Richard Marx and Fair-weather Friends

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By guest blogger Noemi Martinez, a poet-curandera and writer with Mexican and Caribbean roots living in South Texas. Her poem and photo collection South Texas Experience: Love Letters can be purchased on Hermana Resist Press’ website. You can also read her previous guest blog on selfie sticks.

When was the first time a friend broke up with you?

Lyrics for Endless Summer Nights-Richard Marx:

For me, it was the last day of school in the fifth grade. Before the end of the day, my best friend told me when we came back in the fall for the beginning of our 6th grade year, she wouldn’t be my best friend anymore. She brought a cookbook from home that day to give me, and I spent the summer learning how to make peanut-butter blondies and petit fours.

She knew I loved to bake, but I guess didn’t understand how heart broken I’d be coming into the sixth grade – an awkward tall girl who sneezed too much and was too much for their ex-best friend.

I had only been in Texas a few years and had finally learned how to remove the small things that showed everyone I was an outsider from my vocabulary and pronunciations.  I’d traded the word “ax” for “ask,” stopped saying pop for soda, and learned that bathroom was just gross to say.  I was still an outsider. We all were outsiders though, those of us that bought our school clothes at secondhand stores before it became hip and those of us that were given vouchers to buy one ugly coat from the county.

I was always very sick. Moving from Chicago to South Texas activated my immune system into what I now call a super-immune system. I would get sick before the move; I remember visiting doctors in Chicago where they had to do procedures without anesthesia because we were low income. But everything that I was allergic to increased when we moved from the urban neighborhood I had called home in Chicago, to the rural area with fields and lush greenery – and I was allergic to it all.

That summer, I had grown close to a group of girls who were like me: poor, nerdy, bookworms who wore second-hand clothes and were picked on by others for the same reasons kids pick on other kids year after year. But it wasn’t meant to be and I survived, got into a few fights, and eventually settled into bookworm status again.

Lyrics for Don’t Mean Nothin’-Richard Marx:

Recently, friends went out of my life after a most difficult time in my personal life as we went through some pretty life changing health scares. Just like we often don’t make conscious decisions on who ends up being our friends, we can’t change when friends feel they are no longer part of the flow of a friendship. We are often left wondering if we were too much.

When you are a crip/chronically sick person with anxiety, asking of friends always makes one feel like a burden. We second guess ourselves and wonder, “have I asked too much? Have I exhausted their capacity for feeling compassion?”

It’s a strange place to be, especially if you are part of communities that are considered progressive or intersectional. Does this happen to other crips? Yes, and I also know we want to blame ourselves and say that we might have been too much for friends to handle and whatever hardships we were going through at the time translated to a big giant RUN sign for friends who can’t handle much.

I want to remind myself and other crip/disabled folks, the fault is not ours.

I want to repeat this over and over because when this happens again, I’ll want to blame myself.

The fault is not ours.

Lyrics to Right Here Waiting-Richard Marx:

This summer, I have been mourning the friendships of summers past that have ended when I was too sick to be considered a friend, or when my family had too many accessibility needs.

I am mourning the times and places where there was happiness and laughter, and I know that somewhere in our memories, a fondness still exists for those connections. But I can also see how this ghosting of relationships and friendships when I needed friends the most is not something I will easily forget.

Lyrics to Should’ve Known Better-Richard Marx:

But I also can see how, when those friends burned through our relationships and weren’t there for me, I’ve made other connections and other friends were able to connect and met our family in the ways that we needed. Countless ways that I probably wouldn’t ever be able to express, friends met us where we needed it. I guess you can say I’m at the acceptance step in mourning friendships. I appreciated those small memories where we might have had something in common, understanding that there is a lingering sadness – but like those summers, I can’t hold on to them.

Lyrics to Hold On to the Nights-Richard Marx:

*I wrote about our summer of Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis here.

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