There are many ways to see how far we’ve come. How far we have evolved. One of those ways, is through the ones closest to us. Our friendships.
Recently, I purchased original art from a friend of mine in Seattle. A talented artist with creativity one can only admire. Creativity that I’ve witnessed in dance classes growing up, heard in theater productions in school, and now literally own, in the manifest of 4 individual prints. Her name is Hallie.
Hallie lives in Seattle. A choreographer of a dance company & movement collaborative, print artist, and social advocate. I admire her passion in all that she does. We met at a program where we grew up in the small city of Yakima Washington. Company 7, A program that nurtured elementary students who showed potential in art and creative mindset. A small magnet program that let selected students a day out of the week to develop skills through painting lessons, plays, sculpting, and conversations to propel interest. A program that let creative children learn and grow into themselves without pressures from the majority of less sensitive children around them. I was not liked in this program due to my own social arrogance. Hallie however, was meek, sweet, and well liked. She wore big glasses that I remember made her eyes look huge. She had flaxen hair that I remember being in a pony tail always. We didn't talk much, as she went to Company 7 on Fridays. I went on Mondays.
Fast forward what feels like a lifetime: high school. The awkwardness of adolecense is slowly easing away, while a sudden transformation into a phase of complete self assuredness, or at least, pretending to be. A phase defined by outward expressions of feeling stuck, ready to leave, restrained, yet inside, feeling confusion and uncertainty. I re-met Hallie at dance classes. I recognized her instantly. I can’t remember how or when, (tat all seems like a blur) but we clicked. We became friends again. I like to think that maybe she saw through my arrogance and befriended me to show that she cared. She is in all, that kind of person, one who cares. However, truthfully, she probably befriended me to make my obnoxious ballet obsessed self more tolerable. Either way, we got along fine. She was the only one who knew me. She was the only one who I felt believed in me on a level of peers.
As adults, we became distant. It’s natural. She went to college, made friends who became her family, her rocks. I still had youthful jealousy at that time. Wrongfully I had turned our friendship into a therapist/client vibe. Which, never ends well. When it became too much for her, and too much for myself, I felt the same feelings of a breakup. I did not know how to share then, and my ability to manipulate and guilt trip became apparent. We went our seperate ways without really saying anything. I still feel the regret of how one sided our friendship was. I can only hope that she knows how much I thank her for loving me.
It’s been years. We have made amends since then. And as friends do, she let my boyfriend and myself stay in her house on our last visit to Washington State. An act of kindness I won’t forget.
In reconnecting with her briefly, I noticed she has changed. She didn’t seem as thrilled. She didn't seem as eager to laugh. I felt welcomed, but not enjoyed. I felt like the old racist uncle that you have to host at thanksgiving. I felt that we couldn’t talk about the weather without it somehow getting to social advocacy. It was strange to me. I was so looking forward to showing her how I have changed. Living in New York has only taught me that my thirst for life in all its interests, glamour, and skills is not a bad thing. I thought I could connect with anyone! I have conversations with the Bangladeshi man at my bodega, I went to a beauty school with orthodox Jewish girls, one of my best friends is black and trans, my boyfriend is from Long Island! Surely I can make ANYONE laugh! -
Not with her. I got awkward silences, side eyes and rushed checks. I even had to remind them that I was Mexican American myself.
My thought of showing her how much I have grown. How I like to think of myself as more conscious now of others. How I can listen, and not just speak. -Had ultimately failed.
I forgot foolishly, that she has changed as well.
I don’t know her experiences that have shaped her to this point. I don’t know what she has gone through. What triumphs, hardships, loves gained, and friends lost. I know only glimpses through polite conversation, but not through witnessing or helping her through this. I wanted so bad to show her how much I am here for her and willing, no matter what. If she ever needed me. For a shoulder, or even just a tour of Central Park. I want to thank her endlessly for being there for me. A lonely, arrogant, abused, little Latin Gay boy in a small town she befriended.
Ultimately, I thought she seemed drained and sad. I felt myself wanting to ask what the hell was going on. But I didn’t because the guard of adulthood and boundaries had been set on since I turned 24.
The one thing I did notice is her art.
“I did this to get through my depression.” I heard her say to Jason. “These all have stories.”
“Why is this a bunny?”- I asked.
-“Oh, haha! That’s another story! Can you hold on a moment?”
After leaving Seattle, my experience with Hallie stayed with me. I used my experiences with our overnight there to a monologue for one of my party schticks. My only triumph was telling her that we stayed and hung out with her brother, who I stupidly picked on when we were young.
When my friends here in New York asked about my night in Seattle. I turned into my wannabe Larry David inspired comedy schtick (voice included)
“Oh my God! I could’t even say I didn’t like the girls lipstick without a reply lecture on feminism!”
“Isn’t it ironic that people in Seattle are so passionate about talking about race issues yet their entire city is mainly made of white and white passing, educated people?”
“They don’t even have matzah ball soup!”
This all aside, I went home with some new truths.
I may not know Hallie in the way that I once did. But I still love her like a sister.
I may not share her ideas, but I love that she gives a shit enough to think about them and voice them.
But we are both still alive.
I still have time to get to meet who has she become, if not through dinners and heat to hearts, through what she shows, makes, and creates.
This in itself speak a ton. Her art is her manifesto, and I am lucky enough to have that and learn from.
Thank You Hallie.
Hallie M Scott- Au Collective- Artist, Environmentalist, Consultant- email@example.com