Monday, September 24, 2007

when you need a friend...

As a child my family moved around a lot.

Every 2-4 years it would happen, my father would be transferred to another town, another place. As a baby I'm sure I didn't mind, I had my mom, I had my brother, I had my toys... what could be so bad?

But in kindergarten I made a friend, her name was Cheri and she made school a brighter place to play. I wanted to go to school each and everyday to see her, to play, to talk... I'd never had a friend like her, I had never had a friend that wasn't a toy or a doll or my rough and tumble fist fighting older brother, or my mom.

If you never moved as a child you may not be able to quite imagine the pain of a small child when she is told that it is time to move. To leave her home, her bedroom, her school, her teacher, the little market on the corner where the owner gave her ice cream and smiled, the vast field by her house where she would lay in the weeds and watch the clouds, or her best friend.

Even now, years removed my heart breaks a little when I think of my friend with her perfect straight black hair and her tiny grin. If I had stayed in Fresno for years perhaps we would have grown apart, had different interests or even grown to hate one another, but I'll never know because we packed up and moved away to another town, another school, another house, another street.

There I found another friend, a wonderful friend named Mary Kathryn. We met the day I moved in and we remained friends until the day I left. Even through fights and tantrums, exclamations of I hate you and You're not my best friend anymore. We were close as two girls living next door can be.

When we left Bakersfield I was old enough to write letters, to keep in contact... and it helped that our mothers were good friends... I saw her once or twice again in my life... She visited me in the next town we moved to, and in the beginning there were letters. But we moved on. She wanted to be a pilot. I wanted to be a bird.

I spoke to her once years and years ago when I learned that her mother was ill, I called her one day while she was still in college. It was strange. It was strained. Then her mother passed away and I lost her number, I don't know where she is and now as much as she is part of my heart she is a memory.

In 5th grade there was another friend, Valerie. She was my very best friend then, but before 6th grade that ended when for a change she moved away. The next summer I spent 10 days with her and her family, it was a wonderful visit but it was obvious even then that the magic of best friends had been broken by time and space...

There I also had Sarah, and she of all my childhood friends I'm in contact with, though we also remain pulled apart by time and space. She is no longer the best friend I giggled and ate horded candy with, but unlike the others she is real, she has grown into a wonderful woman, she is not a mere memory.

It's sad for me to look back on my best friends of childhood, in some respects they seem nothing more than ghosts or fairytale. They wisp through my mind to remind me they existed and I present a smile to the world, though a sad one.

And all of it makes me think of one thing, my little girl and the friends she has, the friends I hope she can keep. Her first and dearest friend is already gone from her. They never see each other, and may never again. It breaks my heart to watch her cry for him knowing there is nothing I can do... but in time others have stepped in to take his place, neighbors and classmates, people I hope will stay around, people I know will not and all I can hope is that she finds a friend to hold to and is not left with a trail of ghosts when she is my age...

***

This post was written in response to David McMahon's Weekend Wanderings. He poses a new question each weekend and asks readers to respond on their own blog.

16 comments:

flutter said...

This was beautiful and wistful and sad, and I can relate more than I can possibly express

david mcmahon said...

I agree with Flutter - we can all relate to that deep, deep experience. And please tell your daughter from me that while she will make many friends and choose to keep several, her first best friend is the one she'll always remember.

Do keep in touch

Cheers

David

sybil law said...

I miss my first real best friend, too. Remember her very, very well. She went on to become a news anchor. Funny.
But you're stuck with me, from now til forever. :P

ImPerceptible said...

The mood of this post is perfect. It brings back lots of old memories. Good ones mostly.

Troy said...

Great post, Cami. This is a great topic that I now want to write about too, but won't do it today cuz your words are way better than mine would be. Thanks for the wonderful read...made me think and smile and think some more.

julie said...

Yeah, we can all relate. I'm very lucky in that my very first very best friend is still my very best friend. But there have been others who have come and gone.

I remember my favorite friend from first grade -- Mandy. We played together all the time and sat next to each other the whole year. She moved away by third grade. I always wondered about her. Then about six years ago, I saw her at a bridal shower for a mutual friend. She had no idea who I was and didn't remember me at all from first grade.

I guess I left quite an impression.

Amira said...

I can really identify. We moved every two years on average when I was a kid. The only best friend I still have (who is now simply a friend) from before the age of 21 is from high school. All the elementary school friends are lost.

Thanks for writing this.

The Holmes said...

Great post, Cami. Sometimes I think I've got more friends in my memory than I still know today. It's almost as if those first friends in our youngers days somehow get to us deeper, at a time when we're more open, less closed off.

SquidgesMum said...

I have lots I want to say on this post but my brain isn't working but I still wanted to comment. I'll simply say- well done, great post!

CamiKaos said...

Lindy: Come on back if you decide you have something more to say, or write you own post on it and like back to david. And thanks.

Holmes: I think you are right. It is amazing how accepting we are and how open as children. Three weeks is enough to cement a lifetime memory of someone. As an adult we often see the same people day in and day out and know nothing more than their name.

Amira: I have a few friends from high school, mostly that I found again years later that were still in my heart and I really treasure them because they are pretty much the earliest link I have.

Julie: Obviously she has a horrible memory problem?? That is such a quirky story, it makes me think of exactly what would happen if I ever ran into any of those girls that were so important to me in my childhood.

Troy: I hope you post on it, I would love to read your thoughts on the matter....

Imperceptible: Thank you so much.

Sybil: Mad love baby...

David: Thanks for that, I will tell her.

Flutter: You and I have had too many heartaches in common friend...

Victorya said...

Wonderful post indeed! Brings back so many memories of lost friends. What wonderful writing too! kept me enthralled.

qofd said...

This is a wonderful post. Having never really moved as a child, I can't understand but you made it very relatable.

Corey~living and loving said...

awwwwwwwwwwwww this was a lovely read. I feel a little closer to you inner little girl. sigh...why does life have to be so hard sometimes.
I hope your girl's friends stick around, and she will have less loss than you did!
hugs!

angel said...

what a wonderful post cami!i was lucky enough not to have to move so much, and my best friend and i have been best friends for 25 years! but my darling damien battles to hang onto friends... i try to help- but i don't like to interfere.

Mountain Momma said...

What a great post!
Thanks for sharing and I can absolutely relate!!!

Alison
www.mommountain.blogspot.com

Jo Beaufoix said...

Cami, that was so beautiful.
I missed this one but I might still write about it as it made me think about my friend Emma.