Once upon a time in a tiny town not too far away there was a girl named Taylor (me) that started her first day of Kindergarten at what seemed to be the smallest school in America. Even though this school only had approximately 60 students in each grade, it was not a private school like some would think. When I say it was not a private school, I mean in no aspect did anyone have a lick of privacy. Growing up with the same group of people for 11 years, it was hard not to know each other’s first and last name, who their parents were and most likely where they lived. We were a close-knit community with the local high school as the eye of the storm when it came to gossip.
The word on the street spread around my school quicker than Jimmy John’s delivery, which according to the sandwich company is “freaky fast”. I found it ridiculous that one of my moderately close friends informed me that my 16 year old cousin was 5 months pregnant. Why hadn’t my own family told me the news?
“Yup, heard she is having twins. Not sure who the baby daddy is.”
*gets on facebook* Sure enough there she was with her small round belly out for all to see. Somewhere along the grape vine the word “twins” was thrown into the mix. I’m not sure if this was intended to make the story more exciting or just a misunderstanding. One baby was on the way and it seemed everyone knew before the family. But I guess that is typical in a town like mine. Because it was so miniscule it was easy to make friends in school, and enemies for that matter, and keep them until you finally graduated High School.
In my case I met my best friend in Kindergarten and we remained the “two best friends that anyone could have” (Zac Galifianakis voice) until 11th grade. If asked, anyone could tell you that we had a very dysfunctional relationship. As Elementary students we were inseparable. When school was not in session, we spent week long sleepovers together at my house until my parents got sick of us and made us switch locations. During the school year we debated for hours about where we would go afterwards, depending on what exciting activity we had negotiated on for that day. In 3rd grade she convinced me to slice my finger with a razor blade after she did hers and we mixed our wounded flesh together before stamping it on a scrap book page. We were now official “blood-sisters”. I kept it a secret from my mom for months because I was so afraid she would scold me for doing something so unsanitary.
My ex-best friend was a lot of things but “nice” was not the most popular word to describe her. She was that friend who would beg you to tickle her back at night while you were both cuddled up next to each other. “I promise just for 5 minutes I will do yours right after”, she pleaded in her sweet girl voice. It never failed that she fell asleep before it was my turn. She was self-centered, inappropriate; conniving and had an awful reputation by the time she was in middle school. Not many days went by that we were not together which made it so difficult when our friendship started to dwindle away my junior year of High School. By this time though, we fought like an old married couple. She acted like a bitch and I forgave her after 2 days of giving and receiving the cold shoulder. Somehow we always made up.
After her alcoholic mother and pot dealing father smothered for as many years as I can remember, she began to rebel. Self-regulation was never an option for her which caused her to always choose the wrong way out. Similar to the way our friendships via Facebook and Instagram can come and go friendships in reality can also fade away.
Once her relationship status changed from “single and ready to mingle” to “In a relationship with a stoner” she became much more interested in Independence, KY and Hallucinogens than her old High School friends. After 4 long years that excruciating relationship ended. Once we finally graduated she went North and I went South which was probably for the best. She could get a fresh new start in college now that she was single again and pull her life back together. Needless to say, she got another dope head boyfriend and spun into a hazy and colorful downward spiral. They both got kicked out of college for violence in the dorms and moved in together while they worked at a small Bistro in Bellevue. The most information I got about her was from her social media accounts. As I would scan her Instagram or Facebook photos to check on her well-being I often came across her and her new boyfriend smoking weed and looking as high as a kite flying in the dirty Bellevue air. If you scan her photos down the timeline you can see how she turned from a Varsity cheerleader into a vegetarian Bob Marley wanna-be in less than 3 years.
Her persona switched very quickly in a matter of time similar to the way Jenny in the movie “Forest Gump” tries to find happiness by exploring the many options of life, my High School friend demonstrated the same behavior. Jenny didn’t know right from wrong or love from lust or where her purpose in life was. Stripper, drug abuser, hippie are all phases Jenny went through to finally find peace with herself. In hopefulness that this happens to my nameless friend, we will refer to her as Jenny. Yes, Jenny is perfect.
At first I was shocked by the pictures I saw on Jenny’s social networking sites but eventually grew accustomed to them. Truthfully, I am more shocked that she continued to play a part in social networking; I was certain that was too “mainstream” for her. Not only did she participate in Instagram and Facebook, she tried to make a statement about herself in doing so. Her uploads evolved into distasteful appearances of her and a few freshly graduated 18 year old girls raving at clubs with dilated pupils captioned by the hash tags #MollyWhopped or #Trippy. My mouth literally dropped open when I laid eyes on the photo of them dropping acid. The sad part is that these girls have looked up to Jenny throughout High School. This was never their lifestyle choice; they just thought it was cool because Jenny was their unusual idol. She took a step in the wrong direction and they followed in her footsteps. Seeing them all four with their tongues stuck out long and proud with that little white square in the middle was the last picture I had any interest of viewing on her page. This was not how I wanted to imagine her in my occasional reminiscences. I could not let it slide this time. Not when she is too smart to know not to publicize something so inappropriate. I held my fingers over the keys and questioned what I should say. I took them off the keys, picked up my phone and typed out a short message addressed to Jenny. I proceeded to erase each syllable in the reverse order it was entered and placed my hands back onto the black keyboard. What could I say that I hadn’t already said that could make a difference? What could I do for someone who was as stubborn as a tree root planted in her own garden of ecstasy. There was nothing. I couldn’t make anything appear on the screen before me that would make a miraculous transformation in her life. To clear my own conscience I had to make it obvious that as a person who was once so important to her, I believed it was very wrong and needed to be removed. “What the hell?” I exclaimed through my computer monitor. Not being one for this type of confrontation, I think everyone read this comment in the appalled voice that I aimed for. I sat back and examined my work. Yes, that would get the point across. I took an iPhone photo of my computer screen and sent the picture to my best friend Erika who had also shared a close relationship with Jenny. We discussed what we could do to help her, along with some other negative yet passionate words. She was as taken aback as I was.
Erika: “OMG, I cannot believe she would post that. She needs help. It makes me sad that she won’t try and change.”
Me: “Her mom has an Instagram! I can’t believe she would put her in that situation. If she keeps this up she is going to end up dead or in jail. What can we do? Should I say anything else?”
Erika: “She has already relapsed once, I’m not sure there is anything else you can do.”
Me: “L I guess so. I never would have guessed she would be at this point at such a young age. I haven’t heard from her, she never responds to my texts. Hope she is doing ok! Let me know if you hear from her.”
Erika: “She doesn’t respond to anyone as far as I know. I will let you know. TTYL”
Within 24 hours the picture was removed and never discussed again. I rarely see or hear from Jenny but each time I do it is a relief to me that she is still alive. Heroin has been a popular drug in my small town for a while. Many easily influenced people I know have been effected by the struggle and or death caused by this contagion. Rumor has it that if you try it once, you will be addicted and the battle will haunt you for the rest of your life. Why anyone that is aware of this would inject the poison filled needle into their fragile body is a mystery to me. I realize now that I have been very naïve of her bad choices throughout our lives. If someone will not accept the help and advice that you offer to them, there is nothing more to do other than wait for them to decide they are ready to make the change. Is Jenny too far gone? I know she is capable to one day step down from that ledge and turn her life around. Resembling how it has in the past, Facebook or Instagram may demonstrate a change in her life and this time, the change will hopefully be for the better.