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Be friends and don't care about the rest

Everglade's picture

That Leah and Keisha became best friends seems a result of some accidents: Keisha saved Leah from drowning in the pool, and later “a dramatic event” when they confronted Nathan Bogle together. Would they become good friends if these didn’t happen? I guess so. Caldwell is a small community. If not these two exact things, there’s still a great chance that something else dramatic might happen between them. Bought the same dresses and wore them to school on the same day. Or ran into each other on the street and one fell really bad and another accompanied her to the hospital. A lot of things that can possibly bond them as life-long best friends. On the other hand, they must’ve had this sort of interesting encounters with many other people as well. But they became best friends with each other, Leah and Keisha, so that’s not a coincidence, but a choice.


Their childhood friendship was “based on verb rather than nouns”. They liked each other because they spent plenty of time together and did fun things. That’s more like playmates. To me, true friends like each other not because they do fun things together, but because they appreciate each other, the person’s personalities and intelligence and passions. And even when they do boring things like waiting for a bus for an hour or studying all day, they don’t feel dull because each one is a delight to the other.


And I’m just wandering in my own mind, if by any chance, Leah and Keisha didn’t become best friends, what would it be like between them? The two little girls had quite opposite personalities. Leah befriended everybody, and would love to try sex and drugs. She was one of those “popular” kids. Keisha was quiet, and like to be alone and read, and parents and teacher praised her as a good kid who would achieve something—the kind of “nerds” who easily become the subject of bully. I’m not saying the Leah would bully Keisha, because Leah is nice to everybody, but it is obvious that they would develop into very different persons.


And they did. They had a cooling down for a year and a half after Keisha’s mother forced them apart. Would this cooling down happen without Marcia’s intervention? Yes, it was inevitable. The two girls had already grown different, and besides merely playing, other things began to occupy their lives, like academics and boys. The cooling down was “partly a pragmatic decision on Keisha Blake’s part” during A-level exams. Keisha felt alienated, and that she had no “personality” except being “Leah’s friend”. They held contrasting opinions on things; had different interests; wanted to employ their time differently with their individual emphasis; they might argue.


When they became friendly again before college, they have unmistakably diverged in their life patterns. Leah was dating a bass player in a band, certainly rebelling and indolent. While Keisha and her boyfriend Rodney, who “thought life was a problem that could be solved by means of professionalization”, were going to law school together. Their sex was like “technical transition”, during which Keisha only learned facts about condoms. This was not what Keisha wanted, if given free choice—well the lawyer part was but the sex part wasn’t—but what her mother imposed on her to help her back on the right track, to become a religious, decent black women with not much ambition.


Then, college. A time for dangerous thrilling life-changing experiments. Leah dressed as a “dirty blonde warrior for the planet”, and Keisha changed her name to Natalie, a name that sounded intelligent and successful to her, a change necessary in her upward movement to a barrister and a robot.


Leah hated the robot. When Natalie invited Leah to have dinner with bankers and lawyers and told Leah’s rather personal and embarrassing anecdote as to illustrate some opinion on socio-economic situation and please her guests, Leah felt dreary and dead. Natalie worried about Leah. She didn’t say it, but when she quarreled with her sister Cheryl, saying she was always trying and reaching and had goals and achievements, while her family was negative and didn’t want to have better lives, she definitely categorized Leah in the negative part, who was content to stay where they were and to never change.


Do they still like each other? Have they ever really liked each other? Do they still bring happiness to each other, or unease or even contempt? What keeps them together when they’ve become very different and don’t like each other? These questions I really can’t answer, because with so many years gone by and so many things happened between them, I can’t just generalize their emotions with simply “like” or “don’t like”. Friends of such long time became a family, or fuse into one person. There’s no way that they would let go of their beautiful memories, or leave when they have become so dependent on each other. I hate myself sometimes, but I wouldn’t give up on her because I feel responsible to her.


And that’s why when Natalie had a mental breakdown because she had an unhappy marriage and thought of suicide and, at that particular moment, lost her children, and Michel called to tell her Leah’s breakdown, Natalie instantly picked herself up and went save Leah. Again, like she saved her from the swimming pool in the first place.