listened to alternative music, paid attention to all your opinions until eventually i could agree with them. did you know you had a potential cynthiist in your grasp? i finally broke away from that and told you that even if you loved this or that, i didn't like it. i am human, i have a right to friendship in the way i like, just as you have the right to have it the way you like.
we never got to the compromise. you wanted equal, i wanted mutual. i could not yet give you equality and without equality, you could not make the friendship mutual.
i don't know where to go with this. is it as mrs. lord says about extended essays: nothing is salvageable? i don't think we can start over completely. i felt comfortable with my friendship with you, but sometimes not comfortable enough. i have no secrets to hide, would you still keep yours hidden for me? are we being deceitful if i don't want you to tell me things? can we return to the way we were before? can something be saved? mending the rift might work, but only with intense effort. the continuum of friendship ripped because it was weak in certain places. begin end backtrack close open . . .
(you sound like the "someone" in my UC Regents essay & i'd rather you not be a person who hates feminists - so i'll call you CYNTHIA.)
By the way, if I could remember, I would write "i" instead of "I," because that's how I feel, but I hate dotting my "i"s - okay?
Okay, I can deal with those options. What do you mean by respectfully? - to stop denying what you say in my mind? to say aloud that you are a wonderful human being? believe it and say it? not say anything at all if I can't say anything nice? does this mean I can't make fun of Robert Smith's makeup or David Bowie? does respect mean I have to agree with you, listen to you? I need guidance here. I can do it if I know what it is. (unless it involves paying complete attention to you when you tell me the ERAs of all Angels players from 1977-1993.)
Also, what about this "no secrets" thing? Are we all keeping things hidden? Even to say "Don't tell anyone I did that"? Does that count as a secret? If I have someone else's secret (not in our 3-way best-friendship group of you, Kathy and me), must we tell everyone?
let me tell you something: what prompted my letter. It wasn't because I wanted to call you. (to ask you about homework). It's just that everything seemed out of whack. I finally felt that something was wrong. I don't know what. I know what I wrote affected me in some way. I cried, almost. I held those tears back. Thinking about the three of us, I almost cried twice today. my smiles were tinted w/ pain.
Actually, right now I don't feel like three or two either. I feel like one. Utterly and completely alone. I don't feel I am getting any sincere reacting from anyone. I feel like everyone is Julie.
how can I go from one to three? I'm in a mess.
i don't know what you mean by those two options.
do you want to tell kathy you're bi? she's curious: but telling her would make her three.
I have no support here. I'm stuck. But I'm willing that's the most important part.
Why can I not make fun of robert smith's make-up? i don't mean he's wicked or lower (intellectually or other) I just think it's dumb. I know it's a statement & that he looks better with it. I've heard you defend him. You take out all the fun in a friendship if I can't make fun of things. You can make fun of me. You've got to understand that it isn't personal (I mean nothing negative towards you - Kathy says Pearl Jam sucks and all the members are ugly, etc. - I never feel that she is making me inferior to her musical tastes, BECAUSE she doesn't mean it that way) I never do either.
You have to understand, I have to make it clear that I NEVER thought you were less intelligent or inferior. on the contrary, I was jealous of your artistic talent (why else would I show you everything? ask your opinions and take it just as seriously, often more so than Mr. Pelletier or others?) Perhaps you didn't feel it. I didn't like to show my emptiness other than to say things like "I can't draw" or "my poetry sucks." Things many people say and don't mean or care about. destroy any feelings you might have or might have had about me thinking you were nothing. I denied my feelings and all you got were the coated false ones, only occasionally did I let them slip out.
My problem now is the past. I cannot forget it. How can I forget everything that has already been said. To start over would mean complete discomfort for a long time & the memories cannot be deleted. I would feel like Cassandra looking back on Troy. I cannot make the past disappear. do I say "hi, how was class? What's our homework for tonight?" I cannot imagine long philosophical/religious discussions, sharing secrets, enjoying complete unbridled laughter. There's a tint of something. something powerful overshadowing everything. I wish it could be destroyed, obliterated. But perhaps it has to remain. It can either eat away at me or make me stronger. Probably the former. Oh well.
P.S. I didn't cry b/c my sister was there the 1st time & Wendy & Heather were half talking to me the 2nd
I needed to maintain my own self control otherwise I would have no hope left at all
Now come up to me and say "Thanks for depressing me. You're such a great friend." Ha Ha.
February 9, 1994. 1:26:39 PM.
It is a gift to be chosen for the worthy. If a person breaks over the craziness of whatever else exists, then it would last over the intricate openings of friendship. Increasing that little balance breaks, shatters the trusting exchange of pointless musings structured over bitterness. The facilitation of a destructive extreme challenges bonds created from a deliberate and delicate clash of philosophies. Potential struggles between powers eat the decaying ruins . . . .
"stupid, stupid rain."
(This was partially spontaneous, partially conscious. It contains my thoughts. I am crazy? but so what?)
Life Trust Honesty Deceit Uncertainty Death.
Cindy hates that name eats it like her decayed flesh swallows it whole screams "I am here" "look at me" defies conformity rejects normality
Cindy I hate that name I eat it with her scream "I am here" "too"
I take her hand "look at us"
[That argument did not kill us; we got better and I carried that last poem around in my wallet with me for years.]