"Don't believe your friends when they ask you to be honest with them. All they really want is to be maintained in the good opinion they have of themselves."
- Albert Camus
The next morning, we found ourselves sleeping in the same bed in her three bedroom apartment, my leg slung over her right hip as she faced away from me. Total comfort and mental exhaustion had crept right in and swept us into a blissful sleep.
We found ourselves in a routine. Mondays I would cook homemade meals - baked chicken, lasagna, hamburger egg rolls - and we would eat in silence at the dinner table, enjoying each other's company. The rest of the week was hit or miss dinner-wise. Sometimes it was takeout and movies until the wee hours of the morning, sometimes it was an expedition to little mom and pop restaurants and ordering everything on the menu because we simply couldn't decide.
We spent our days on the beach, soaking in the sun and initiating skin cancer. We spent our evenings hosting dinner parties, drinking wine and falling over drunk, laughing at our own stupidity. We drank coffee every night at midnight, extra sugar, extra cream. We smoked pot in the living room and laughed for no reason at all. We shopped in the same boutique at the mall every Saturday, spending money we couldn't afford on clothes we didn't need. She always seemed to con me into buying something I didn't feel comfortable wearing just to watch me squirm.
We danced horribly on the coffee table, in the car everywhere we went, and even in the shower, while one of us sat on the toilet lid, singing just as badly. We even held hands sometimes. It was an intimacy I don't think either one of us was ready for, but were both completely oblivious to it when it came.
We were spectacular, and everyone knew it. Their jealousy wasn't easily hidden, and we loved every second. We had what everyone always wants, what people need desperately - a friend. We had a true blue, over the moon, worthy of the world, attached-at-the-hip friendship.
When I turned eighteen, Angie didn't throw me a party. Instead, she called up a friend and procured an at-home tattoo party, sans the party guests. I got a cherry blossom on my lower belly where it could easily be hidden by a bathing suit, and she got a flower scroll tattooed around her ankle. True to form, Angie became a drama queen. She flinched and squeezed my hand tightly, as if my hand could take away the pain. I did the same, minus the dramatics. Although on more than one occasion, I felt lightheaded and had to stop for a moment until the nausea subsided. That's the way I handle my pain - my guts defy me and I feel like my whole body is going to reject the pain through my digestive tract.
An hour later, my mother called me.
"What do you want?" I spewed, "And how did you get this number?" My heart leapt, and I felt that feeling in the pit of my stomach when you know the rage is creeping in. All I remember is her saying something about damage. Damage I had caused, it was all my fault. Something about never coming around again, never harassing her again. Harassing her? When had I so much as given her a second thought? This was part of the reason I didn't talk to her. She was delusional.
"You really called just to say that? Well guess what? You didn't have to waste your precious fucking time to give me a call. You're a piece of shit. Don't ever call me again." And I hung up on her.
It would be the last conversation I would ever have with my mother.
For two days I cried over that phone call, and Angie never pressed me for information. She knew. And for two days, she didn't bother to wake me up early, to ask me to make dinner. We didn't go shopping or go to the beach. She handed me zanex and rubbed my hair until I drifted off to sleep. She wasn't big on words in this type of situation, so she did what she knew. She drugged me up and let me sleep. And after a few days I was okay. I loved her for that. I didn't have to explain myself. She had been there, done that, and talking about it would only take longer. She wanted me well, and well I got. After the depression had passed, I sat down and wrote my mother a letter. I never had any intention of ever sending it to her, and I never did.
I just wanted you to know that from this day forward you will never hurt me again. Not only because I refuse to accept your hateful letters or phone calls, but because from this day forward I will never think of you again. You won't even be a memory. You'll be a bad dream, not even a passing thought. You will never terrorize me again from this day until the day I die. I dance, mom. I dance every single day, no thanks to you. Your days of ruining me are over.
On the third day, Angie jumped into the bed with a fever, rustling the sheets and bouncing the mattress into the wall.
I could see light through the slit of my eye, and I didn't like what I saw. It was daytime, and that meant it was beach time.
"Here," she said, handing me a little orange pill shaped like a football. I swallowed it without water, without question. "Now we're going to the beach. So get up."
It turns out there was a thunderstorm that day, and our beach outing was cancelled. But my appetite had returned, so we went to a little seafood place down the street from our usual hangout and sat in the very last booth. Rachel was our waitress. Rachel's thighs rubbed together when she sauntered over to our table. Rachel had a thick southern accent and thin brown hair. She was fifty pounds overweight and sweaty. When she asked us what we wanted to drink, we both turned our noses up and left. We weren't worried that we would look vain or shallow. There was no debate about it, no conferring with the other about our decision. We simply left. And neither of us had to do any explaining.
"Oh God, she was fat" Angie said, the word fat sticking out of her mouth like something was too big to fit. Like it had disease. Angie had her own little personal demons, her own little paranoid things. But this was one we shared. I had always had a thing against fat people, like it was something you could prevent, something you could catch. Like AIDS.
Instead, we went to McDonald's and went straight through the drive-thru, eating in the parking lot on the hood of her honda. While we ate the food of fat people, we bad-mouthed them and talked about how we planned on preventing obesity ourselves. Certainly by not eating this shit, we said. By working out, by eating healthy. We won't be like that. We can not catch that thing.