This month the From Left to Write Book Club is reading and writing about The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson. I eagerly awaited the arrival of the book because the story sounded so JUICY! Then I realized I had to write a post inspired by this very juicy story… I decided that I wasn’t going to write a post about some long lost love that I think about on a daily basis. I decided that I didn’t need the embarrassment, for me, my husband or that guy (and you’ll never know if there really is one or not… wink wink…) In some ways, Ms. Dawson’s story reminds me of another relationship that I wonder about, so here goes…
Have you ever wondered if you could go back in time and change one little thing if it would make any difference in the life you live today? I have. Over the course of the last few years, I’ve come to realize that in high school I was so wrapped up in the things going on in my life that I failed to notice or participate the things going on in my friends’ lives. In other words, I was self-centered, very self-centered. If it didn’t involve me and a boy, I wasn’t paying attention. It was my self-centeredness that I believe led me to lose what I once thought was a pretty important friendship in my life.
I can’t remember if it was the fourth grade or the sixth grade that she moved here, but towards the end of my grammar school years, a new girl came to my school. We’ll call her Ramesh. She was shy, tall and skinny with glasses and braces and long glossy jet black hair that was almost ALWAYS pulled back in a braid down her back. We became fast friends and she was quickly incorporated into our little group of friends.
By junior high we were the best of friends. She was so cool. She had the greatest taste in music, and was an outstanding artist and writer. We spent almost every day together during the summers, when she wasn’t off visiting family in London or India. We joined clubs after school together, we’d go to each others houses and just hang out and listen to music and talk about boys, school and well… that was really it. One of my fondest memories was of the time her family took me and two other friends to a special Indian dance where we got to wear saris and learn traditional Indian dances. I still have the pictures, but I won’t embarrass anyone by posting them here.
Suddenly I found myself old enough to date. In came the boyfriends, out went the real friends. Ramesh was so pissed with me because whenever there was a man in my life, she took a back seat. And when those relationships were over, I’d come back and try to pick up where I left off.
High school was a blur… Boys, music, writing, more boys, plays, dance… it all blended together and somewhere in there, Ramesh made new friends. Friends that had more in common with her than I did. Friends that wouldn’t drop her like a hot potato the minute a boy showed them some attention. Friends that wore black clothes and black eyeliner and I don’t know whatever she liked better about them than me. We did the plays together, she worked behind the scenes while I was on the stage. (Sound familiar?) We drove to school together every morning, carpooling when I refused to take the bus junior and senior year.
She was with me during a most horrific fight with an abusive ex. Where this jerk and I screamed at each other on the street and she just kept walking, not wanting to get involved.
I met my husband when I was in high school. He was my senior year man. Ramesh and I had dreams of college and careers. She got into her first choice, Fordham. I didn’t. I got into my second choice, Emerson in Boston, and my third choice Hofstra. I decided upon Hofstra where I could commute to and from school and I didn’t have to live on campus. I wasn’t ready to leave home yet or my boyfriend.
We communicated mostly through that new fangled thing called email during our college years. Her parents moved to a different town. She found herself in college. I lost her.
It wasn’t all bad. I lost quite a few people during my college years. I found some new ones, and some old ones made their way back. My very best friend being one of those that I lost and found again, we’re still friends to this day.
So, to make a long story even longer, I found Ramesh on Facebook about a year ago. We reconnected. I was so happy! I found out she was married to the guy she brought to my wedding. (She was supposed to be IN my wedding party, but I asked her to step down because we had drifted so far apart.) I found out she was a graphic artist with Lehman Brothers (she later got laid off during THAT whole fiasco). I found out her dad passed away, though I didn’t hear it from her. And I felt old looking at pictures of her little brother who wasn’t so little anymore.
Then, one day, I notice that the number of friends we had in common was dwindling. Finally, a few weeks later, she’s not on my friend list anymore.
I was devastated.
Angry, hurt and upset.
My Facebook status said something about removing the “un-necessaries” and if you can still read this you’re lucky.
I went through my friend list and removed people I barely knew, people I friend-ed just to up my numbers in Mafia Wars or Vampire Wars or something.
I cried to Eileen and my mom about it. (She did the same thing to Eileen too and quite a few other friends.) I was genuinely hurt and dismayed. Why would she just drop me like that??
Then I realized… it was because I had done it to her all those years ago, over and over again. I wasn’t a part of her life anymore and she didn’t want me around, not even on Facebook.
So here I find myself, wondering What if? What if I had paid more attention in high school to my friends? Would I have noticed that Ramesh and another friend had a huge fight over a particular very artistic boy? Would I have known that she was in NYC on September 11th and had run for her life? Would I have been able to attend whatever funeral services her religion allotted for her father? Would she have met my kids? Would I meet hers someday?
I think about her often. I wonder how she is and what she’s doing. I sometimes search for her on Facebook although I think she’s either blocked me or changed something that I can’t find her. Last time I thought I saw a sonogram as her profile pic. But who knows cause I don’t pay very much attention.
I think I’ve decided that maybe she wasn’t meant to be in life anymore. I’ve read all the self help books, I know that things happen for a reason, and people come into and out of your life for a reason. Maybe all my What If’s are unnecessary. Maybe I should be thankful for the lesson she’s taught me. I need to slow down and pay attention to the things going on around me. I need to appreciate my friends and family more. And I need to be thankful for those in my life, past, present and future.
So what do I get for not paying attention?? A happy marriage, two beautiful kids, and meaningful friendships with people who really matter. How does that poem go? “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Thank you for being a part of my life, whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.”
This is an original ROSCMM post and was written for the From Left to Write Book Club. This post was inspired by The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson, a copy of which I received free from the publisher for the purposes of this book club, and no, you can not steal my content unless you specifically ask me for it first. It’s called copyright, yo.
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