Diary of a Professional Teen is a weekly column of #deep thoughts by twentysomething teenager and youth expert Taylor Trudon. Every Thursday, she’ll talk about her feelings in relation to what it’s like to be a Young Person in 2016.
There’s this part at the end of The Edge of Seventeen, the new coming-of-age film about an awkward teenager whose life is turned upside down once her BFF starts dating her popular older brother, where Hailee Steinfeld’s character, Nadine, is hesitatingly asked by her best friend, Krista, “Can I call you later?”
Nadine answers with a surprised smile: “Yeah.” And then she heads out the door.
It’s a simple scene, but it gutted me. The exchange didn’t signify the end of a friendship, but rather a shift. Krista would call her and they’d likely hang out, maybe spending an afternoon baking cookies and gossiping in the kitchen. But it’d be different forever.
In my life, the end of relationships always seem to begin as a slow burnout. You start attending an out-of-state college. You make new friends with whom you share new experiences. You move across the country for a job. You begin a serious relationship with another person, whose own friends, family members, and interests begin to intersect with your own. Some people refer to this as “life.”
I’m reminded of this shift when I’m scrolling through Instagram and see a photo of a friend who I no longer talk to. I still remember what her childhood bedroom looked liked, her careful handwriting from when she let me borrow her AP History flash cards, the old hand-me-down car she picked me up in before we went to get Dairy Queen blizzards on a sweaty summer night. I took prom pictures in her front yard and sat in a church pew during Christmas break of college, staring at the back of her head, as her mom’s casket was carried out. On Instagram, I see her on vacation with her boyfriend, whom I’ll probably never meet — even though I once imagined us being each other’s bridesmaids — and hope she’s happy.
When my dad and stepmom got divorced when I was in college, she told me that my relationship with her wouldn’t change. Even before the words left her mouth, I knew that it already had. How could it not? After the divorce, she moved out and got a condo by the mall with her birth daughter. I’d go over for dinner and she’d always tell me that I could spend the night whenever I wanted. I could tell she meant it. She kept a framed photo of me — one from my internship at Seventeen magazine — on her dresser. Slowly, we stopped talking. “Maybe it was too difficult for her,” someone had suggested. I’d wonder if my picture was still on her dresser.
A few years ago, I was standing outside of Carnegie Hall before an event with my friend. While we waited to be let inside the venue, I distracted myself from the cold by scrolling through Facebook. And that’s when her profile picture appeared on my smudged iPhone screen as a “suggested friend.” She was wearing a strapless white dress and had a new last name. It felt like I had been sucker punched. I had to repeatedly blink my eyes to keep them from welling with tears. Like a breakup, she had moved on. In that moment I realized that, even years later, I still hadn’t.
There are times when I think about her now. She is still linked to my Amazon account that she helped me set up in high school, so every time I get an email from the company, her name appears in my inbox and I want to scream. I could change it, but I haven’t. I could reach out to her, but I don’t, mostly because I know I wouldn’t be able to handle the prospect of rejection. So I just keep deleting the emails from Amazon until I get a new one telling me about a Cyber Monday deal on “festive noisemakers.” And then I delete again.
When I told my best friend, Michelle, over pizza that I was moving to L.A. this summer, she came back to our shared apartment, locked the bathroom door, and cried in the shower. I thought she was overreacting. After all, she lived in Spain for a year during grad school while I stayed behind in New York — how was this different?
“This isn’t temporary,” she told me through tears. “This isn’t just for a year.” She was right.
There’s this song by Lorde called “Ribs” that always makes me tear up when I hear the lyrics. The song is about growing up; how one minute you’re sharing a bed with your friend like little kids and then you’re not. Michelle and I discovered Lorde together, listening to her first EP on repeat while making breakfast on Sundays. “It feels so scary getting old,” Lorde sings. She was 16 when that song came out. How did she already know?
Michelle is coming to stay with me for a week this month. We’ll probably drink too much wine and go to Disneyland. I’ll show her where I buy my coffee and where my favorite tacos are. She’ll roll her eyes at my messy bedroom filled with empty seltzer cans and we’ll laugh and compare the ridiculous Tinder messages we’ve received, because some things still don’t change. I’ll introduce her to my new California life — the one where she still fits in equally, yet differently. And when I think about it like that, it’s not so scary.
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