Written for Jonathan Bradley Welch’s amazing A Very Special Episode show! Theme: BFF’s!
I met my best friend the first week of college. She was looking for someone in Bruce Hall, which was the art dorm, because it had art studios on the top floor. Also, it was the cheapest. It didn’t have air conditioning, and it was supposed to be haunted.
I heard a kid died elevator surfing, where you get into an elevator shaft and ride on an elevator until someone takes it to the top floor and you fucking die.
Instead of getting a haunted elevator, we got the elevator closed the rest of the year and everybody had to take the stairs.
Don’t pity him. Pity us.
Melissa walked past my door, and I went out and said, hi, it’s nice to meet another goth. She said, what’s a goth? And I said, it’s us. It’s what we are.
Sidebar: this story is before Edward Scissorhands and Hot Topic. This was before the Craft, before the 2000’s when everyone was wearing vinyl pants and talking about how they partied like a rockstar. Mel was from a small town in Texas called Palestine, which had the same population as my high school. Word of goth had not gotten there yet, and she may have believed she was the only person who read tarot and listened to sad music for hours.
She was not.
Mel had long black hair and little round silver glasses and dark lipstick and many layers of black lace on, and in general looked like someone who maybe someday would get a Sylvia Plath tattoo.
I had short red hair and a nose ring and looked like someone who might have prepared a monologue from Sylvia Plath’s the Bell Jar for an audition for a film called Teen Witch. That is something that I did do, and they managed to make the film without me.
I asked her, what do you think you are? What do your high school friends call you? And she shrugged and said, spooky kid.
We started hanging out right away. Our main hobbies were: taking acid and seeing the Rocky Horror Picture Show, getting dressed up and taking dramatic portraits of each other in the stairwells at school. Also we drank terrible dorm coffee with ice cream bars melted into them, and Bailey’s irish cream, and then we wondered why we were getting fat.
We were inseparable. We dated briefly until we remembered we were probably primarily straight. We went to New Orleans for spring break and hung out in front of Anne Rice’s house. We went to goth clubs, sat in the back of rooms and complained together, and in general we had fun.
Our friendship wasn’t perfect. When Tank Girl came out, based on a comic book series I liked a lot, I shaved my head into a Chelsea haircut and wore tutus and combat boots a lot, and felt like I was working an edgy look.
She took a photograph of the back of my head that demonstrated that my head was a bad one for shaving. My skull is long and H.R. Geiger-like in the back, and there is a shelf. I asked her why she hadn’t told me my head was bad and she said she figured it was too late.
Once, she wouldn’t stop puking, and I took her to the emergency room and waited with her for ten hours.
One time, she was my confidant and best friend and and she understood me, and that was all the time.
Another time, we drove to Oklahoma city in the middle of the night because we wanted a box of Boo-Berry cereal, which was not available in Texas, and we ate it as the sun came up and it wasn’t very good.
We were a really good match. I was a little too tall and she was a little bit short. I was an emotionally needy extrovert who met everyone and remembered no-one and she was sometimes shy, but she could remember everyone we’d met.
After college, I moved to Portland, OR to date a boy I’d met in Dallas. She followed soon after and we took back up together. We were doing exciting things like going to a goth club owned by the Russian mob, dancing to Britpop, and complaining that things weren’t the same as they had been in Dallas, Texas. What they were was much better.
I became aware that she had found another girl to hang out with named Caroline. Caroline was also a little too tall and wore high heels all the time and I thought she was loud, even though I am also loud.
We still liked each other. We still saw each other. But Caroline was usually there too. It was stupid to complain that I was jealous. Why should I be jealous? I was jealous.
The End, My Friend
Our friendship wasn’t really over until she and my husband had a disagreement about plans that they’d made. I expected her to pick us up for a DJ gig and she didn’t, but she showed up hours later, drunk and with Caroline, talking in circles about how fun and fucked up their evening had been. I told her I was tired of her letting me down, and she was furious.
It was her word against his, and I felt like I had to side with my husband. It was a small thing. Looking back, it didn’t matter, but everyone was very angry.
Two years later, my marriage ended, because my husband was sleeping with another friend of mine, which I didn’t like very much. That friend in turn was surprised that I didn’t like her anymore.
I went to Melissa’s wedding, to a tall blonde Swede, within a month of my divorce, because I loved her and it was important. It was a beautiful wedding in an art library, with favors made from antique books and a cake in the shape of a gilded beehive.
I sat with our friends and cried a little harder, because I wasn’t just happy for her. I was also sorry for myself. At this point, she had fallen out with Caroline over something.
We are still facebook friends. We leave each other likes and comments. I am happy to be to see her happy. She is happily married and doing well. But I still miss my very best friend.