Where should I begin? Where can I begin? Our backyards that face each other? Your living room in front of the TV playing Beauty and the Beast? My playroom beside a rainbow toy piano? Or should I go back to the day we had a fashion show in my yard? I remember you wearing my blue floral hat as I tried on your pointe shoes. They were slightly too big for me, but you did me a favor letting me borrow them, so I didn't want to complain. You were my best friend--of course I didn't want to complain to you.
We were so close. We were best friends. We were in preschool, learning about shapes and colors, and that’s what we knew school to be. Life was simple and easy. Everything with you was easy.
We went anywhere our imaginations took us, and as long as we believed our imaginations, they became our reality. I still remember us playing outside, running from my yard to yours, invisible swords in our hands, and invisible wings on our backs. I still remember the thrill of going up the hill in my backyard and through the trees into yours—it felt like we were entering a new world, those trees separating our properties being the portal to anywhere we wanted to go.
We were pirates, heroes, and starlets. We played in the sandbox and did somersaults. We once accidentally flooded your basement with a garden hose. We did everything together. Why did we stop?
I want to say we stopped talking when we went to kindergarten. Exactly why we stopped, I don’t know. Although I didn’t move, I ended up going to a different school district, and I thought I’d never see you again. Part of me was okay with that, because even though you were my best friend, you often made me feel upset. I did hold onto the good memories of you, but the negative ones overrode the positive. Another part of me was curious about you though. Where were you? How were you doing? What kind of hobbies did you develop? Who did you grow up to be? Who were you, the girl in the house behind mine?
When I switched schools after eighth grade and started going to our local high school, my questions found answers. I met someone who said she knew you, and through her we started talking again, but I wasn’t sure how to act. You were both my best friend and the first person I had built resentment for; said resentment lasted nine or so years, so I had mixed feelings about talking to you again. I was hesitant, given my aforementioned negative memories of you, but I was also excited. After all, we hadn’t talked in about nine years.
There was so much to catch up on. Back then, just like the beginning of this letter, I didn't know where to start. You changed so much, you grew so much, but you were still strikingly recognizable. Tell me, did you feel that way about me too?
When we became friends again, I’ll have to admit that as the new kid, I liked having someone in school I had previously known, even if they had been lost from my sight for nine years. It was refreshing—I had a new friend, and that new friend was an old friend I was talking to again. My feelings of resentment subsided as we grew to know each other better as teenagers, and a big thing that helped was actually telling you about my resentment. I still remember sitting in your bed, telling you about these negative memories, and I still remember the tightness in my cheeks as I quietly cried about it. I know you did too.
As friends do, we got past that, and we grew together over the coming months. We were new to high school and teenagedom in general, and I’m glad I got to explore it with you. Not unlike missing our preschool friendship, I miss the peak of our high school friendship in freshman year. I miss getting Chipotle with you, making tea in your kitchen while you did your homework, and running up the hill to meet you in your driveway so we could go skate after school. I miss helping you with your Spanish homework, randomly walking into your house to scare you in your room, and that one night you told me to meet you in my backyard at eight o’clock, all because you bought me sandpaper for my blending stumps. That period of time felt like preschool again, and I felt we had come full circle.
And now it’s freshman year of college, and we’ve drifted again. This drift wasn’t as bad though; we grew in separate directions, and that’s okay. Although we go to the same college, I rarely see you and we don’t talk as much. Our distance exists, but we’re still connected through the same campus. Part of me feels safe knowing that—in a big city on a big campus with a big student population, I like knowing that I have at least one root of familiarity here, and I like knowing that it’s you.
While I understand we don’t have that much of a dynamic anymore during our freshman year of college, I still want to say thank you for the time we did have in freshman year of high school. We’re not completely distanced right now, but from where I am in this point in space and time, not directly by your side, I still feel like I owe you a formal thank you. You deserve it.
Thank you for being with me when I was the new kid in school. Thank you for always welcoming me back into your house and into your yard. Thank you for trusting me when you needed to. Thank you for the time and energy you spent with me when I was down, and for joining me on the way back up.
You were my best friend, and thank you for being my first.