answer me, 2008: revisiting the friendship circle that reeked with what could have been.

It’s funny just how much is said through a photo, without a single word exchanged. The tangle of hands draped around each other’s waists and shoulders, random body parts touching everywhere depicting their exact closeness towards each other, and wide grins plastered on each person’s face; one girl was even caught on camera tilting her head slightly to the left, as if resting ever so slightly on the shoulder of the other.

A hundred different gestures of love to depict one thing: happiness. This is a friendship, sisterhood, friends for the ages.

This was the photo of the girls who left me behind.

“You know I met D in Sydney? We spent the night talking, me and her, about our high school days and whatnot. We spoke about that friendship circle and what happened, do you remember? She had no idea, how funny, it was the biggest thing for me. The other day I came across a recent photo of them – one of them had uploaded it on her Facebook wall – and I thought… it’s really funny all that’s said with a picture alone. I guess it’s real for them?” I paused. “To be honest, I don’t remember much about the fallout anymore – the why and what, the details are now hazy in my mind too. I can’t even tell you the real story cos I don’t remember much, ha. I’ve moved on, just as much as they have and in my own way I have forgiven them, truly. To their credit I think they did feel guilty towards me, at least for a time, so they realized what they did to me then was low. Plus all of our lives are so different now, you know?”

She nodded silently and so I continued, “But you know… I think the reason I still remember is because I feel wronged. I think this feeling transcends age and disregards the pettiness of the issue; it’s the unfairness of never being given the chance to explain yourself. It’s… the breaking of trust by the very same people you’d entrusted a part of yourself to. When it came down to the wire, they chose her – they chose each other. None of them chose me. Not one. I don’t blame or hold anything against them anymore, but this feeling of having been wronged is extremely difficult to move past and do away with.”

A few weeks after coming across that photo, I wondered whether I still have any old photos of us. I recall these sticker photos, you know the kind you’d take at photo booths? We used to love doing that back in the day because hanging out at malls were our thing; it made us feel cool. I remember what I did with those sticky ones: I shred them to pieces before throwing them away. Then I proceeded to delete a number of write-ups in this blog I had had about them …now I remember what happened to any leftover photos. I think I was still seventeen or may have just turned eighteen and wasn’t over the fallout, so I’d thrown away all the photos I could find. I think I’d even ripped some, for drama’s sake.

Memory sure is a funny thing though; I recall another one from that period, a rare time when Eldest Sis was home because she was on break from medical school. I’d come home from school all sweaty, tired and upset. I can’t remember what this was over and whether this was before, during or after the big friendship breakup where they’d chosen to side with her, all of them. The entire fallout was a mess, lots of cold shoulders and so-called confessions. Lots of name-calling and immature truth-telling; we were just kids pretending to be adults, basically. It was stupid, but it also hurt.

I’d tried to hold back the tears all day in school and so unsurprisingly, the dam broke the moment I arrived home. I just stood in the middle of the second floor’s living room, facing my sister, bawling my eyes out. I wasn’t able to get any word out because my body shook so hard from the impact of tears, so much tears. Slowly, she got up from where she was sitting on the floor and walked up to me. She held me close, not minding my sweat and tears. She said nothing, not a word about them or myself. She simply held me close. It was the first and only time that someone, anyone, had consoled me. It was my first time to be held in that way. It was the first time, the only time, that I was saved by someone else.

Isn’t it funny? The choices we make, however minuscule, create ripples that extend beyond our imaginations. However petty it was, their decision had effectively changed the course of the friendship circle; subtract myself out and six years later, they’re still going strong. Good for them, I want nothing to do with the circle and wish nothing but the best for all of us. Today I understood something that I didn’t about that moment, something I’d overlooked for the past six years: while those girls chose to leave me behind, Eldest Sis chose to stay – sweat and tears be damned. It is the ones who stay that matter, never forget that. Since then there’s not been a second time too, because I am my own first choice – always.


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