I saw Renee today; all grown up and covered in dark make-up, hair twisting down to her ass in shiny, sleek braids and tresses; she looked beautiful – sixteen and a half years old already and driving her father’s beat up old blue pick-up truck…
Renee and Boo used to be best friends for like – EVER, in the ‘hood. They went to different schools but played every day after homework was done, took each other on family trips and so on. By the time that Boo had to leave home in exchange for a “residential treatment facility” because of her increasingly unruly behavior, the girls had grown apart for the same reason: Renee is a tried and true “angel”, without a mean bone in her body; Boo is natural-born and rightful Hellraiser.
Seeing Renee today, so happy and full of life and promise and bright futures wide open to her, I have to confess I was stricken by some sort of jealousy or envy – CORRECTION – I was nearly consumed by it.
I spoke to her for a few minutes about her dad and dogs and whatever other things I could think up to say as I watched her eyes dart everywhere around us, looking for Boo – searching for Boo with so much hope and excitement barely contained behind her eyes. It always goes this way when I see one of Boo’s friends, or better yet: a parent of one her friends – someone who knows very little about me and my daughter’s trials and tribulations – someone ready to spit venomous and projected judgments at me,
I finally shot out my hand and grabbed Renee’s arm, surprising myself with my own sudden decision, and said,
“Renee, you and Boo might be totally different and worlds apart these days, but she’s been MIA on the run for almost 2 months and just found out that her father died; yeah – her father died, yeah, the one that’s been in prison – he died; she just returned from AWOL yesterday morning to hear that news, and…well, you know how she is…she could probably use a friend, a real friend right now…”
My eyes stared down at the concrete where we stood in front of the donut shop, my grasp still tight on her arm. Her response was almost immediate, and painfully sincere; she said,
“I love Boo and always will, but I guess it’s because of that, well that’s why it’s too hard to be friends with her…you know?…because she hates herself so much…”
I choked up, but covered it beautifully behind my dark sunglasses; I smiled down at her, my grip loosening slowly and gently, so as not to imply any offense or resentment towards her. “I know, Kiddo…” I said, “I understand…”