My friend Aina won the last comment competition, and her blog challenge to me was to write about her. As of this month, Aina and I have been friends for ten years. This entry will probably be the most sentimental piece of writing you have ever read on this site. But Aina, this is not red-wine-induced. I never drink and blog.
I first met Aina at drama class ten years ago. We were both new girls in the class, we were the youngest, and we noticed each other immediately. I noticed Aina because she spent the five minutes before our first class bouncing against a wall. Also, her bangs were a very bright shade of pink. (Although she may have dyed them after our first meeting, I can’t remember). Compared to this dramatic first impression, I don’t know what made me stand out from the crowd. Maybe it was because I was so much shorter than all the other girls. For whatever reason, Aina told me later, she saw me and thought: "This girl is going to be my friend."
Many of my other friends, both the ones I knew before Aina and the ones I met later, have asked me why the two of us are friends. We look and act like a childrens’ book illustration of opposites: tall and short, dark-skinned and pale, loud and quiet. (Not to mention – oh, the irony! – she’s allergic to coffee.) At parties, she’s the center of attention, while I cheer her on from a corner where I’m having some sort of serious conversation. Our interests, feelings towards school, politics and much of our taste in music, clothes and hobbies only occasionally match up. Had we met at school, we would probably have been in different crowds, and we might never have had a real conversation.
Making friends in drama class was different from making friends in regular school. We all had to wear head-to-toe black in class and of course costumes on stage, so seeing people in their real clothes was unusual. We got used to doing weird things together: voice exercises, fistfights without touching, pushing invisible boxes in slow motion, balancing on tight-ropes that weren’t really there. Looking back, I realize that drama class was as much about imagining things as it was about acting them out. It was a weekly escape. No matter what was going on in the rest of my life, I wasn’t supposed to think about it in class. And no matter what the rest of my friends and acquaintances did or said, Aina was separate from them.
We shared an "abstract" sense of humor and (over-)active imaginations. We could (all right, we still can) spend hours having "What if?" conversations, making up increasingly unlikely scenarios and storylines. Sometimes these ideas would become short stories or scripts, but usually it was just a way to pass the time. We both kept diaries (my entries were usually short stories describing my experiences chronologically, while Aina’s journal was an apparently random mix of sketches and stream-of-consciousness). We often called during the day to tell each other about our dreams. Each of the three years that a part of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy came out, we would stay up until 6 AM discussing it. I don’t think any other person has ever made me laugh as much as she has. Sometimes I missed having a best friend whom I could also swap clothes with, and often it annoyed me that we lived more than walking distance apart, but other than that, our differences made the friendship interesting, not complicated.
Other friends did complicate things. I was a different person when I was with Aina, and I think she was a different person when she was with me. When there were other people there, neither of us quite knew how to behave. Even people we were both friends with, were often difficult to spend time with in groups. The changes we both went through over the years only made our differences greater. We e-mailed and visited less and less, and by the time we had both graduated from high school, we barely saw each other. She visited me once at the university, and sometimes we were invited to the same parties. After months of silence between us, she sent me a long e-mail update, and the Tori Amos album The Beekeeper, because it was too beautiful not to be shared. Although I still credit her with introducing me to Tori Amos, I don’t think I was all that impressed at the time; I had so many other things on my mind.
The morning after Midsummer’s Eve in 2006, I woke up in my new apartment. I don’t know if it was the shrimp, the chicken or the wine, but I have never on any morning before or since felt worse. At two PM, having barely made it through breakfast and some random tv movie, I picked up my phone, intending to call last night’s hostess. For some reason, I ended up talking to Aina instead. It was our first phone conversation in about a year, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t just misdial. There must have been some reason for the following conversation:
"I feel so awful, I still haven’t finished breakfast."
"Me too. Midsummer?"
"And I had the weirdest dream…"
"So did I!"
And just like that, we were back to normal.
Today our circles of friends have overlapped much more than before, but she is still the one I call to get a completely different perspective on whatever I’m thinking about. We celebrated our ten year friendship anniversary a few weeks ago. I could write something sweet about how we’ve always been there for each other through ten years of trials and tribulations, but it would be stretching the truth a bit. We’ve lived two very different lives, and we haven’t always understood each other. But more than most, if not all, of my friends, she has influenced me and made me a compeletely different person from the one I would have been without her. And every once in a while, she’ll say something that tells me that she really gets me, despite all the outward differences. Over those ten years, we’ve had fights, hysterical laughter, a few tears, deep conversations, random conversations only we could understand, hundreds of inside jokes,
milk and cookies, coffee and cookies, cookies, second helpings of blueberry pie, very interesting outfits, and a lot of Pringle’s.