I want to preface this by saying that female teenaged relationships are bloody weird. At least mine were.
In my freshman year of high school, and the summer that followed, all of my closets friends were recovering addicts.
As a teen, I gravitated to the hip, seemingly mature kids. At a school football game, I sneaked off to find a place to smoke a cigarette. At the back of the parking lot, I met a gal called Jane. She had that very cold, apathetic, detached thing happening. She was pale, tall and wore the most amazing thrift store finds. Essentially, she was everything I wanted to be - incredibly cool. I lit a cigarette for her, and we got to chatting. We became fast friends. In some ways, I suppose you could say that there were some rather homosexual overtones to our relationship. Jane and I have a complicated, stormy friendship. She was always a girl I wanted to be with, to be near. It wasn’t exactly sexual, but it was something. There were a couple other girls I had this kind of friendship with, but they’re a story for another time.
Jane had classic Irish beauty. Deep red hair, porcelain skin, and eyes so green that you just had to look into them. She was 5’9”, and maybe 110 pounds. She wore bowling shoes and mini skirts. She was a hipster before there was such a thing. Her look was always effortlessly perfect. Jane woke up looking like intellectual sex. I wanted to inhabit her. As best I tried, I could not duplicate her. Unfortunately, I was stuck being me.
Not long after we started hanging out, she introduced me to her circle of friends. Although she and went to the same high school, none of her friends went to our school. They were all people that she met at AA and NA meetings. This was a year before I started using drugs or having sex, so I was still surprisingly pure. Jane new a few girls who were my age, but who’d already hit bottom with drink and drugs, and we’re having sex with dudes. They came from well to do families as well, so I was able to use a little bit of their lifestyle. Part of my standard of living improved just by knowing them.
So, at the age of 14, I started regularly attending AA/NA meetings. This was spectacularly surreal. It was like being in a room half full of my father, if he’d ever gotten his shit together. The other half were young people, who we awfully badass, or so I thought.
There were a lot of older guys in these meetings. When I say older, I mean between 18-25. These guys were awesome, as they could drive us places and buy us cigarettes. The girls, Jane, Sarah and Lori (the big three), would “hook up” with these guys. Somehow, I managed to escape all of that. I was not unattractive, but definitely gave off what can best be described as a dykish vibe. I’ll put in a picture here for illustrative purposes.
The sober group and I spent our time in fairly typical teenaged ways. There was a lot of going out to nightclubs to dance. It’s rather funny really, as these joints were hotbeds of drink and drugs. In spite of that, there we were. The was Traxx, which had an outdoor volleyball pit, The Vault, an old bank that was mostly House music, but with a freaky big vault in the basement where they’d play jungle music, and The 5th Column, where I saw more cocaine than any other place in my life. We’d dance until 3 in the morning, then drive to the Denny’s at the corned of 123 and 29 in Fairfax. Those were truly great nights.
When we weren’t at the clubs, we would prowl the neighborhoods in one car or another, listening to what I still think is some of the best music. There was Dr. Dre’s The Chronic. We wore the tape out on that fucker. There was a lot of The Pixies, Fugazi, Henry Rollins (Sarah was smitten), The Ramones, The Smiths (Lori was obsessed), The Bauhaus, REM (my fave at the time), and a million other things I can’t remember. I still listen to them all. All except the Dr. Dre album. I don’t own that one. Go figure.
By time we’d gotten to my 15th birthday, which I spent with a guy called Andy (our regular driver), things were starting to fray. We seemed to be moving in different directions. I hadn’t really done any experimentation, and was dead sick of hearing their stories of woe. The time was right for me to try some things out, and make new friends. It wasn’t so much that we’d broken up, we just sorta fractured. We’d still talk from time to time, but things were changing.
I still saw Jane, as we were going to the same school. It wasn’t long after our sophomore year started, that we had an epic falling out.
One day, when Jane was home sick, I decided to skip school and visit her at home. She was only a mile or so from campus, so it was a quick walk. When I got to her house, I went to her bedroom window and peeked in. She was lying in bed reading. I could see her, but she couldn’t see me. I went to the front door and rang the bell. No answer. Then I went to her window and tapped. She didn’t even turn her head. I went into her back yard, and sat down for a smoke. I figured that maybe he was sleeping, and only appeared to be reading.
Midway through my cigarette, a police car turned up. They came right for me, knocked the cigarette from my hand, grabbed my school bag, rifled through it, and broke my remaining smokes. They told me that they’d be called out because I was harassing Miss [last name redacted]. I was stunned. I was put into cuffs, tossed into the back of the police car, and driven back to school.
The principal came out and the police released me. I hadn’t been under arrest, but they sure did scare the hell out of me. I imagine that was the point. The rest of the day was spent in the principal’s office. I was crying and incredibly confused.
When I got home, I rang Jane. Her mom answered and said that Jane didn’t wish to speak to me ever again. A week later, she was back at school. I confronted her in her Biology class. I asked her “what the fuck is going on?”. Jane said that I was trying to break into her house, that she was afraid, and that she had no choice. I told her that there was no sense or truth in what she was saying. I would never try to do something like that. She was my friend, why would I try to harm her?
I never got a clear answer. What I’ve decided, all these years later, is that she was simply sick of being my friend, and was looking for a creative out. She sure as hell found one.
Fortune smiled on us, as we never had a single class together. But I wasn’t done with her, not entirely. I built up a new group of friends, and we set about making Jane’s life hell at school. She was bullied very badly. Folks, including myself, would spit on her in the hallway. Every horrid word was said in anger at her. After what she had done to me, I was bound and determined to not let her have a moment of peace at George C. Marshall High School.
Our lives did later intertwine, when I was dating Stan (an ex-boyfriend of hers, by the by), and she was dating Stan’s cousin. Sometimes we were even in the same house at the same time. We managed to avoid seeing or speaking to one another. The whole thing was so strange.
Sometime during the summer of 1995, after all the boys were gone, and school was over for both of us (I quit, she graduated early), we had a brief reunion. I’d met up again with Sarah and Lori. They were adamant about getting Jane and I back together. It was arranged. We drove to Jane’s house, and saw each other, properly face to face for the first time in nearly 2 years. She and I hugged. Her hair smelled like gardenias. She and I apologized to each other. Everything was ok.
I only saw her one more time after that. On an afternoon about 2 weeks later, I drove over to see her. She was sitting on the curb, smoking a cigarette. I sat down with her and we chatted. An ice cream truck came by, and I bought us each a sunday. We sat, at our ice cream, and just enjoyed the moment. I think we both knew that this was as good as it would ever be. I never saw her again.