It was an interesting experience, because I was aware in the moment of what was happening. I told myself, "You're not twelve anymore. You can wrestle your turn back." So I made my own bold assertions, pulled out my own wit, met her on her level, and planted my feet respectably in the conversation.
It was just one evening that I really met her, but I felt a lingering bitterness toward her, for what she'd done to me, for how she made me feel. She had a stoner's face. She was full of hot air. Wherever there was a realness to her, it was buried so deep that I wasn't sure she remembered how to find it.
For a year, I shriveled when I saw her at social events. We joked about her mercilessly. I had a scale: at one end was this girl, at the far end was your typical decent human being.
But then I found a corner of the internet that belonged to her. It surprised me in every way. It was thoughtful, original, and real. There was pain, there was exultation, there was quiet resolve. I consumed it tirelessly.
The triumph of the discovery was that of finding a real person, not a caricature or a character. I could see her heart--I could almost touch it. If I could, I would have hugged it.
To this girl: I am sorry. It's so amazing that everyone is really a real person when you actually look.