Her name was Sandra and there is really only a single way to describe her movement through life. If I had to name it; I mean if I had to put a finger to it, match it to my frame of reference and then commit, it would be to say that she was aggressively indisposed. Yes, that she courted illness as a confidant; an ally doubling as a weapon, aimed toward anyone attempting familiarity with her.
You see, she was beautiful. Not beautiful in the sense of ethereal captured in marble, or the boldness of old Hollywood glamour. She was soul beautiful. She carried herself with a strength that enveloped you, made you want to dance in the depths of who she was. There was a non-conformity that raised her beyond the height others, her luminescence as independent as a crashing wave in a sea of blue. From afar, people could read her glowing message, translating and interpreting it based on their own personal history and requirements. It was easy to do, it was a reaction, much the same as returning a smile to a stranger.
The issue with Sandra was that whoever you decided she was, whatever in her you believed you could or could not be a part of, she retracted it from view the closer you got. On the days where she appeared softer, you would find a hardness in her interactions. On the days she presented as determined, you would see frailty cloud her the minute you came too close. The nearer you were the more her perceived strength or weakness faded, like an optical illusion based primarily on proximity.
Sandra was the only person I ever knew to flow so smoothly between reduction and expansion. Subconsciously, she armoured herself with such an aggressive strategy of distance, it was shocking she could not see it. To be friends with her meant to be dragged for the first mile of any conversation through a series of illnesses she was either recovering from, or currently experiencing. And if it wasn’t her, it was her kin or some other person on the outskirts of her immediate circle. Her indisposition was never gentle; never a headache, sprained wrist or even menstrual pain. Always the ailment was a plague that might spread and multiply to anyone who dared break the force field of her life. It was measles, gastrointestinal viruses, flu, eye infections, skin rashes. The closer you got, it seemed, the higher the risk to your own mortality.
For most, the subconscious or overt strategies used to test, stretch or end friendships are of the more common garden variety; not answering calls, delayed responses to messages, being repeatedly late. It’s these micro-signals that say what is unspoken; you are not a priority, I’m not changing for your comfort, our time is worth this much. Not with Sandra. There were some occasions when one simply wanted to speak with her, to check-in, to speak lightly about about life. It was the foray into these small avenues of friendship where people sought hope for something larger; hope that for one day, the implied threat to life and toxicity that she presented might briefly recede. It didn’t.
So this is how it played out; her friends stopped calling, stopped offering invitations, stopped sharing their own selves. Ultimately, they reduced their previous capacity of unlimited care, amidst her constant squandering of it.
Her choice, to always be aggressively indisposed meant the space around her grew larger, as she lamented constantly and on a conscious level how she needed more friends. What she could not see was that the friends she truly hankered after were those who were not interested in her strength or individuality. For some unknowable reason, these companions she lusted over were the ones who too saw her glow, but whom were disquieted by it and so rejected her immediately. In their vicinity she was at her most comfortable, nestled and nurtured in the solid archetype of victim.
Who knows, perhaps it was those others who truly saw her; perhaps it was us who were wrong and her individuality was the ruse. It could be said even, that her existence was a mirror of sorts, reflecting whatever the onlooker most needed to see in their own life. The tragedy of this is that mirrors are so easily broken, and somewhere in her heart, she believed she already was.