I was recently lucky enough to find Kenzie via her GREAT blog This, On Purpose (or she found me, it doesn’t matter). What matters is that I love what she writes and we share a love of horror films and pop culture in particular.
Based on this, and the fact she’s a very cool girl, it was a no-brainer to ask Kenzie to be involved in the She’s All That series. Go check her out on her blog forthwith!
Christa, the lovely creative behind A Voluptuous Mind, has graciously invited me to guest blog here. I’ll readily admit I’ve had one premise in mind for it as it’s kicked me hard over the past couple of months, so I thank Christa for giving me an alternate outlet for it.
There are no greater friendships than the ones that press on.
At 43, I ought to know this by now. At 43, I still sometimes have trouble.
“Ghosting” is a strangely appropriate slang term often reserved for when one is dating. One is left in the lurch, completely disconnected of all communication from the other. It’s an invisible-man sort of phasing out of existence, a shitty passive-aggressive “good bye” consisting of no return calls, no return emails, no return texts. Nothing.
Frankly, I think the term is too limiting in its definition because “ghosting”, such as it is, occurs amongst friends as well.
I was eleven when I first experienced ghosting from a friend. There was this girl gang, a clowder of cats with feathered hair and pastel-neon colored clothes. Eleven, and I was too earnest. I didn’t understand “mean” coming from girls my age whatsoever. “Mean” belonged at home with angry family members. “Mean” came from schoolboys confused about the changes happening, the wolves coming out to hunt. Susan led the girl gang, the clowder. Susan with her glinty eyes edged with bright blue ice queen liner.
Susan didn’t like me much. Maybe it was my naturally curly hair that hadn’t been frizz-permed into a sticky Aqua Net mold. Maybe it was my pale skin that couldn’t turn golden in the sun. Instead, it went all strawberry and wetly peeled. Maybe it was my temperament, the fact I cried about anything because I didn’t understand.
Or maybe it was because I had something Susan wanted: my best friend, Holly.
Holly and I had shared much and had been through even more together. We were also survivors, sisters-in-arms, having been stalked and tormented by a nasty trio of teenaged boys with their jagged leers and switchblades. We were inseparable; we were true.
Then one day, Holly shut it off, she shut it all off. We’d no cell phones in the ’80s, but we didn’t need them. In middle school, back then, we were all about passing notes and recording, whispering secrets and communing. One day, Holly simply disconnected me by ignoring everything I said, everything I did, anything I could do to get her attention. All I saw of her in those weeks after was the view of her rigid back coupled with the occasional sidelong glare and eye roll.
It was Susan, of course, the one responsible for Holly’s ghosting of me. Susan would say something that scratched and left marks, often something scathing (and utterly unoriginal) about my appearance, and Holly, standing there, finally in the midst of the clowder, would laugh as it was expected of her, glancing every so often at Susan for approval. Even still, Holly didn’t look at me when she joined in the taunts and jeers.
In middle school, cats like Susan would inevitably get tossed in the water, left to fend for themselves. It took both time and a horribly embarrassing situation for Holly to reappear in my world. I was several weeks into my Susan-concocted invisibility when my first period (yes, that) hit me while I was on the school bus on the way back home. I was sitting in the back, well away from Holly and her siblings. They all sat in the front of the bus, her siblings acting as a barricade in case I tried to come up to talk to her.
It was always a long ride after an arduous day at school. We had a bus driver who made it clear to everyone on board, every day, that he hated kids. He also had a habit of pulling over to the side of the highway to take a piss right there, out in the open, in front of the world and its children. Anyway, the bus driver regularly screamed all sorts of colorful obscenities if any of us attempted to shift into another seat, so I quietly stayed put in my misery, thanking the gods of frumpy clothing for the long, baggy windbreaker I had on that day. I don’t know if it was an act of blatant stupidity on my part, but I was so desperate for a friend who would sympathize about the torment I was going through. So I did what any other eleven year-old girl would do in such a predicament: I sent Holly a note from my place at the back of the bus, one of those meticulously folded things that would’ve taken a Rubik’s Cube expert to unravel.
I’d taken a risk, of course. The bus was dotted with kids who’d be more than likely to attempt to unfold my note and read it aloud to anyone even half-listening. Luckily, everybody on the bus then was much more engrossed in the thrash metal music one of the 8th graders insisted the bus driver play on the way home (he didn’t like the 8th graders either, but if it got everyone to shut the hell up, so much the better). I watched her from the back as Holly carefully unfolded the note and read it, her lips moving as she took in every word I’d written. When she’d finished, she carefully folded the note and stowed it deep in a backpack pocket. Her gaze was steady towards the front. She seemed deep in contemplation rather than apathetic, which was a good sign. After a minute, she shifted in her seat, facing the aisle and rear of the bus, her eyes locking with mine. She nodded at me and held up a finger for me to wait. Then she glanced over at the bus driver, who was focused on both the road and the cassette that was suddenly being eaten whole by the cassette player.
Holly quickly slung her backpack over her shoulder and, head down, scurried to the back of the bus. When she finally reached me, she plopped herself down right beside me, and I knew right then the ghosting barricade had been lifted, especially when she leaned against me and whispered, “Does it hurt?”
“Not anymore,” I said. We grimaced at each other, at the very thought of womanhood, so gross. Just as the bus driver caught on to what had happened and yelled at Holly for having moved, we started giggling like mad.
Our bond reinstated, we dealt with all the Susans, all the unlucky circumstances, all the mishaps and dangers that come with the cusp of teenaged life. We remained friends until our families relocated due to military obligations.
It was like that then, far easier to forgive at eleven years old.
I’d not really been affected by “ghosting” from adult friends until the past several years or so. One good friend in particular quite recently decided it best to cut me off for some inexplicable reason, to “ghost” me, if you will—this, even after we’d talked a lot about just how shitty the act of “ghosting” was. (Yeah, I like my betrayal served with a hefty side of hypocrisy. Who doesn’t?)
Adult friends recognize that ghosting is not polite, it’s not civil. Adults are meant to talk to each other. If there was a problem, drinks and conversation ought to do the trick. It’s the kind of talk that lasts well into the evening when the sky is a bruised, brushed curtain and time has grown meaningless. There’d be some tears shed, some egos deflated, if only for a moment. Nevertheless, it’s a time when hats are off, but no one goes home without answers because that would simply defeat the purpose.
There are some adults around though who’d prefer not to face their problems with another, head on, and I don’t understand it at all. It’s almost as if they believe that by cutting off someone else, they’re doing that particular so-called friend a favor. After all, what kind of person in her/his right mind enjoys confrontation?
Hell, I call cowardice on the matter.
So I end this with a(n unsolicited) warning for those friends, good friends, better friends, and best friends out there, particularly those grownups who are on the cusp of ending it outright without informing the other about it:
If so inclined to keep things mum, be well aware that friendship’s done. An attempt to rekindle that friendship true will undoubtedly be greeted with a fitting ‘Fuck you.’