So, there’s a girl I’ve known for essentially my entire life. We were born within months of each other, our mothers were best friends, and even though her family lived in Florida and mine in the yawn-inducing valleys of Nowheresville, Pennsylvania, we kept in touch throughout our childhoods and met up every summer for some of the hands-down best times of my life. (Seriously, there were curtain-rod lightsabers involved, and if you don’t think that’s awesome, there’s something wrong with you.)
We were both writers and Star Wars nerds, lovers of fantasy, sci-fi, gaming, and all things glorious and dorky. When it came time for college, she decided to apply to the same university I was going to so we could finally spend more than just a few weeks together at a time. We became roommates, and though the close quarters ended up being a bit too much for us, we still had some great times amid the inevitable fights and silly college drama.
She was the one who got me interested in a wonderful little anime called Fushigi Yuugi, which I then spent the next several years of my college life writing obsessive fanfiction about. Through that fanfiction, I met three other writers – Kris, Roku, and Emily – who all, coincidentally (and unknown to any of us at that time), lived in the Chicago area. The four of us were like sisters from the start, and so when graduation came, I ended up moving to Chicago so I could be closer to them.
Emily got me into another anime called Prince of Tennis (it’s probably exactly as cheesy as you’re imagining, but it also happens to be magnificent), which led – through a variety of other twists and turns – to my eventually moving to Japan, living there for four years, and then finally moving back to Chicago to be the self-employed ESL Tutor and tea-addicted writer I am now.
Tracing it all back, I owe everything in my life today to that girl, and probably a lot more. My life is far from perfect (a little more cash flow would be nice, for instance), but I’m pretty happy with it overall, and it’s because of her that I am where I am today.
But here’s the thing: Because that girl decided to go to a college she never would’ve considered if I hadn’t been going there, she ended up meeting a guy and eventually marrying him. And marrying him, as it turned out, ended up ruining her life. He was, to put it most accurately and scientifically, an evil, abusive asshole, and when they finally divorced a few years later, she was shattered. She fell apart, attempted suicide, started drinking heavily, and now is lying in the hospital with acute liver failure at the age of 32.
And I keep thinking back and wondering what might’ve happened to her if she hadn’t decided to go to the same college I was going to, if she hadn’t met that awful guy and fallen for him (and/or thought she couldn’t do any better), if she had gone to some other school and met someone who might’ve actually been willing to see her for the brilliant, funny, awesome person she is.
We’ll never know, but it doesn’t quite seem fair that her influence on my life was to send me on a path rich with friends and interesting places, while my influence on hers was to shoot her straight into the path of Hitler, Part II: Abusive Spouse Edition.
Funny how life goes, isn’t it?