Friday, August 6, 2010

Something Not Lost.

Nineteen years ago, I left my best friend, left the country, and went off to college.

We were sad.

On one of our last nights together, as best friends, she gave me two gifts: a key chain and a statue; both of Quan Yin, goddess of mercy and compassion, to match the jade pendant I'd worn around my neck.

We'd only met when I was fifteen, at a grocery store where we were cashiers. She was a year older than I, and more experienced in many ways. 

Oh, how I looked up to her in those early days.  She was so happy, no,  jubilant about everything.  Her laugh would shake the room.  If she smiled, everyone smiled. Everyone wanted to be around her, to be her friend.  We all orbited around her infectious joy.

She taught me about boys, how to get them, what they wanted.  She gave me lessons with a water bottle. 


We did bad things together. Drank.  Smoked.  And got away with it.  Always.

She'd drive us around, talking and smoking. She'd have to pull over as her fits of laughter made driving perilous.

If she was laughing her ass off, anyone near her was laughing their ass off.

We had a ritual when lighting a cigarette.  We knew the habit was unhealthy, so whenever we'd light up, we'd pick something to celebrate; as if concentrating on a positive would counteract the negative we were doing to our bodies.

We tried so hard to not be sad on that last night. We tried to celebrate that last smoke.  But we knew something was ending.  We were sad.  I had guilt over leaving her behind.

We remained close throughout college.  Even though I was a country away.  I called.  She called.  We wrote letters and sent cards.

Summers were fun.  Cigarettes were celebrated. 

I graduated from water bottles.

I finished college and landed back 'home'.  We had jobs and rent and responsibility but found time for irresponsible fun.

She got pregnant. She struggled with a troublesome relationship.

I babysat when I could while going to nursing school.

I moved away again.

We stayed close.  Called and wrote often.  She came up to Vermont with her two year old daughter for a visit.

I flew down to Florida for her wedding.  I sent her new husband care packages in Afghanistan.  She came up to Boston when Owen was born.

I have four sisters, but always considered her a fifth.  Neither time nor distance seemed to effect our relationship.

When I went into labor with Bea, she was my first phone call. It was 2am here, but she was in Germany, so I knew she'd be awake.  It was her birthday.  Bea was born on her birthday.

And maybe having a newborn and a tube fed Deaf kid are my excuse.  Maybe having two kids and  a husband away at war is her excuse.  But. The phone calls became less frequent.  Internet birthday wishes aren't the same as a card in the mail.

Distance seemed to be finally growing between us despite our many years apart.

And I looked forward to seeing her this summer.  The first time in 7 years.  The first time she'd meet Bea.

It was today, for a whole hour.  And we didn't have much to say to each other.

And it was as I expected it to be. 

I don't know if I'll ever see her again.  And it is ok.  Really.

But I will speak to her again.  And tell her that I still have that key chain.  It is the only one I have. It is holding all my keys right this very moment.

Who keeps a key chain for 19 years?

And I still have the statue of Quan Yin. The one with the removable hand.  And though I've moved a dozen times or more since she gave it to me, I still have the hand.  The little teeny hand that should have gotten lost in countless moves.

How did I not lose that hand?

I need to tell her I never lost the hand.


  1. this made me cry a little.

    my bff of 18 years recently had a baby, and got married.

    except when we co-habitated, we have always lived eleven minutes away from each other.

    we rarely talk anymore.

    i hope you guys can reconnect.

  2. Speechless.

    In a good way though.

    And those who Quan Yin brings together never are really parted.

  3. I feel as if people are in your life when you need them and not when you don't.
    Sometimes trying to force the past doesn't work.
    Really once you marry your best friend- what more could anyone need?

  4. Clicked through from Everyday Goddess - congrats on your award, well-deserved.

    This sounds so much like my relationship with my old highschool best's a heartbreak and a wonder all at once.

    Beautiful writing.

  5. Time and the years change everyone little by little and sometimes one person moves on... it's okay. I don't hang on to the past... I simply embrace it's memories.


  6. Your friendship can be forever and I hope it is. It was great reading about your journey when you were younger. Congrats on your POTW award on the Goddess' blog.

  7. Best friends....they are something special.

  8. this was really beautifully written. And we can all relate. People come in and out of our lives and serve us for a bit and then we all move on, sometimes circling back into one another's lives for a bit more. It's the experiences we share that last forever.

    Whoa, I just got too serious. Someone fart or something to lighten this up a bit :)

  9. I feel like your teenage self is a different self, and I guess you have many different selves at various stages of your life. You want to stay true to that teenage version of you even though she doesn't exist anymore. I guess the occasional phone calls and the keepsakes are our way of doing that. But I could do without the constant high school reunions that Facebook is enabling....there are some memories that I do NOT want to honor.

  10. I guess it is true that people come into our lives for a season or a lifetime. Each plays their part. Still and all I hate how easy it is to lose touch.


  11. A little sad she's not part of your web any longer. Hate when that happens.

  12. while this was moving and I actually understand that feeling of the changed relationship [one anon reads my blog so i know she's still 'around']...I got hung up on your statement about having 4 sisters.

    I don't know what the hell I'd do.
    signed, me, who currently has some 'issues' with her ONE sister.

  13. Man. This hit me in a funny place. I'm not even sure what I think. I guess I'm like the others in hoping that you guys will eventually reconnect in one way or another.

  14. Bittersweet post. You never know though, you might find the friendship evolves again.

  15. I'm here via The Everyday Goddess. Congratulations on winning her POTW award.

    This is so poignant and beautiful. it's sad that our lives can get between us and someone who was once so important to us. I hope you stay in touch. Someday, you may find you can't to reconnect, and do silly things together again.

  16. It's hard to maintain friendships when you're an adult, it really is.

    Gorgeous post.

  17. this was very touching. I don't think I've ever been friends with anyone for that long. Even my kids (they are 15 and 17)

  18. this? this was an awesome post. I am meeting up with my best friend from college in October. We have kept in touch via email for the last 15 years, but haven't actually seen each other or talked on the phone for those 15 years. We're spending a weekend together at our 20th college reunion.

    It may be weird, it may be cool, I just don't know.

  19. man, i love the way you put things. your tradition makes me almost wish i still smoked so i could copy it. maybe i can start doing that everytime i have a pop tart. female friendships are hard anyway, and when people move around it is just difficult to have connections pick up again after time and distance drive the wedge in. great post.

  20. tulpen: what do you think happened? I wonder about this.

    Is it b/c you have made so many friends on the internet, and so the need for her friendship isn't so dire anymore?

    I think the internet hs changed so many things, b/c , when we blog , we get that daily connection's not like it used to be, where you really had to know a person. Good and bad, right? I mean, less lonely, for sure,but, then, does that keep us from reaching out in the physical world, b/c we do have our people fix here?

    Just my own wheels, and my own know?

  21. Love, love, love your blog! Edgy - the way I've been too scared to be (online - there's backlash, u know). Thanks for the inspiration. Definitely gonna bookmark it. Stopping by from SITS!

  22. It's sad when friendships grow cold. A sad fact of this world is that friendship doesn't usually last forever.

  23. It's amazing the paths we travel. Sometimes together, sometimes apart. I am glad that you are okay with the distance. Your paths may cross again in the future, and I wish you peace no matter what happens.

  24. Sometimes it's the mark the friend leaves on us that endures more than the friendship. You have your key chain to remind you of the kind of friends you can have and the kind you can be. Who knows?

  25. I had a friend like this. We would talk, still, after we drifted apart, but we didn't share. And then the gears shifted and we had more in common, so we became closer again. It isn't what it was, but it's still good.


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