By chance of the alphabet, we sat next to each other as young children in school. We instantly bonded and became the best of friends. Together, we learned how to navigate the social awkwardness of middle and high school. The highs and lows of liking boys, and figuring out how and where to fit in with the other girls. Always knowing that we had each other, no matter what the other cliques were doing. Her house a warm escape from the terrors of my own existence.
The day I turned seventeen, I moved to another state. Standing in her driveway, I got into my brother’s car. Waving goodbye, we drove away, going to a place that I had barely heard of, and didn’t know a single person. My best friend, my rock, my place of refuge moving further and further away in the rear-view mirror.
Those first years after I left, on the phone and in letters we shared how it felt to move out and get our first apartments, the excitement of coming of age, dancing the nights away, and sharing the news of new loves, and then loves heartbreak.
In our twenties, we meet our mates and begin the next step in adulthood. Marriage and children occupied our time, but whenever we talked, we could always slip back to the cadence of girlish laughter, shared memories, the ease of a forever friend.
Then life took us on different paths. Our bond was still strong, but now we are not only separated by geography, but also by responsibility, needs, and exploring different lifestyles.
Both of us personally struggle with tragic and ever-changing family events, we try to keep in touch but it’s sparse and quick. We knew that it was okay because we silently trusted that this was also a part of the life of our friendship. No matter the time and distance the embers of that unbreakable bond were still glowing. A forever lit coal, just waiting.
Finally, after decades apart we are able to come together. We have been able to spend days and nights catching up. So much has changed in our lives. It hasn’t been easy for either of us. The trials of life, of health, of death, of finding our inner strength.
The wonderfulness is that instantly we are able to be ourselves. No need for uneasiness, or putting on any masks. It’s easy to be with that one person who knew you at the beginning when life was both easy and complicated. It reminds me of the feeling of exhaling after holding your breath underwater and bursting to the surface. The hug of that one person who knows your history; has lived through your history with you, and because of that understands and accepts the why and how you navigate some of life’s events.
Even though we may have aged decades, when I look at her, I still see that same person sitting next to me that first day in school. The sparkle in her eyes, the silly smile, and laugh that comes easy and quick are still there; no change. She is still the same steady rock, who is that calm, let’s not worry about things we cant change person, to my let’s try to control everything.
We can still get in the car and cruise around and talk and talk and talk. We can take silly pictures, and laugh, feeling young, carefree, no worries in the world. We can also cry and feel the pain for what we’ve had to endure, and for the present trials in our own lives, our children lives, or our loved ones. We can go through all the emotions in a matter of an hour. It’s easy, it flows, it’s safe, it’s trusting.
After many decades, we have reunited, and the conversation picked up where it left off!