Breaking up with a boyfriend is bad enough. Unless you’re truly unlucky, you’ll have your girlfriends to catch you, commiserate with you, tolerate your wailing over him, and more or less nurse you back to normal. But, what happened when you break up with your best pal? Who will be there to catch you?
I became an expatriate in 8th grade. We moved to Jeddah and somehow my English was deemed good enough to go to an international school there. So there I was, the only Indonesian kid there, not knowing a single soul nor understanding anything. New and confused, I was so happy when I met Siti during recess. Here’s someone who looked like me, came from a neighbouring country, shared some Malay language and voila, I found a friend. It’s not that my classmates were horrible, just the opposite, is just that in Siti I felt I found someone with the same wavelength. Soon we start spending most recess time together, yakking on the phone, she even invited me for sleep overs at her house.
As Siti is a diplomat’s child, this was not the first time she lived abroad. Unlike me, she’s lived in Bonn and some other countries, can’t remember where now. She helped me practice my English, introduced me to Anne of Green Gables, and checking out the cute guys in school. Along with my classmates, she was quite influential in making my schooldays a happy, pleasant experience. Or so I thought.
Summer came and went. This was not the era of emails so we basically lost touch during the holidays. I wasn’t a great letter writer nor was she. Wasn’t really looking forward to returning to Jeddah, but the thoughts of seeing my friends again cheered me up considerably. So of course on the first day we shrieked and hugs the way only teenage girls do. Better and more confident in my English, 9th grade is going to be a blast!
And it was at first. We decided to auditioned for the school plays. We both ended up in the chorus but it doesn’t matter. Siti and I had much fun learning the songs and dance routine. Even though we’re just the chorus, performing was great fun. I was really enjoying my days and felt really lucky to have Siti to share it with me.
Then school breaks for New Year. When we came back, I noticed Siti wasn’t as excited to see me. But she still hangs out with me so I thought she must be just tired or something. Slowly I noticed she kinda withdrew from me. She still sit at our table but she just seem distracted. Then she start spending time with other people, not really returning my calls, until she finally said well, it’s been nice knowing you but I think I’m going to hang out with other people now. Or something to that effect.
I was stunned. What did I do?
I wrote her a note. Years before I read Cosmo, she gave me this overrated line,”It’s no you, it’s me. I think you’re great!” If I’m so great then why? I was in denial about her breaking up with me. We’ve been sitting together in Business class until one day she was summoned by her new friends and move to sit with her making it crystal clear where her loyalty lies now.
Yes folks. She moved with the in-crowd and I’m not so out I go. I think I actually cried at school after that business class. It stung like hell to be dropped just like that. It really is worse than breaking up with a boyfriend. How do you manage to bounce back from that?
Luckily I do have other friends. It was a rather big school after all. The girls from my home room were my lifesaver. They were the ones that catch me and picked me up. They knew me, watched me grow from this quiet kid to somewhat chatty person as I get more fluent, accept me as I am, embraced me and lend me their shoulders. They were on my side, was just as outraged at what they see as ‘betrayal’. See, it wasn’t just me she shunned, it was practically the whole group. She had to. She can’t be seen with us ‘losers’ if she wants to be invited to parties.
Eventually I get over it. So I’m not with the in-crowd. So what? At least I’m nobody’s lapdog. But, after Siti, I don’t trust people as easily. Scarred for life, I build my wall of protection. I became a sort of pessimist, taking things with a pinch of salt. Which is funny because years later, in uni a friend of mine says I’m an open book who wears her heart on her sleeves. (Well, maybe to you Conde cuz you’re one of my bestmate 😉
I still find it hard to make friends especially now I’m out of school and in the real world. It doesn’t help that the few bestfriends that I do have are spread all over, none are close to me. But I have faith and hope that one day I will have a best friend again, someone I can call and talk to in good times and bad times.
As for Siti, well I lost touch after we graduated. Wasn’t exactly keen to send her postcards. No idea what she’s up to now.
So there you have it. Breaking up with a girl friend is just awful. It’s not like you can burn her love letters to feel cathartic; friends don’t write each other love notes. But if you just ride it out, with the help of other friends, you’ll get over it. Life really does go on.
*to Z, A, Z, M, you guys are the best. I’m eternally grateful. Kisses. Miss you lots!*