Off and on, I look at the weekly photo and writing challenges at The Daily Post. Sometimes they serve as inspiration for the future, but I rarely act on them, and I’ve definitely never completed the challenge within the week like I’m supposed to. But this week’s challenge was “Leftovers,” and I was encouraged to go back in history, drudge up an old post I wrote but never published, and reinvent it for publication. So here it is:
Dear K. McC.,
Do you remember when we would walk up the hill to that funky tree, with the moss growing across the top and just enough horizontal space for the two of us and our lunch boxes in between? We would go up there every week for sib lunch, but we went up there just the two of us with incredible regularity. We sat face to face, sharing our sandwiches and fruit, telling stories and making memories. We complained about teachers and friends, gave advice (as much advice as twelve to thirteen year olds really can give, that is), and talked about anything and everything. And I loved you for it.
I remember the next year, when we had new sibs, and we loved spending time with them. But I also remember remembering the tree, wishing we could go up there again. I remember remembering our first sib lunch ever, up in Ashland. We almost got back late, which was a tragic idea, even though it never came to fruition. I remember getting postcards from you, and sending them too. I remember the little Japanese bag filled with important things passed down from sib to sib.
I remember so many strange but super specific details about our time in middle school. Do you remember the day I slept over at your house? We slept on the floor of your living room, and we spent a solid ten minutes talking about the pros and cons of wearing a bra to bed. I still think its crazy, by the way. I remember your slicked back, perfect hair every single day, and the absolutely gorgeous hair you had for your recital performance. And that you wore your hair in curlers to school for the whole day! I was so impressed by your commitment, by your intelligence, by your kindness to me. I looked up to you like I had never looked up to anybody else. I thought you were my hero, but we were simply friends. I don’t think I realized that was what a good friend looks like.
I wonder what you remember about me from middle school. We met each other more than 10 years ago, and sometimes it seems much shorter, but sometimes it seems much longer. I wonder if your memories of me from middle school are as romanticized as I’m sure mine are. I wonder how my life would have been different if I hadn’t gone to middle school with you. Just as often, I wonder what would have happened if I had followed you to Castilleja for high school. Did you know I wanted to do that? I begged my parents, but they flatly refused. (Well, not really. They just said they wouldn’t pay for college if they had to pay for private high school. Even at the end of eighth grade, I knew the best answer to that conundrum.)
Would we have stayed closer? If we would have seen each other more than once every couple of years, if we would know more about each other’s lives and goals and struggles? But then we have coffee. And its as if we never left. Yes, there are lots of things to talk about, and an hour never seems like long enough, but it also never feels awkward. Sometimes, even with my best friends from high school – friends that just 2 years ago I would have sworn we would be friends forever – we have awkward lulls and just have nothing to talk about. But with you, I never feel like thats a problem, and I never feel like its ever even getting close.
I texted you a couple days ago, and your life is as busy as ever. I get snippets of your life from facebook, but I really don’t know that much. I know enough to be envious of the fact that you know what you want to do and that you’re well on your way. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a boyfriend or been devastated by a test. We’re making plans to get coffee again, and I can’t wait. I know that we’ll pick right up where we left off last time, start with some insignificant discussion of our common friends and then – within five minutes – be talking about things I wouldn’t discuss with the vast majority of my friends, or my mom.
Sometimes I’ll write you a letter, and every so often I decide to send you something out of the blue. But in a way, I cherish our distance, because it means that getting to see each other face to face, to hug and smile, to laugh and maybe cry, means that much more. It means I get to imagine your life when we’re not near each other, and I get to remember all the good times we had and look forward to our chance meetings in the future. It gives me a perspective on our relationship that I think I need because – face it – we’re too similar. If we’d actually gone to the same high school, we would have had some massive fight and decided to never ever see each other again. Because we think the same way and we have the same strengths and weaknesses; these things that make it easy to jump back in to conversations after a year or two apart would make it almost impossible to have conversations every day.
It is my hope that you enjoy our relationship as much as I do. I know that it’s a strange sort of relationship. I have close friends now in college I think of much the way I thought of you in middle school, but I honestly think that our friendship was the first real friendship – in an adult, real person sort of way – I ever had. So thanks for that.