Kara is one of those girls whose name is always prefaced with ‘that.’
“She’s becoming like that Kara girl.” “I just don’t know what’s going to happen to that girl.” “You’re friends with that Kara?”
Yes I am friends with her. Well I was.
Kara had been my friend since the days we sent each other Harry Potter parchment notes. We stayed friends through high school. But my friends were people who though Franz Ferdinand was an Archduke, and her friends thought it a band.
Eventually our differences began to crack the friendship. She thought I was insufferably stuck up and judgemental. I just didn’t understand how she could be happy with clubbing, drinking, and flunking.
I was old enough to be judgemental, and young enough to lack empathy. It was awful. Looking back I know that her lifestyle was a way of trying to escape. She turned to partying, petty drama and sleeping around to get the attention she missed out on at home.
But my 15 year old self was too young to understand that. I just thought she was lazy and possibly a bad person for me to be seen with.
So I made an effort to drift from her. But at 15 we were still close enough for me to be introduced to her new boyfriend.
If I described him as quiet, that would be misleading. Quiet implies some introspective intellectual activity. This guy didn’t talk because the only thing in his head was a grunt when he was hungry or horny. He was a petty thug, wore tasteless clothes and spoke in mono syllables because words of more than three letters were too hard.
As you can see, I thought he was divine.
And being young, and full of the moral certainty that brings, I decided he was the final proof I needed to label her A Rotten Apple. I stopped talking to her.
He cemented my belief that she was the sort of person who I shouldn’t be hanging around with. One of that crowd. That kind of girl. That Kara.
Now that I’m 19, my self-absorption has dimmed to a level that lets me think about others. I have learned to be empathetic. And now that I can put myself in her shoes, I realise what I should have known at 15.
She’s not one of those girls.
The boyfriend isn’t proof of anything, except a girl who was never loved properly. Because when I put myself in her situation, I realise that she is fundamentally scarred by the relationship she has with her Dad.
Her Dad’s attitude to her is disinterested at best; vindictive at worst. So because she needed to fill that gap where her Dad should be, she found the first man available. Ironically, he’s the mirror image of her Dad.
But at 15, instead of thinking she was someone who needed love and help, I just saw her as riffraff.
We don’t talk now, it’s been too long, but I watch her life from cyberspace.
I hate looking at it. She could have been brilliant. Instead she’s stuck with a toe rag. He’ll never realise the effect he has on her, because he thinks that self-reflection is taking a selfie.
And what’s worse, is I could have helped her. I could have stayed friends, comforted her, told her she was worth so much more than him and the life he sucked her into. But I didn’t.
I’m so sorry Kara. I’m so sorry I couldn’t put myself into your skin. I can now. But I’m afraid it’s too late…