I don’t remember when I first met her, but I do remember the feeling. The feeling when you are in awe and ignited by someone who is a bit of an enigma. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was going to alleviate much of my teenage angst. We were instantly friends, drawn to one another by a life in a city where we were not natives and the awareness that our bodies had betrayed us with a precocious puberty.
Having lived in the area a little longer than she, I already had friends, but I was increasingly disillusioned with the superficial relationships. There is something to be said for girls who have always known each other, the other girls may accept you, but, somehow, you are never one of them. Especially if your breasts and hips serve as a visceral reminder to teens and adults alike the sex your body advertises.
I remember her being as pretty as everyone said, I also remember her being fast talking, outspoken, and very quick with a middle finger. My kind of girl. One of the things that struck me the most was for such a charismatic and beautiful girl, how soft her core was. For every instance that she spoke up, there seemed to be one where she slinked back to a corner in the room unsure and very self-conscious. That always frustrated me, yet, that was our dynamic, her Brooklyn/Italian bravado acted as her cover, just as my charm and wit was mine.
She and I became as thick as thieves, the three year age difference had very little impact on our friendship. The boys that we ran with were more than willing to take us where we wanted to go, but more often than not we ran the show and they watched our misbehavior with affection and bewilderment. We both lived fast and hard, out all night, drinking, raising hell, and at the same time finding a certain solace in being the outsiders who found another.
We never fought over guys, clothes, makeup, rumors, things that typical teenage girls do. In fact, even though she looked like a young woman, she had the soul of an old Italian grandmother. Quick with a comforting hug, and an even quicker instinct to go motherbear on anyone who may harm her cubs. She always seemed to wrap me in a blanket of warmth and protection, even if that wasn’t her intention.
It was later that year that I left for my year long vacation in shangra la juvenile hall, and by then I had decided that my teenage shenanigans were over. Looking back, I realized one of the things I loved about being with her was during that time in my life I don’t think there was another person who made me feel less alone than she did. I should only be so lucky to find that kind of friend again in this lifetime.
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