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By Nina K. Guzman
I met her the first year I started attending a private school in south Florida known as much for its weekly drug busts and philandering teachers as it is for its academics and high SAT scores.
Our friendship grew alongside our total disgust to the everyday politics of a prep school that applauded students with eating disorders and drug problems as long as they snagged the most prestigious awards to brag about in their weekly newsletter.
While our classmates went to rehab, we would talk about our favorite "Gilmore Girls" episode. We would daydream about a life outside the fake brick walls of our school, far away where the south Florida humidity could not reach our new and fabulous lives that would have nothing to do with the sunshine state.
While we were good friends (she even vacationed with my family), we both had our different groups in high school (her friend’s parents owned a pet store dynasty, while my friends were the ones that skipped class) and I considered my other friends to be closer (all that skipping really bonds people together).
After graduation, we both found ourselves attending a nice, albeit mediocre, state college and it was there where our true friendship flourished. I’m not sure if it was the lack of pseudo cotton uniforms, or being in a town with only one Pollo Tropical, but something about that first year of college bonded us.
Though we were still stuck in Florida, we were in a place that was new and fresh (even if the walls were still brick). This was our brand new start away from high school drama, and we wanted to spend every second of it together.
It started off by going out to eat maybe once every couple of days, and then a night on the weekend to go to a club or hang out with friends. Nights grew later with late-night runs to Taco Bell before hanging out in her dorm watching reruns of "Hannah Montana" while sharing our pet peeves, our crushes, and our deepest secrets.
Having lunch together became our daily routine, along with our constant texting. I realized I looked forward to the car rides over to parties singing along to Rihanna and Britney Spears, when it was just the two of us, instead of the parties themselves.
I had found a connection with someone I can only compare to that of a sister -- no not just a sister, a twin, with our chromosomes parting into two human beings and sharing the same womb, the same heart.
Our inside jokes grew into our own language that made the rest of our friends uncomfortable. We both lost our virginities around the same time, which created this strange connection we didn’t have with the rest of our “virginal” friends. We joked that we didn’t have time to have relationships with guys because we were too busy dating each other.
We saw the boys that we were with as more like conquests; double dog dares to laugh about afterwards. Our routine was that I would go and hook up with some guy I was seeing, then afterward I would come over to her dorm and she’d ask for all the gory details. No detail was too gruesome or too weird to leave out.
Even though I see how sick it is now, those are the nights I miss most. Just the two of us, snuggling in her bed talking about how gross guys are and talking about next year when we’d dump our stinky dorms and move into an apartment together. It was not until much later that I realized I was falling for her.
By the beginning of second semester, our friendship began to take a dark turn. We began to exclude our other friends from our lives.
Our sassy attitudes and sharp quips, which were once part of our charm, grew snarky and outright mean. We said terrible things about our other friends, and we even went as far as lying to them so we wouldn’t have to hang out or just ignore them all together.
But even our friendship didn’t make me susceptible to these mean remarks. She made me feel terrible for being with guys or going to parties without her.
Suddenly, I had to start acting a certain way if I wanted to circumvent her anger. But no matter what I did, she would always find something wrong with me.
One moment she’d be begging me to tell her about the staying over at some guys place, and the next she’d be chastising me for being too easy. As much as I wanted to confront her about this, I couldn’t, because I thought I would lose her. I suddenly realized I needed her like I needed oxygen.
All of a sudden, I had fallen in love with my best friend and I didn’t know what to do. Though I loved being around her, I hated the person I was becoming.
Even after all the snarky remarks and rude comments, I still didn’t see it coming. It was now the last few weeks of our freshman year and we were having our usual lunch get-together at our school’s union.
We both ordered Tropichops, mine had chicken while she ate the vegetarian version. I hadn’t yet finished mixing my rice and beans with the mustard curry when she began shouting; she began calling me a “slut” and “whore,” and stating that she felt uncomfortable with my “destructive behavior.”
She said that because I suffered from low self-esteem, I was seeking validation through sex. I believe the words she used were “spiraling out of control.” She made it sound like I was picking up random guys at the club and having unprotected sex with them, which could be nothing farther from the truth.
And as far as spiraling out of control, I only pretended to have a pregnancy scare so she wouldn’t feel so bad about hers. She even said that from the way I was acting, “I deserved to get raped.” She said she felt sorry for me, and that I should see a therapist.
Her rant ended with, “Don’t come to me when you get raped, because all you’re going to get is an ‘I told you so’ and a ‘fuck you.’”
I was so stunned, I couldn’t respond. I just sat there staring at my cold rice, trying to hold back tears. I couldn’t even defend myself, and the thing was, I didn’t even know how to.
This was my best friend; I loved her. How could someone you love treat you so terribly? This couldn’t be happening; she was surely just having a bad day.
I hung out with her for the rest of the day as if her screaming session didn’t happen. I convinced myself it didn’t happen. But when I got back into my dorm room, I couldn’t hide from what I was becoming any longer.
I was isolated from the rest of my friends after treating them so badly, so I had no one to talk to. After going a whole year with someone permanently attached at my hip, I realized I was alone. Not only did my friends hate me, I hated myself.
From that evening on, I refused to answer any of her texts or calls, I blocked her on Facebook and I ignored her while walking around campus. I sent her a Facebook message stating how hurt I was, seeing her turn on me so quickly when I never would have done that to her.
I couldn’t bring myself to forgive her for the longest time because I was afraid I might get sucked in again. I had to figure out my feelings and figure out what they meant, spending the whole summer cut off from everyone, before I rejoined society that following semester. Not only did I have to figure out how to forgive her, I had to learn how to fall out of love with her.
It’s been two years since I have talked to her, but I have finally found it in me to forgive her. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss her.
Even after all the verbal and psychological abuse, part of me still remembers our car singing sessions and laughing at YouTube videos instead of doing our homework. And when I look back on my college experience, those are the moments I will remember.