by Hazel Pino

High school can be a really hard and tough place. Especially if you’re not pretty or smart or popular. Especially if you were always seen as the “little sister” the “band geek” or “the skinny chick”.

From the minute high school started there was a boy who picked on me.

J: Hey, what grade did you get?Me: C+
J: I got an A. That means I’m better than you.
Me: *thinking* Who the heck is he again?

Didn’t really help this kid was in two of my classes that quarter. Or that I looked forward to him teasing me every single day. Some days he did, some days he didn’t. Sometimes it seemed like he was just being downright mean other times it seemed like he was flirting. But he wasn’t cute. I mean he was in a little annoying brother sort of way but he wasn’t cute as in I’d crush on him cute. Even though I would never admit it until years later — I was crushing on him.

And so for the better half of our childhood, that was what our friendship was like. J telling me I sucked and how much better at stuff he was than me. Some days I didn’t understand it, most days I anticipated it.

Everything changed when we came back to school junior year. My buddy? He looked different. Not like a kid anymore. Definitely not like a kid anymore. He still had that same goofy smile and that sarcastic sense of humor I was finally starting getting use to but he was… different. And he looked at me and treated me different too.

He would walk me to class, he would ask if anything was wrong if I looked troubled, he would listen to my problems. He cared. He looked at me like he cared, really cared about me. Like he would stand in anyones way who dare hurt me. And it was strange and different and it was unspoken between us. But we ended up being really close that year. He would rescue me from breakups and take me to the arcade to just hang out in his car until I was ready to go home and talk. He would call me just to say hi, even though we saw each other at school. He would actually call when he said he would. He would invite me to hang out on the weekends either with mutual friends or just by ourselves. He would come over and we’d play video games. He was always hugging me or offering his hoodie pockets for me when I would get cold. He was always cracking sarcastic jokes with me to cheer me up.

He was my superman, always rescuing me.

But then he got into a serious relationship and our friendship drifted. Every time they would break up he would come back around. Until the last time.

The last time we hung out he was just… mean. It was for my birthday dinner. Him and another one of our mutual friends. At this point we were old enough to drink and so they did almost every time we all hung out and they would rag on me since I don’t like drinking. Talk about boring I am since I don’t drink and he was just making it clear that all he ever thought of me was a friend and I didn’t get why since no one brought it up and at the time I had a pretty serious boyfriend. That he didn’t really like. And that didn’t really like him.

And it just hurt. It shouldn’t had since alla that was in the past and it didn’t matter now what was said or done but I think he was guarding himself. People use to say that the way he looked at me, the way they caught him looking at me was something else but he swears to everyone I’ve always just been a friend. That’s it, he’s only seen me as a friend. And okay, fine. Whatever.

Maybe I was never pretty enough or smart enough for him. Maybe I was too skinny or too emotional. But whatever it is, that high school friendship? Is something I’ll always cherish and something I’ll always miss.

Letting go of really great friendships is always the hardest part of growing up.