What made you think you were so much better than me? Perhaps I was young, confused, and obsessive. But you were no less so, in truth. What you did was ridiculous. You went out of your way to destroy an innocent young girl's life and support structure. It was only by chance, and strength I didn't know I had, that I rebuilt myself. I thank you for teaching me how to cope when abandoned, and for forcing me to reassess everything about myself. But I will never understand what made you think that turning all my friends against me was a fair and appropriate treatment. What's more, I will never understand why, in the year I liked you, you did nothing and were polite and civil, even after you stopped being friendly. Only after I had moved on, told you so, and apologized for my behavior, did you choose to cause problems. Only then did you declare that we had never been friends, when I had been a better friend to you than I think you realized.
I've always been a little surprised at the way it worked out. I would never had guessed that you, with your reputation for being an asshole, could convince so many people who I thought were my friends to drop me. I've wondered what you said, what you told them. Then again, given how rotten teenagers are to each other, perhaps all you told was the truth, and it wasn't your fault at all. Regardless, it was so bad that I had to pretend to ignore my own brother, just so he wouldn't get tarred by the brush of my infamy, the way the one person who stuck with me did.
By the time of graduation, I felt vindicated. By then, all the people who I had thought were my friends had sought me out and apologized. And everyone else involved, even those who were your closest friends, had given me to understand that they felt you'd gone too far. I think it would be interesting, now, to see a video of the band banquet. More than anything else, that was where I first learned to project what I wanted others to see, long enough to almost believe it. I still do it best when there's someone I want to prove something to.
I wonder, a little, if the fallout from all of that is what changed you from the potential you had into what you became. But I suspect that is too much ego on my part. I merely regret that I gave so much of my time to you.
You hurt me so deeply, so thoroughly, that it took me years to recover. It took years before I stopped discovering triggers in myself that set me off because of what happened. Some of them would probably still set me off, if they hadn't been superceded, or reinforced by something more recent so that I no longer think of you.
Because of you, and your actions, I built walls around myself, walls so interwoven that I almost never let someone past them all. Because of you, I worry about what people say behind my back, and whether I'm going to find myself suddenly outcast again. Because of you, I fear to admit to anyone, even myself, if I am attracted to someone. Because of you, I learned how to look straight through someone as if they weren't there. Because of you, I will most likely always have a little niggling doubt of myself, my perceptions, and my actions.
In some ways, because of you I started this whole damn project in the first place. I wrote part of this years ago. I have needed to have my say. Somehow, I don't think this is going to clear out the last of the ghosts and demons either. You'll be haunting me forever.
The worst of it is, for all that I hated you for a time, and have continued to resent you even after managing to forgive you (and myself - I did listen to Jake), I can't pretend not to know what I saw in you. When I look at pictures, or think back on the old times, I remember exactly what I was attracted to. I remember all the little things that I would rather forget, so you could be just an asshole in my memory. I can't even say I wouldn't fall for or date someone like you, because sober reflection tells me that I have.
The smell and feel of early fall and back-to-school is bittersweet for me. I think of marching band, and inevitably of the good and the bad. Even the joys of new semesters at college couldn't erase that. The humidity fades, and the temperature starts to drop, and the leaves start to change... and I look for my white marching band shoes, and listen to hear the drum line.