At the time, I was convinced it was easy for Jade to tell me I was beautiful because her mom had always told her that. And because she was beautiful herself. And because she was trying to make me feel better. Those things are all true, perhaps. I didn't consider that she might also be speaking truth until much later.
Jade ran cross country in high school and said she didn't care if she finished last. She wore chic dresses to the three proms she attended. She always had a boyfriend. She wanted to sing in a band. Jade took drawing classes and became friendly with the instructors. She brought classmates to our room to get high. She listened to Joni Mitchell and spoke of Janis Joplin with reverence. She did impressions, danced, kissed, had intense, all-night conversations with boys she met at parties. I used to study her. I loved her like she were a favorite doll I carried around for comfort.
Jade drew my portrait for her classes many times. She would ask me to sit for her. We laughed about her always saying "just twenty minutes." When I began to complain of wanting to get up we'd take a break, smoke pot, and she'd begin drawing again. I sat in the green camp chair with the cup holder arm rests and she'd sit at her desk with the lamp on. Old rock played in the background. Her picture of Tori Amos in concert was taped up near her bent head. Jade would show me the drawings as they progressed. Sometimes the portraits were for practice only and sometimes they were for assignments. One of them received high praise from her instructor. I admired her drawings and wondered if I really looked like the girl she drew.
Jade had a group of friends back home that she talked about. The were dramatic, they liked to drink, they slept together and traveled together. They had nick-names and alliances. Jade said they called her car the vagina-mobile because she took all her friends to planned parenthood for their birth control. She took me there too. She held her cigarettes in the center of her full lips. She wore Nivea lotion after a shower. She had the perfect body. She never came back to live in the apartment off campus sophomore year, like we talked about. She told me she was moving to San Diego with her boyfriend two weeks before the next year started. I almost didn't go back either.