Libby and I met around age 14 and became inseparable, two refugees searching for a comrade. We devoured and endlessly discussed adult fiction, made our own clothes (everything had to have fringe), rescued animals, and got into trouble but never hurt anybody. We were used to taking care of ourselves—I think we were born tiny adults, like a couple precocial quail chicks. Libby lived with her parents who were always at each other’s throats, and a sister who was mean as a snake. We had a lot in common. Maybe fewer cops showed up at her house, and maybe she never had most of her hair ripped out, but her sister once dented a silver tray on poor Lib’s head.
We were sort of pre-Goth. We walked or hitchhiked everywhere, stayed out all night, got on buses to New York or Boston—we had a lot of freedom in those days and neither of us wanted to go home. In 9th grade my mother sent to me to a Catholic girls’ school to break us up but it didn’t work, we met every day after school. I lasted a year there, then went back to regular high school where we somehow made it through together. After high school I bummed around the US for a year by myself, but when I came back it was like I never left. We moved in together and shared clothes, money, boyfriends. We drove around the country whenever we had time off, exploring back roads from New England to Appalachia. No cell phones, computers, video games, VCR, or cable TV. No answering machine or microwave. Instead, we worked, read, traveled, camped, partied, danced, and talked to each other nonstop.
When we were 23 Libs met a guy and fell in love, got pregnant, married, and moved to a southern state for his job. It all happened so fast—I cried and cried, grieving in a way I had never experienced before. The day I watched Lib’s old Dodge that had carried us on so many adventures disappear into a grey blur, I knew I would have to learn to be a friend to myself. It took many years and many mistakes.
I visited Libs but the magic was gone, she was now a devoted wife and mother but a stranger to me—in all the years we spent together we never once fantasized about getting married or having kids. I wrote letters, she didn’t answer. I never saw her again. Her kids are grown up now, maybe she’s even a grandmother. But the Libby years are still sacred—I still dream about her and I’m thankful for what we had, as I believe she saved my life.
Note: The name is changed but the story is true, written as therapy and maybe just to set it free.