My mirror.

She's not just a friend.

She's a sister.

She's also a mirror that sometimes hate to look into because I can't control what's looking back at me. I see her living so many of my trials. It's not surprising, so many things in our lives are "the same". I mean, we even share the same name. Little life details, birthdays, relative names, and much more. We used to actually tell new friends all these things, and we would laugh at the odds. The one thing I never wanted to share with her were my pains.

 I did over time, however, and sometimes I even wondered if part of my journey was to be able to share with her, and maybe save her from some of the things that I wish I had avoided. It has never worked. At least she had someone who understood.

Let me tell you a bit about my BFF. Starting here, she's stubborn as HELL.

 She grew up in a very Christian atmosphere, going to church regularly and holding to the proper good girl image she thought the Church required. That all changed maybe the year before she met me. She had gotten older and started to find her own way in religion and life. It was a good change, I believe. I think she has found more God outside of the church than she ever found in it, and she spends more time concentrating on the spiritual world than many of the church goin’ folk I know.

 She's also very giving. I love that about her, but it has given her the same problems it gave me. So many people see a soft kind heart and just want to reach in and pull the gold from your chest. It's worse if your in any position of power but that was never her issue. Her problem was seeing the injured sparrow in everyone she met. Every person I've ever met has had some sort of damage, some pain they won't let go. I think that's part of what makes us, well, us. It drives us. Without it we would have no empathy for others, no understanding. Steph F.(my friend) always wanted to fix that brokenness, just didn't realize how much she had inside her. 

She is still to this day anyone else’s biggest cheerleader, just not her own. I've told her a thousand times that she could do so much more, but she's convinced she can’t. It kills me to think that how she has always done things is how she always will. As kids I would not have thought this was how she'd let things go down. As a kid I didn't realize what I was ‘letting go down’ though, so what do I know?

 (*EDIT-She has since made some amazing changes- she quit "putting up with it" to keep the story shorter until she shares it!)

Let me tell you how we met. The story is a little different to hear her tell it, but it is my blog so you get to hear my side. Deal with it.

Around the turn of the semester my sophomore year I got into some pretty big trouble at school. It has been over a decade, so I guess I can finally tell the whole truth (momma don't read this part, m’kay?).

Tenth grade rolls around. I had spent the summer before with my dad. His latest wife at the time wasn't too happy with him, and he had moved out. To keep the bite of losing my step family from hurting too bad he spent all summer letting me have parties and just … go. Maybe that was just so he could do his thing uninterrupted. I guess he realized I was hanging with an interesting crowd and figured he could cash in. 

He asked if I smoked pot. 

I told him I had but that I wasn't a stoner or anything, just tried it with my step brothers. Typical teen/adult conversation, right? That was the end of the typical part. The next part of the conversation detailed his troubles with the wife who he was trying to not divorce, the bills on the new house he was living in, and the ever evolving dream of having our own gun shop. A real deal one, not the kitchen table and storage facilities we often used to get out some- not too bad looking- AKs.

What's this got to do with pot? After that calm, light talk he asked if I could sell the stuff to friends at school. He said it would help us bring in some extra money to handle things around the house.

My heart was racing with the idea, but not expecting it to ever really happen, I agreed -I have no idea why. I felt like it was more of a set up than the real deal. Like any moment he was gonna say, "Gotcha!"

He didn't.

It wasn't a joke. The next visit he had a pound of pot sitting on the table, just casually sitting there. No big deal. I acted like it was no big deal too. I had seen plenty of pot in my 15 years, just not that much all at once and not on my kitchen table.

We had Sunday morning breakfast at that table.

I wanted to help. We bagged it all up into smaller quantities, and I took a good bit with me when I left to go back to my mom’s house. I think that's when reality first hit. It was all fine when it was his idea and his pot and his house. Now it was at my mom’s. I was a nervous wreck. My stomach hurt the whole way home. Mom asked what was wrong, but at that time it was easy enough to write me off as a weird teenager. When we got home, I started planning on how I could sell the stuff as quickly as possible.

Do you know what the charge is for distribution of pot in the early 2000s? What about distribution at a school? I honestly don't either. I'm gonna tell you now if it wasn't for cute-white-girl privilege things would have turned out much differently, not that I realized that or what white privilege was at that time. Sometime early in the morning a few weeks, after I had begun to sell this stuff on the school grounds, I was pulled from my classroom. The usual, "Grab your bags and come with us" from the principal and VP. Immediately every bit of legal knowledge I had started racing through my mind. I knew enough to keep quiet and that they would need proof of any crime before anything would happen. As I'm thinking over all these things I notice the VP had slowed his pace until he was behind my shoulder; he wanted to speak without being heard.

"If you have anything on you, there's a trash can on this corner - ditch it." This is the CWG privilege I spoke of…

I was stunned but responded "I don't have anything?!" and as far as I knew, I didn't. I had sold the last of my smoke in the parking lot that morning and honestly never wanted to pick up another bag in my life. My nerves just couldn't take it at school. The VP just nodded and allowed himself to catch up with the pace of the Principal.

We arrived in the back room of the main office, and I was requested to "Dump the bag," meaning my purse as I had already handed over my backpack. I suppose they had already searched my locker because we never did go to it. I gladly grabbed the bottom of my bag and shook.

Clank, Clink - BOOM!

At least that's what my ears heard as my heart dropped into my stomach. The knife - shit.

The VP’s head just dropped. I was a good student, part of the drama, yearbook and art clubs. I was on the soccer team. He had as much worry on his face as I did when the bag was emptied. We all just looked at it for a minute.

Now, I do live in Louisiana, so knives are not exactly unheard of at schools, at least not back when I was in school. Today, of course, they are completely unacceptable.

The problem is that it was a type of knife commonly known as a "Butterfly knife." These blades are illegal to carry in all 50 states but not to have, and I just so happened to have picked up one at the local gun and knife show the weekend before, with my dad.

After the hearing that left me expelled from school ... and on probation. Yes, I was arrested on the spot at school for possession of an illegal weapon. I hurried back to the school to drop out. If I dropped before the expulsion was ordered then I could go to another school in the state, just not the same parish. At least that was what a little plump, grey-headed bird told me on my way out of the hearing office. It worked. I just didn't know the impact following those instructions would have.

After a few trials on admission I was finally moved in with my dad and enrolled in Walker High School. So much is involved in that one little sentence that it doesn't do it justice, but here we are.

Moving in left me with a strange feeling. You see, ever since the "incident" when I was around 12 years old, I had started to spend all of my "Dad time" with friends. I would stay with boyfriends or whoever would have me for the weekend if I didn't have a soccer game or theater performance to use as a good excuse to be gone. Our relationship had changed a bit with the distance, and he was constantly trying to make up for lost time. Once I moved in I decided I would have to let him so we could move on with our lives. He was not the most responsible of adults, but I knew I would be fed and I'd be able to complete school. Last thing I wanted was to be trapped in high school for another year, and he kind of owed me one being that the whole issue started because someone turned me into crime stoppers.

I started off the day at my new school like any other kid, wandering around trying to find my classes and hoping not to stand out too majorly. Didn't work. I stood out like a sore thumb. There's a million reasons why, but I’m just gonna stick with the "new girl" theory. I made it through the first few classes and awkward introductions until it was time for lunch. Maybe I should tell this next part from both views… to me I was just wandering around, looking for anyone I knew. I mean this was my party city, well, bonfire country? Either way, I knew that I knew people here. I just had to find them. As I am looking around for the guy I used to date back in middle school, I hear it. A laugh followed by a group conversation that I couldn't make out. I have always believed that God pulls me to areas I need to be, lets me hear things I should hear. This was no different. He was guiding me, and this is what happened next.

" Angelic "

How did she know that name…

The girl I had never met said my name- my nickname- like it was shooting from a gun on her hip.

She was pretty. The kind of pretty I liked. Not a cookie cutter type but still a fair skinned blonde with sky blue eyes. I noticed the little details, the crook in her nose, the freckles that lightly dotted her face, and mostly, her thin stature. It was a trigger that brought me back to the issue at hand, the way she said that name.

That name. A given name. A name only my true friends knew. She spoke as if she knew me, personally, and that she wasn't afraid. She even continued her vocal vomiting of words by saying so. I knew I could take her, but, I didn't want a fight.

 At all.

I was alone, and scared, and I needed a friend more than anything. An ally. I thought I had some at this school, but oddly enough, the same people who I could party with on the weekends forgot who I was when the school bell rang. It was strange, almost as if I knew too many of their secrets, and they didn't want me to spill them now that I was in their company regularly.

I walked up behind her and just stood. I knew some of the girls at the table with her and their eyes lit when they met mine. Suddenly she stops, and then with a nervous laugh tossed her hair and says

“She’s behind me isn’t she?”

I think at first she didn’t actually think I was, it was just the look and she took it as a prank from her friends… until they shook their heads “Yes”.

I smiled, said something clever and we kinda laughed at the moment. I think she was just happy I took it well. Later that day I found myself in a city I didn’t know that well and no ride home. She was on the other side of the yard, helping out a friend who was going through a lot herself and as the only really friendly face I had seen all day, I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.

That ride set off a 20 year friendship now.

All because I decided just once, NOT to be a hard ass, and just smile..and let the drama go. Another chance. I’ll be forever grateful to whatever came over me that day. I gained a friend who give so much, and that I’m not sure I could have made it without. 

She has helped raise my kids, and my head. 

And Steph...because I know you are reading this, I love you..and I want you to know none of this would be possible if not for that moment. I would've become so much different without you. Thank you. 

This story occurred during my high school years. (1999)