I met her twenty years ago. She was sitting on the hearth of a giant stone fireplace in a log cabin. We'd both signed up for a weekend retreat in the woods for kids from divorced and/or widowed homes. (She was a divorce. I was both.) She sat there in ripped jeans, a pair of Adidas high-tops and wore a shitload of peace signs around her neck. With a tangle of dark curls, chocolate brown eyes and the perfect pouty lip, she was like no one I'd ever met before.
Now, I've always been somewhat intimidated by pretty people - male, female, doesn't matter. And this girl was no exception to that rule. But beyond her physical beauty, infinite talents and a poise that I'd never seen a sixteen year old possess, was a heart so pure, so raw, so completely kindred with mine, I knew we were meant to be friends.
We shared many similar interests and in the winter of that year, we began to share another similarity: the death of a parent. Where an event like this could push someone into rebelling or turning to drugs or alcohol, we defied those odds. While my talents rested comfortably in her shadows, we threw ourselves into music and dance.
As we grew older, we drifted apart. After I got married and had my son, she, too met someone. I heard later she'd married him and moved to Minnesota. Life got in the way of our friendship.
Or so I thought.
I'd always wondered what happened to my talented friend. Did she go into modeling? Music? Dance? Did she end up on Broadway? Perhaps Vogue magazine? I hadn't heard her on the radio so I didn't think she'd gone into music (despite a recording deal offered to her shortly before we parted ways), but you never knew. Some projects took years to come to fruition. But I had looked for her and couldn't find her. She'd virtually disappeared. After a while, I stopped looking.
Then one day, years later, she came back into my world again. I'm not even sure now how it happened. As we got caught up on old times, I realized that life hadn't gotten in the way of our friendship; an emotionally controlling spouse did.
He'd convinced her that friends were superfluous...he'd also convinced her that she wasn't talented enough or pretty enough or smart enough to pursue any of the dreams she'd built her young life on. I realize it's not all his fault, mind you. She was the one who didn't believe in herself enough to know that he was feeding her bullshit...that he was just trying to manipulate her into some cookie cutter mold. he'd formed in his head as to what the perfect wife should be. That being said, she spent fifteen years in a marriage she didn't deserve.
She deserved marquees and spot lights and playbills. She deserved Grammys and Tonys and choreography credits in the best movies. She deserved the love of a good man and the rights to be called "Mom" by the most beautiful children in the world.
At least she got the kids.
Now? She's working on the rest. Someday she'll get there.
Until then, let it be said that I won't let her settle for second best ever again. So if you love her - treat her right. Earn the love she shows you. Be unconditional. Be her champion, because Goddammit...she deserves one.