That is a picture of me and Amy during our senior year Homecoming dance. We look happy and winded, which makes me believe we--mere seconds before--had been rocking out to late 90s classics like No Diggity by Blackstreet or Peaches-n-Cream by 112. In fact, we'd probably been dancing for the last fifty straight minutes. We'd probably been locked in a circle of our friends in the middle of the dance floor. We'd probably been eyeing the circle of boys who were dancing next to us--the ones who were leaping from one foot to another and pounding their fists in the air to Let Me Clear My Throat (P.S.- The girl in that video is my hero).
Not much has really changed since that picture was taken--except for the fact that we are more attractive now, and boys have actually started to like us. Back then, no one was impressed by our strange brand of histrionics. No boys cared that we were expert Taboo players. No boys cared that we wanted to be backup singers. No boys cared that we could carry on a complete conversation in a code language only we understood. No boys cared that we could recite whole episodes of My So-Called Life. These were not desirable qualities in a girl back in high school. We did not possess any of the qualities that the boys we liked would want in a girlfriend. We did not let boys see us naked, we did not sneak away on school trips to make out with boys in places chaperones could not find us, we did not do anything that required us to borrow our parents' car and go to the local Rite Aid to buy pregnancy tests. We didn't smoke or do drugs. We didn't steal or act slutty. We just existed, and that wasn't very interesting to boys our age.
But that was okay because we had each other. Amy and I survived many a crisis together. We survived Math 2 and Math 3 with Ms. Bierfeldt, the scariest and most evil math teacher ever to exist, a woman who, on multiple occasions, told us she just didn't understand why we couldn't learn math, a woman who, on multiple occasions, asked us to go to the board simply because she knew we didn't know the answer and she wanted us to stand there, quiet and twitchy and uncomfortable, while she made an example of us. ("What is it Miss Schwab forgot to do in her proof, students? And Miss Smith? What simple rule did she forget, everyone?") We survived those two years with Ms. Bierfeldt only by spending some serious time plotting a small coup. We wanted to drive to her house and crack open her pumpkins at Halloween, uproot her plants in spring. We wanted to tear things down the way she tore us down. We'd never do those things, of course--again, we weren't very interesting--but we sure did take pleasure in thinking about those things. And getting mad at our friend Steph when she jumped to Ms. Bierfeldt's defense. "You guys!" she'd scold. "Ms. Bierfeldt is so nice! She's not a bad teacher!" Oh, how those moments killed us, so we'd just roll our eyes up to the ceiling and say, "Yeah, Steph, she's nice to you... because you're a evil math genius." And she was. Bitch.
Amy and I were also similar in the respects that we were not (and still are not) sporty. Most of our friends were sporty. They played basketball or volleyball or field hockey. Some even ran track. But me and Amy, we did nothing. The closest we got to sports was sneaking into basketball games to watch our favorite senior phenoms--especially that hot Australian exchange student who could dunk. In high school, we preferred to question why we were being forced to participate in disgusting co-ed games of Speed Ball--which the boys used as an opportunity to whip balls at girls as hard as they possibly could--and Mat Ball, where boys would stand on the sidelines and shout at us to RUN! RUN! RUN FASTER! Once, during soccer game, the fattest boy in our gym class stepped on my foot, leaving a dark skid mark across my sneaker. It hurt. It hurt a lot. For a whole minute. Still, I milked my injury and limped to the sideline, told our gym teacher I was seriously, seriously wounded, and then I climbed up into the bleachers to sit next to Amy and discuss the glories of Greg Manning's perfect, silken hair.
Has much changed since then? Not very much. We might have better hair and better fashion, but we're still the same two girls who bumbled through ridiculous relationships with boys that had us clawing for any kind of justification to stay with them. Once during Amy's fling with a boy she worked with she called me in a panic. She was trying to convince me that this guy was a good guy, that he was worth putting up with, despite all the things about him that made us nervous. "He has good qualities," she said. "I swear!" I asked her just what those good qualities were. I wanted a list. I wanted specifics. She was silent for a minute and the she said, "I don't know... he looks good in red?" And in that moment I completely understood Amy. We were both girls who could be bamboozled by a man if he were wearing a good color, a sporty hoodie, a well-cut shirt.
Amy was there for me when I went through my own ridiculous and destructive relationship with the Wily Republican. She was also there last year when I was lusting after one of her boyfriend's rugby mates. A meeting was arranged at a bar, and when Amy's boyfriend brought the boy over for an introduction the boy took one look at me and turned around and left. He just left. Amy's boyfriend hadn't even finished saying my name, and already the boy was just a back receding into the crowd. What I love most about Amy was that she was so appalled, that she was so fiercely repulsed, that she spent the rest of the night pissed at everything--even her boyfriend--because that boy had been so cruel.
Amy is the girl everyone goes to when they have problems, when they need to scream, when they need to cry. She will always let you sit in her living room and unload your problems and throw things. She will be there to hand you a marker when you get so angry at one of your friends that you want to draw mustaches and nasty captions on every picture you have of her. She will be the one to turn up the music and suggest everyone does the Electric Slide.
I know plenty of girls out there who have never had a friend like Amy, a friend who has stood the test of time, a girl who has managed to teach everyone so much about life and happiness and spontaneity--and I feel so sad for anyone who's never known a girl like that. I mean, if you've never answered the phone at 3 AM in the morning to hear the words, "Seriously, he was dressed as a cow today at work, and I couldn't stop staring at his udders, so I kept losing my train of thought. Seriously, why can't my life BE NORMAL?!" then you, my friends, have never truly known love.