Clare was my only girl crush. As the oddest girl out, she outranked me. I guess that’s why we became fast friends. There wasn’t anyone she could admire and follow around, so why not take on a sidekick.
She had one foot in punk and the other in reality. Living on her own since she was sixteen, she knew it was wise to disguise her true and unusual passions to get by in the world. The only evidence of her love for all things Johnny Rotten was that she wore more eyeliner than the rest of us.
She lived in a teeny tiny studio apartment. One wall was a kitchen, another was a bathroom door, across from that a full size mattress, and oh… did I mention the exit? There wasn’t a need for a closet. She owned a long quilted coat, a black jumper, a pair of blue jeans, sneakers, and two shirts. I don’t recall where she stashed her underwear, if she had any. I never actually looked.
Clare rarely spoke of family and never mentioned friends. I knew she hated her dad, and that he was the reason she struck without on her own without protests from the home front. Working hard to support herself, Claire never finished high school, but she was streetwise and knowledgeable about a variety of academic and literary subjects because she liked to read.
We worked together in the only ice cream shop, I know of that served liquor, so waitresses had to be eighteen or older. She was nineteen. I was seventeen with a fake ID, and had just broken up with my fiancé when we met.
Most of my “friends” at the time were from a prestigious Catholic girl’s school. You know, the girls that get pregnant and hide out with an out of state relative till the baby’s born, but look down on girls who had more than one boyfriend in high school, like me. Claire gave them something to talk about besides me, and that was great.
One of the main things Clare and I had in common was curiosity. Before venturing out for the night, we would lie on her mattress, smoking cigarettes, contemplating our bucket list as a couple. A lot of the things we wanted to do just weren’t safe for a single girl, so we did them together.
We went to 42nd Street in the days before Disney, and took in live sex shows, peeps, and some of the nastiest porn imaginable that involved ponies, chickens, and human blood. After awhile, we realized the carnival like atmosphere was more amusing than arousing, and moved on to the surreal circus at Coney Island.
Other odd adventures were scarier. Clare knew of mobster that was always looking for hot hookers. We thought it might be fun to see if we made the cut. We were allowed to approach the DOM’s table where he pulled Clare down and whispered something to her, she nodded. Then we were laughed out of the bar, and told that between the two of us, our breasts wouldn’t fill a shot glass. That night still disturbs me for a variety of reasons.
Well, it was bound to happen. My boss found out that I doctored up my license, but he told me to come back in a month when I was really eighteen. I decided to take a little vacation, and went to St Thomas. Being totally alone for the first time ever, I did a lot of soul searching as I watched cruise ships come and go from the waterfront landings of Charlotte Amalie.
I realized that our bucket list was getting empty, and there was one place that we never ventured, but I sometimes thought about as we lay on the bed smoking cigarettes. After some serious thought, I came to the conclusion that I just had an idolatrous crush, and now some twenty or more years later, I’m certain that’s all it was. Yet at the time, I decided to something brave to escape the lure of Clare. I decided to stay in St Thomas.
About a year later, I returned home for a biopsy. A specific cancer ran in my family, and I had a lump. Since my parents were in the middle of a move, and staying at a hotel, I decided to recover from the surgery at my best friend’s house.
Clare was still in the tiny studio. When I knocked on her door out of the blue, she took me back even though I never contacted her that entire year. She had a boyfriend by then and we did a lot of reminiscing in front of him. Then one morning, she left for work, and I decided I was ready to go.
I went back to St Thomas and never saw Clare again. By the time I moved back home, she was gone without a trace. All I knew was that she just didn’t show up for work one day, and much to her landlord’s annoyance, she stopped paying rent and left all her stuff in the apartment.
I really hope my girl Clare is out there living large in some Mc Mansion with someone that loves her very much.
Claire’s name has been changed.