When I was 13, I committed the requisite teen errors in judgment such as the time I decided to show off the new dance move I learned from MTV’s The Grind which in retrospect, should have been called, “The Slutty Limbo.”
My best friend J. and I decided to push a lit cigarette into our ankles until it was extinguished. If Anne Shirley had smoked in the girl’s bathroom, I’m sure she would have done the same with Diana. J. called this a “remembrance,” a way to memorialize how we loved and cared for each other by leaving a circled-scar on our skin.
You can barely see it now. It’s faded into the rest of my body, and unless I point to you and give you the background that I wasn’t very smart in seventh grade and this flesh groove is why, you wouldn’t know it’s there.
J. and I moved to different to schools and rarely saw each other. The last time we spoke was at church, when she spent the majority of the mass saying, “My GOD Mona, you have become so fat. And I am so skinny.” I wish there was nicer way to recap that reunion, but that is what she said. And even though it was true, I had gained weight and she remained in her 25″ jeans, I was deflated.
I saw her only once more after that Sunday. My mother was driving past the church and I could see J., only this time, her slender face had bloated, her belly protruding through her paisley dress. We were 16. She was having her first child.
This weekend I attended a party and found out that J. was in Washington. She had two more children. My heart started beating nervously. I knew that she was a mother, but now I was, too. My mind rifled through the times she and I had written bad love poetry about boys who wronged us, how she introduced me to my first boyfriend and of course of the cigarette scar, now hidden by my pant leg.
When J. stepped into the room, I searched her face for some look of welcome, of surprise. She said hi to the room, and my mother and aunt said, “Hey remember Mona! You two were friends!” She looked at me and nodded with the enthusiasm of a comatose patient. She gave me a one-arm hug then shepherded her brood in front of the TV where she only looked up from the Lion King flickering on the screen to answer my question as to how long she’d been in Washington.
“February.” Four syllables. No return question.
And this is how I always set myself up for heartache, how my attempt to connect with other mothers chronically fails. But this was not Starbucks, and I wasn’t trying to bond with someone over our mirrored orders of tall vanilla lattes.
I’ve considered the birth of my child as a transforming experience, one that has forced me to redefine my world perspective and view of myself. It has fueled my need to connect with other mothers, other women who know the pangs and pleasure of children. And when J. didn’t say anything else to me despite my forced attempts at pleasantries, I sighed. Maybe her account of our friendship is different, more pained or pointless. I tucked our relationship neatly into a file called, “Memories Mona Should Just Keep In 1996.”
If we ever see each other, my dear internet friend, would you please say something more than hello? I would appreciate it.