Freshman year of college was a year of great changes for me. Being away from my parents for the first time, ending a four-year relationship, gaining new friends and living life on my own terms. It was great. At the change of semesters, I met T. T was a year ahead of me and also an education student. She had even moved in to the room I had lived in the semester before. We hit it off right away. She was Catholic (as so many of my best friends were growing up), so it was fun to try to pull her out of her shell. She needed a lot of pulling; she wasn't very outgoing and had a very reserved nature. She NEVER discussed things like sex or bodily functions (two of my favorite subjects). Still, she understood the issues I was facing in my education better than anyone. We got new boyfriends around the same time and would double date and hang out quite frequently. She was always starting a new hobby - tennis, knitting, going to the gym. She was great about letting me tag along and become involved, too. Her parents came to visit her on campus and I even fell in love with them. They obviously loved her and each other - something my own home was seriously lacking. I used to ask them when they would adopt me so I could be their child, too. The more I got to know T, the closer I wanted to get. She was me, 2.0: she had the life I would have had if I'd had wealthy, loving parents like she had. She graduated with no debt (parents paid for college), got a new car shortly after, and after breaking up with her boyfriend, got her own place to live. She was teaching and taking grad classes. Life for her was perfect. I wanted mine to be perfect, too.
Because it wasn't. My boyfriend didn't work after the first year of our relationship. My last year I was working two jobs, student teaching and taking a class so that I could graduate on time. I'd been driving the same crappy Ford Escort Wagon for years (I HATED that car) and couldn't see a time that I'd ever have everything like T did. I racked up thousands of dollars on my credit cards paying for groceries, car repairs, and gas. I held T up as the goal. Her life was what I would have. Someday.
Looking back, it was clear to me that there were some problems in our friendship, though. For one, she could not understand my money issues. Never having had them herself, she had no idea how debt can absolutely crush your spirit. She didn't understand how I could stay with my boyfriend who was giving me so much trouble and so little help (he wasn't even on disability or unemployment - he lived off me entirely). I could never make her see that I couldn't leave him just because he was sick. He had a chronic prostate condition that left him in excruciating pain all day long. I felt that leaving would be selfish. I couldn't do it.
The biggest problem in our friendship, though, was how bottled up she was. If I did something that bothered her, she never said anything. She'd let it stew silently until she couldn't take it any more and would explode all over the place. I get very frustrated by people that do this. Just tell me what's wrong so I can fix it. If you don't tell me, I'm not going to kiss your ass just because I think I might have done something wrong. My parents raised me to "shit or get off the pot". It was what I wanted her to do. She'd been raised differently.
Still, we got through a lot of tough times together especially in our line of work. When my first teaching job chose not to renew my contract, I was devastated. I cried all the way home, and she was the only person I wanted to talk to. I knew she'd make me feel better. And she did... much better than my boyfriend did.
Then one summer she got a teaching job in the southern part of the state. It meant moving more than two hours away. She wanted to move back to where she was from; closer to her family and friends she'd had growing up. I was heartbroken. She thought she was moving to something better; all I knew was that she was moving away from me. And I couldn't follow her - my boyfriend, who I was living with/taking care of didn't want to move down south, and honestly I couldn't afford to move anyway. I was absolutely broke.
And that was truly what I had the biggest issue with T about. She never understood what it was like to want something with all of your being, and be denied it, again and again. T always got everything she wanted; I'd been denied thing my whole life. I resented her for it. It just wasn't fair that she could sail through life so easily and I'd had to fight so hard. I'm sorry to say that I took my resentment out on her at times, got angry with her and wasn't as happy with her successes as a friend should have been. I still wanted to be her, still held her life as my goal. But at times (like when she got pulled over for speeding in her new car), I'd be happy her life wasn't completely perfect.
I should have known that things between us were about to go from bad to worse.
(tomorrow: part two)