Red Roses & Black Ribbons

I don’t believe in love.  I believe that romantic love or sexual or even lustful love is the most fallible and unreliable and therefore, weakest forms of love.  What I do believe in with all my heart is the love shared and nurtured between friends and the perennial stability and strength of the love between true friends.

It is said that friends are the family you choose yourself (Edna Buchanan paraphrased).  They’re not bound to you by DNA or RNA but emotionally, logically and understandably, they are bound to you by their actions and love.  I am both blessed and burdened (as most people are) by my friends.  I have two friends – two best friends – whom God gave me when I was very young because he knew I’d need brothers to carry me through my formative years and beyond.  Ben and Matt have stuck by me through thick and thin and this article is my homage to them and a meditation on my longest friendships to date and the only ones I depend on to remain constant.  The others can fade and fluctuate for all I care!  My life would be in no more danger than it is from day-to-day should those friendships run their course but as I often tell them, I would not be able to stomach living in a world that didn’t have my Ben and my Matt in it.

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Left to Right: Ben, Matt, Pippa (The Golden Trio)

Let me kick off properly by explaining why I suddenly have the urge to pen this article.  I have just finished reading a Harry Potter fanfiction called Premonition (https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5710296/1/Premonition) that is Harry-Hermione centric.  The premise is that Harry has a nightmare in which his female best friend is felled during the Battle of Hogwarts and from there a romance blooms.  The particularly poignant part for me that instigated the whirlwind of thoughts leading to this article was:

‘”I told you, I told you they’d be after you,” he shouted at her, his voice anguished. “Oh God, come back, come back,” he pleaded with her, hugging her tight against his chest, his chin on top of her head, his eyes closed, and Ron noticed his glasses were broken. But he had no one to fix them. Hermione always did that. Would he never get them fixed then? “I don’t know what to do without you. I don’t know. I don’t know,” he murmured, sounding rather insane with his grief. He pulled her up closer, dragging her until he had all of her in his arms, his hand buried in her thick curls, his face pressed against hers, cheek to cheek. “I love you. I love you. You’re supposed to live! You were the only one… You were the only one I couldn’t lose.” He shook his head, crying against her, his arm tightening around her to be almost crushing.

“I can’t do it without you, I can’t do it,” Harry told her, shaking his head and exhaling a big whoosh of shaky air. “You promised, you promised, you said… Hermione,” he pleaded, pulling her close again, his face pressed down into her shoulder.’

See, I have had many nights (and days – many thanks, O God of Insomnia!) of vivid and frightening nightmares in which either I die in Matt’s arms or one/both of them die in mine and I am left behind to grieve.  So, you can see that it is not the development of the Harry-Hermione friendship into amour that drew me in, but the intrinsic similarity Potter’s dream had to my own.

Ben and Matt wrote my school yearbook entry way back in 2011 and in it they call me their Hermione, so I’ll share with you a brief extract of their writing as well as fanfiction.net user Shadrac’s which is featured above.

For Matt and I, she [Pippa] also fulfills her role as Hermione, forever correcting us on our grammar (in English AND Latin!) and telling us it really is “leviOsa” not “levioSA”.

Hermione Jean Granger is bookish, overbearing and pedantic but she is also loyal to a fault, smart, someone who fixes things and the person in the lives of Ron and Harry who will give up anything precious to her in order to protect them.  It was therefore flattery and exaggeration on Ben and Matt’s part to say that I am capable of fulfilling the role of the female third of the Golden Trio.  It is definitely true that I love them to a fault and that that affection breaks my heart constantly but I don’t have her Gryffindor spunk or selflessness to sacrifice all for them.  I used to be that way when I was a better person and an infinitely better friend but now I struggle to show or give them the love they deserve without lusting after emotional recompense and a bit of love exhibited or said from them to me in return.  The source of my heartache as far as my relationships with Ben and Matt are concerned is that I always expect too much from them and that I love them far more than they love me.

This is no insult to them whatsoever.  For them to reciprocate my feelings on the same level and with the same intensity, they would have to eschew their social life, their sanity and their hearts for me.  I would wish the same paltry existence as me on nobody but me because I have done some truly evil things in my life and I deserve this!  Their lives are still whole and full and just being lived so it’s better that I exist and they live than us all just existing.

There is no room for romantic love in my heart because I’ve filled that sector with the pair of them.  I have no desire or need to enter into that kind of love because it isn’t physically possible for me to replace or oust the people in my heart who keep me relatively glued together and able to look to the future with a lesser and more volatile relationship.  This is fundamentally why, if I were to lose either – or God and Heaven forbid, both – of them, I simply would have half my heart painfully scraped out and the world would be filled with red roses with black ribbons.

My godbrother, Tim Pruss' grave, with the red rose with a black ribbon tied round the stem that I leave when I visit graves

My godbrother, Tim Pruss’ grave, with the red rose with a black ribbon tied round the stem which I always leave when I visit graves

So when I have the horrific night terrors, I come out the other side praying that they both live full, happy lives in perfect health and survive long enough to help my kids (their godchildren) plan my funeral.

As you might have inferred by now, I am both easy and complicated.  It does not take much to keep me happy or away from a fatal overdose – that makes me an easy person – however finding the real me to keep happy underneath the brittle layers and behind the adamantium-enforced walls is a complex task to say the least and only two people have ever managed it.  Nobody else has ever given enough of a damn to attempt to scale the walls or mine through the layers and that is why nobody else whom I have ever called a friend occupies a room in the sacred inner sanctum of my always broken and breaking heart with Ben and Matt.

Finally, I will say that all I need and will ever need is for them to not forget that I depend on them to reside in my heart until it stops beating and to think of me as the girl they made into their woman (in a kind of Pygmalion-esque way…) who needs them to remember how much I adore them, am loyal to them and rely on them.  I need to be their Hermione in order to feel wanted, loved and fruitful in life but not so much as I need them to need me to be their Hermione.  It’s pathetic (I know) but the world would be a better and safer place if people just communicated how they felt and other people were receptive to the information.

That’s my worldview anyway, so make of all this what you will, but love your friends because the truest of them whom you love unconditionally have the power to save – and make – your life over and over and over.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

01-10-2014

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