Both Bill and Rachel are still, amazingly, in my life. Thankfully Bill didn’t die and did get clean from heroin. And thankfully, my teenage love for him quickly transformed into that of the brother/sister variety soon after that night on my porch. After a stint in rehab he lived on the streets of Huntington Village until an order of protection was lifted and he could go back home. Somehow he managed to avoid the places and people who he once used with. He spent his days hanging out on a bench next to a pay phone in a Waldbaums parking lot and at night I would pick him up from there and drive him to a shelter. His ability to get clean and stay clean even while being homeless was proof to me that all of those years I maintained hope for him were not for nothing.
About a year after he stopped using, after another break-up with another girlfriend, he decided to move to Portland with some of the more positive people in his life. I wholeheartedly supported this. Getting off of Long Island, away from the people, the drama, and the memories, was exactly what he needed.
As an adult you begin to realize and appreciate that there are people in life who, no matter how far away they are and no matter how long you go without talking, will always be there. Just like family. Bill is one of those people. He may live far away and I may only talk to him a couple times a year but he will forever be my crazy brother and I will always carry a place for him in my heart.
After Warner, Rachel and I found ourselves both strangely on similar paths to recovery (and relapse). Rachel wound up in a drug treatment center in California at the same time I was in Chestnut. Shortly after I got out I decided to take a trip out west to see her. She was still staying at a Sober Living apartment and I was fresh out of a hospital with no idea what I was doing. At the time I had thought the visit went great, but at the end of it I think it was too soon and too much for either of us to handle. When I got home our communication stopped almost completely. We both had to go through whatever shit we needed to go through in order to grow up, but I knew eventually we would be back in each others lives again. Our connection was too strong for us not to be. About five years after that first visit, my husband and I were going out to LA for a few days. I contacted Rachel immediately. We were both at a much more stable point in our lives and I knew that this was the perfect time to re-connect. I wanted to know her as an adult and I was excited for her to meet Ben and see me for the first time since I had lost the weight.
Because we were only in town for a couple of days the only way we were able to see her was to meet on her lunch break at the department store where she worked. When the day came, I was so nervous I could barely dress myself, tossing outfit after outfit on the floor of the rental we were staying in. Which, to be honest, is pretty much what happens every time I get dressed. We got to the mall a half an hour early. While we walked around killing time I checked myself out, unhappily, in every store front window we passed. My inner fat girl voice always loves to show up at the most inopportune times. After thirty anxiety filled minutes I spotted Rachel from across the mall sitting on a bench and smoking a cigarette. Her face lit up when she saw us and as soon as I heard her familiar voice all of my nerves eased. I was immediately comfortable and in mere seconds we were cracking up and sharing our present lives with each other. My old friend was still there and talking to her felt like no time had passed.
Due to time restraints we were only able to catch up for about an hour, but it was one of the greatest most relieving hours I can remember. Our friendship since the day we met has been effortless and filled with so much love. We have both had to be warriors in our own lives and fight hard fights. And we both managed to come out survivors with some skills to match the wounds we are desperately trying to heal. She was and is the one friend who can completely understand what I have gone through and I am so grateful to still have her in my life. When it was time for her to go back to work we hugged and promised to visit each other, next time we’d spend more time, and this time we wouldn’t let five years pass. In May of 2013 Ben and I officially moved to Los Angeles. Finally, almost ten years after we first met, she and I live in the same city. A lot of really amazing things came out of my time at Warner, but out of all of them Rachel remains my favorite.