Best Friends to Strangers

By Triniti Holt

Girl anxiously holding head

One friendship over the course of my life has been learning lessons to say the least. In middle school, I found my first serious friendship. We were best friends from 6th grade until the first year of high school. We were each other’s yin and yang, different, but also the same in so many ways. Aria and I grew so close to one another that if she missed school one day, I would be so sad that I would not know what to do with the rest of my day. Back then, I was quiet and shy, but Aria was confident and knew what she wanted, even if she could not have it. I always wanted the confidence Aria had when she danced for school functions or competitions, but I knew that was not for me. 

My family did not like Aria. 

She was boy-crazy and wanted everyone to be her friend. She wanted attention from everyone. When we spent time together with the other kids in school, I could tell from miles away that they were not genuine. Aria got her phone taken by her mom for having boyfriends in middle school, failing a class, talking back to a teacher, and fighting. She always found a way to text me… on either Pinterest or Snapchat- they were our other two best friends. We would text constantly until she got her phone back. 

During the summer break of 7th grade, I went to South Carolina with my mom when Aria got her phone taken again. I was playing Uno with my family as John Wick 2 was playing in the background when I heard my phone ringing. As the unknown number rang, I was cautious to not answer the first time. By the third ring, I picked up the phone. It was Aria. 

She was calling me from a payphone. 

Fear swept over me.

How could I help her from 523.6 miles away?

She got into a bad argument with her mom. Aria was the oldest out of her three siblings, so she was expected to do everything around the house without hesitation. She couldn’t take it anymore, so she ran away. Her mom called me, and then her dad. I had only ever talked to her dad four times, so I knew it was serious. Hours passed by, and I got another phone call. Her dad went to get her from a 7Eleven. She stayed with her dad 40 minutes away from where she used to live for some months. She was further away, but I knew it was best for her. 


The first year of high school was hard living far away from my best friend. I knew she would find friends fast with her outgoing confident energy. I had to accept that we would inevitably drift apart. Throughout the first quarter of the first year my cousin, Tamara, and Aria were beginning to bump heads over Instagram. Now, in the past, they have bumped heads here and there, but always remained friends (or at the very least, cordial). 

This time was different. 

When Tamara and I were young, our family had always taught us to be loyal to family because family comes first.

“You two have been together since birth. Out in this world, there will be people who will want what y’all have and try to break y’all apart,” said my aunt seriously.

“Exactly. Friends come and go, but family is always here for you when they leave and through anything else,” said my mom with sincerity in her eyes.

They convinced me that Aria was a bad person. I did not want to stop being friends with her, but I had to show that I had my cousin’s back. So, I ended the friendship.

It broke my heart. I could not bring myself to throw away our matching pink zip-up jackets or delete our pictures.

Lesson 1: It’s hard to throw away history.

That day, I knew that it would never be the same.


During quarantine, our second year in high school, I reached out to check on her. My palms were sweating as I waited for a response to see if she even wanted to talk to me. 

She did. She responded.

We were texting non-stop, and my heart was happy again. My family did not know how much our friendship meant to me, so I kept quiet until the day came for us to reunite.

I was so scared my mom would disapprove. To my surprise, she was not upset, but rather understanding. She found peace in knowing it wouldn’t last. As time went by, we continued talking all the way through senior year about graduation, colleges, relationships, the whole nine! It almost felt as if we never stopped talking.

This time had to be different.

No amount of time passed can stop a friendship that is meant to be from finding each other again and making amends… or so I thought.


We graduated! We did not have any homework to cram into our days. We no longer drove to school to sit in classrooms for almost 8 hours or stayed after for extracurricular activities for another 3 hours, so we decided to start hanging out. 

Lesson 2: Young adults can hang out without parental supervision. It was so much fun. 

Aria and I went out to eat and later went to our local harbor to walk around and talk until they closed at midnight. My curfew was at 12am, since I still lived with my mom. I had to leave soon to not get in trouble. Before we left the harbor, Aria asked if we could be best friends again. Before I could remember the lessons I learned months before, excitement flooded me. I could not have been happier to have my best friend back.

Aria’s mom owned a childcare center, and I was looking for a job. She instantly took me in. I loved the job! Seeing my best friend, friends, my cousin, and the children everyday made waking up at 6am and getting off at 7pm worth it. 

Lesson 3: I can be around children every day and thrive! 

Bossing people around and taking care of them became my strong suit when my little sister came into the world. I was a natural. One day, when I came into work later than normal, my cousin and Aria got into an argument again that lasted for weeks. It was the first stage of failure, again. I was caught off guard by the news I got while getting ready to go to work. 

My phone began ringing as my cousin and best friend were calling and texting me to tell me what happened. 

My heart was beginning to know what my brain was trying to signal. I got to work, and the energy of the environment was lifeless. Aria and I spoke about not letting things come in between us, but it failed, again. I tried to see all the sides of the conflict, but Aria did not like that. I saw Aria at work, but she did not speak to me. After that day, we did not speak. She did not come to work. I talked to her mom and her boyfriend, and they reassured me that it had nothing to do with our friendship.

When I got my paycheck, I noticed something was off. I worked overtime every day the week prior to payday, and my check was short… shorter than my cousin’s check, and they only worked every other day of the week. I contacted Aria’s mom, my boss, to professionally speak about it.

“Hello?” I was cautious to enter into the conversation.

“Hello, I am looking at the paystub and the hours that you worked match to the paycheck that you received. I have never shortened one of my employees! Ever!”

Caught off guard by the anger on the other end of the phone, it took me a while to respond.

“Well I thought my paycheck was wrong because I worked longer than Tamara, and her check is more than mine, so there must have been some kind of mishap.” I said pushing down the urge to yell back.

“I am so tired of your cousin and Aria’s drama, and now you come to me with this?! Really?! This is disrespectful! You, Tamara, Aria, and Aria’s boyfriend need to leave me out of whatever is going on! I opened my home to you, I let you work for me without having an interview because I knew you were a good person and would hopefully help Aria, but this is how I’m repaid?! You are so ungrateful!” She screamed.

 I was not expecting her mom to mention the situation with my cousin and Aria, her boyfriend, to call me ungrateful and disrespectful.

“It’s not like that at all – I only called about my paycheck and what is going on between your daughter and my cousin has nothing to do with me or this conversation! You realize that my friendship with your daughter ended without me being in the drama?!” I said, gripping my tone to remain peaceful.

 After trying to mediate the phone call and remain professional and respectful to keep my job, Aria’s mom tried to fire me. I was shocked by this.

I was calling to speak about my paycheck. 


It is the next day when Aria’s mom sent numerous messages saying how disappointed she was in me. I did not want to deal with her and the situation all over again, so I ignored her messages until I felt up to it.

“I am so disappointed in you. I thought better of you. Coming to your boss and accusing them of not giving you what you’re owed is offensive and I hope you learn a lot before entering the work field and going to college,” she said.

“My intention was never to offend you. I was asking for clarification because I was confused! But I am sorry if you felt that way. I never wanted to talk about my cousin nor your daughter because that is a completely different topic for another day. I came to you asking how to help Aria, and I listened to you, so for you to include me in their drama is beyond me. I have always been a good person, and still am a good person, so if you choose to fire me, please be clear and direct, so I know not to come back. I’ll thrive in the work field and in college- at least I know how to talk to people and separate personal matters with professionalism.” I said with anger boiling inside me.

After numerous messages of back and forth, I felt more dismayed and upset than ever. I lost my job and my best friend.

Lesson 4: No matter how hard you try to reason with people, no matter who they are, some people will not put their pride to the side and admit their wrong.


My mom, little sister, and I went to the zoo one day to get away from the drama and spend time with one another. My phone began ringing as my cousin and best friend were calling and texting me to tell me what happened. Again. 

Why couldn’t they just leave me out of it, and not make it worse?

Tamara told me that Aria was saying she wanted to fight her. She left threats on her phone. My cousin is known for not backing down, so she wanted to let me know if something else were to escalate from Aria’s threats. This is when I knew I had to put my family first.

“Aria, stop threatening my cousin, texting her, and coming to me about it. This had nothing to do with me, but now you are constantly telling her you want to fight. I won’t entertain this anymore. You’re not even a fighter, so I don’t know why you’re talking like you are one. I don’t even know who you are anymore. Leave my family alone.” I pressed hard on each letter with anger.

This heartbreak was not new to me, so I knew how to get through it. It was easier knowing it was not my doing that ended the friendship this time, so it will not be up to me to rekindle it.

Lesson 5: Being in the middle of two of the most important people in your life and trying to stay out of it won’t end well either way.

Lesson 6: Our friendship was completely over.

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