Theme: fictionalize your first encounter with another GMGM author.
When I got the invitation to her wedding it got me thinking about what I had missed in her life. Meg and I had been best friends in high school but hundreds of pages had been turned since we last saw each other.
On our first day of high school we happened to sit next to each other. It was just a coincidence. But it felt like destiny when I saw that a newspaper was hidden in her bag. She wanted to be informed. The year was 1998 – America had one and only one topic to discuss and, wherever you went, there were people trying to ensure themselves of their moral values and their belief in fidelity, especially here in the Midwest. The president had sex with an intern and then lied about it to prevent a scandal. It was then that I became interested in politics, the moment I learned it is not about policies but about managing a story. While almost everybody in school had an opinion about the affair, Meg was hesitant to talk about it, while she obviously knew more about it than most of our classmates. She did not like to judge. She had her morals straight, knew for herself how to separate wrong from right. When I learned that about her, that was when I wanted to be friends with her. She sharpened my arguments when I became too intuitive and emotional during a discussion. She was the musician while I was the sporty one. She made me watch her school musicals while I made her watch the World Cup in France that year. She knew how to express her feelings through singing and poetry while I had to run mine off on the track. We were so different in the beginning and yet so inseparable over the years that we learned to love what the other one had brought into the relationship.
It must have been the day of graduation when we built our last meaningful memory. Due to an unfortunate weather situation, the diplomas were handed to us in the high school gymnasium. However, we had imagined us standing on the football field throwing our graduation hats in the air, screaming, laughing and being a little bit tipsy, since we had wanted to sneak in a bottle of white wine and drink it in the girls’ restroom out of plastic cups. We had wanted to cheer to our upcoming future as college girls.
The rain thwarted our plan: one would smell the alcohol on our breaths easily in a closed room, and we didn’t dare to stretch the rules that much. We assured each other we did not mind. Our college experiences would make up for it soon.
Plans for the summer were exchanged and last pictures were taken with our mothers who had over the years equally raised us, dried our tears when heartbroken for the very first time, sung with us at bonfires, cheered us on at school events. Their girls had been best friends and it seemed only right for them to become friends too. During puberty, it was sometimes easier to speak to the mother of the other than to our own. We did not feel the same need to distance ourselves from her, did not bear any grudges like we did towards our own mother.
Back then, Facebook had not been invented yet and those pictures had to be printed. I looked at them a lot in my first weeks of college, but had since forgotten about them, lying untouched in a dusty shoe box in my wardrobe. I remembered them when I finally decided to go to the wedding and spread them out on my desk. I was delighted about our looks. Our hair was straight, like the girls of the day used to wear; we looked polished and full of confidence. Even though Meg and I looked so different, we managed to look like sisters in some of the pictures. Hanging out every day does that to you, maybe.
I framed one picture as a wedding gift. We’re standing back to back, still dressed in our graduation gowns. Our hands folded into mock guns, our eyes squeezed, we dared the future to disappoint us.
Arriving at the wedding I was amazed by the unconventional crowd. One could tell somehow by the way the guests were dressed that most of them were artist or singers. I assumed that was what Meg had become, too. They were laughing and telling stories about Meg and her soon-to-be husband. I did not know anyone but some relatives from back in the day. Meg had made a lot of new friends over the years.
I learned that she was now living in the sunny state, in the capital of hippies. I could not help but imagine her sitting in a bourgeois coffee shop, not one of those soulless coffee chains, writing a book. I was not surprised that friends of hers were playing music during the ceremony. They were talented and I pictured Meg often singing with them. Maybe even being the star of the group.
Meg entered the scene accompanied by her parents. Walking down the aisle is loaded with conservative traditions. It struck me that this was no such moment. Meg’s chin was up. She looked straight to where the man she had chosen was waiting for her. Her steps determined, but her eyes glowing with joy, while her parents looked down to the ground because they had to watch their steps. It seemed to me that by taking her parents with her down the aisle, she wanted to reassure them: I can walk on my own and I really want you to welcome that man over there in my life.
Before the wedding, I wondered how much I had missed in her life. When I watched her that day, I was suddenly sure that did not matter. She had turned a new page in her life and she was so self-confident and happy that she did not need the old friend from back then in her life anymore. Some chapters were too beautiful to be reopened. And even though I appreciated the gesture of inviting me, I got up quietly, smiling, and slipped out of the room.