Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why Caela Carter was Afraid to have a Best Friend

I am sooooo excited about reading Caela's book, ME, HIM, THEM and IT. It's at the tiptop of my reading list, and I can't wait to sink my teeth in. I've heard so many people raving about this book!! Gritty YA FAVE!!! Caela's book just came out in February 2013!

ME, HIM, THEM AND IT by Caela Carter

ME is Evelyn Jones, 16, a valedictorian hopeful who's been playing bad girl to piss off THEM, her cold, distant parents. HIM is Todd, Evelyn's secret un-boyfriend, who she thought she was just using for sex - until she accidentally fell in love with him. But before Evelyn gets a chance to tell Todd how she feels, something much more important comes up. IT. IT is a fetus. Evelyn is pregnant - and when Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn has no idea who to turn to. Can a cheating father, a stiff, cold mother, a pissed-off BFF, and a (thankfully!) loving aunt with adopted girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?

And now, in Caela's own words, a touching and heartbreaking story and then touching again story that probably many of us can relate to. But she says it best in her own's Caela...

It was the beginning of third grade and I was being dumped by my friend. Publicly. I distinctly remember sitting at my desk in classroom when D dropped it into my palm: the jagged edge of the half silver heart with the letters “BE- FRI-” carved into it. Even though I’d given her the better half of the necklace without even arguing. “Here,” she’d said. “I don’t need this. I’m best friends with K now.”

            I was a little girl who didn’t understand friendships that could be part-politics, who wasn’t interested in New Kids on the Block or winning recess kickball or owning the best pair of shoes. I could not comprehend what D was doing, though, believe me, it hurt.

            The trading of friendship necklaces became an epidemic in our school for the next few years. Girls were often heartbroken, crying on the playground, over jewelry lost in the dissolving of friendships. I couldn’t understand any of it. When I was handed a half-heart, it always said “-EST -ENDS,” I always accepted, even though I didn’t understand the game. It was always eventually taken from me.

            By the time I got to high school, the very concept of “BEST FRIENDS” scared the heck out of me. I was fortunate to have a bunch of close girlfriends in high school, some of whom I still hold in my heart. Melissa always wanted to hang out, to talk, to sit next to me in the cafeteria. Jackie found me my very first boyfriend. And Katie and I spent so many hours together running, lifeguarding, eating, double-dating, and (occasionally) arguing we may as well have been sisters. But each of these girls seemed to have other friends who were actually the “best”. I avoided those words in high school.

            But I thought about them.  I would often think about girls who were obviously best friends. I would wonder how they knew, how they chose, how they managed to hold onto each other without one tearing the other down as I had experienced in my elementary school.

            I thought I’d missed the Best Friend Boat.

            But then I went to college at Notre Dame and I met Linda. She was the silly girl who lived across the hall from me, who had grown up only hours from my house, who was fun and nerdy and warm and open-minded and almost-never shy. Who could make anyone laugh, even that someone was also crying. We were fast friends.

            We spent hours in the Lafortune Student Center (the table in the basement, closest to the door). We would study and talk and laugh and share big cups of Mr. Pibb Xtra and slices of greasy Sbarro pizza. We were there so often people would come looking for us. This was in the era of AOL Instant Messenger and before WiFi, so we would leave “Away Messages” on index card with highlighters— “Going to the dining hall”, “Back at the dorm for a shower.”

            When we walked around campus, we hopped over the cracks in the sidewalks without even halting our conversations. We went out dancing and sometimes did silly dance moves in unison without thinking. Linda loved science and she would tell me all the fascinating things she learned. She taught me more about science than I ever learned from my teachers. She would read short stories  I wrote for my creative writing classes. We’d wear each other’s clothes without asking.

            I don’t know if we ever called each other best friends in college. I know we didn’t use that term to limit each other. We had other friends and it was clear that some were closer to one of us than the other, but we didn’t use that to hurt each other. And when the girls around us engaged in pointless drama, Linda was my respite and I was hers. She made friendship easy. And we always made each other laugh.

            When Linda and Nestor (her long-time crush) finally started dating, I was ready for it to change the dynamic of our relationship, but it brought us closer. He was so great, he made her even more Linda.

            When we were forced to graduate, we fantasized about digging holes in the quad and burying ourselves side-by-side, refusing to ever leave. The joke was because of how much we loved Notre Dame (and we still do). But we only wanted to stay there if we could be together.

            Of course our relationship has changed. We’ve become professionals (Linda is a SuperSmart Scientist, to use the technical term). We’ve moved far away from each other. We’ve each gotten married. And we’ve had a few conversations that skirted close to fights. (Example: Linda once told me I was dating someone who wasn’t good for me. I didn’t want to hear it. She was right. There was no yelling.) There are times when we feel so close it’s like she can read my mind. But there are weeks and months when we don’t have the time and the gaps between us feel larger. I miss her when this happens, but it doesn’t hurt. 

            So, I’ll say the words now. We’re best friends and we have been since our late teens. Our best-friendship is so close to idyllic it’s actually comical. We make each other laugh in every conversation (even the sad ones.) We know and love each other’s families and other best friends. We were college roommates. We share a birthday (May 6th). We were “best women” in each other’s weddings (two years apart). And, in a crazy twist of fate, I married Linda’s husband’s best friend and college roommate. (Yes, really.)

            That’s pretty good for a girl who grew up afraid of the very words “BEST FRIENDS”

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