When you're a kid, the most important part of finding a best friend is geography. You live next door to me? You're probably my best friend. You're in my class and we're in the same brownies troupe? Best friend. No wait, what I meant to say was best friend FOREVER. Because that's how dedicated we are to each other.
But what we don't know is that next year, when we have different teachers, things won't be the same. We'll give each other high fives in the hallway when my class is walking to recess and your class is coming back in, but you'll be hanging out with that girl you sit by in your new class, and I'll be increasingly hanging out with my back-up best friend and next thing you know, our best friendship will be dissolving. It's not a tragedy, it's just childhood.
Which is why when I saw this on a sidewalk last night, I was tempted to write "I give this one year, tops."
When I was about six years old, I was best friends with a girl named Kelly R. We weren't in the same class, but she lived down the street from me, which is the next best thing. We played together all the time. Saying "played together" sounds weird, doesn't it? But it doesn't become "hanging out" till you're what they call today a "tween." That's when you have to start correcting your mom that you're not "playing," you're "hanging out - JEEZ." And you have to say it very earnestly and with a bit of an eye roll if you really want to drive the point home that you're no longer a kid.
Anyway, we played together all the time. We were really into Footloose and we danced and sang along to that all the time. We had grand dreams of building a secret garden in the tiny bit of shrubbery and two trees in her backyard. And we played truth or dare, which at that age was about as G rated as you could get. Kelly's parents were divorced, so it was just her, her mom, and her sister, which was a very different dynamic than my own home where I had two parents and three younger siblings. Their house, just one block down from mine, had the exact same layout as my own though, so it didn't feel like I was too far away.
I remember nothing about Kelly's mom. Nothing at all. She must have been there, but who knows what she was doing. I do remember her sister though. She was overweight and a couple years older than us. She'd play with us sometimes and was nice enough. I played at their house so often (it must have been summer vacation) that one time when I was at my own house playing on the swingset with my sisters, I found out just how much I'd been gone. I said something like, "He's such a wiener." And my sisters went, "ooooOoOoO! That's a bad word! We're not allowed to say wiener."
I was astonished. I mean, yes we were allowed to say wiener. Or rather, at Kelly's house we were. Suddenly I realized that I was spending too much time at Kelly's house if I didn't even know what the rules were at my own house.
Soon after that, Kelly and her sister and mom moved. I have no idea where they moved to. It could have just been an hour away, but when you're a kid it may as well have been California for all I knew. I didn't know how to buy stamps, (I didn't know how to express myself in writing anyway) the internet hadn't been invented yet, and we just had to face the facts: best friends forever just wasn't in the cards for us.
It was ok though, because as soon as the school year started, I had a new best friend anyway.
So maybe after writing "I give this one year, tops," I could add, "but it'll be ok."
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