It was much easier to scribble handwritten notes to my best friend when my Spanish teacher was busy musing over the pieces of his heart shattered by the local weather girl.
I learned that lesson at thirteen, recounting how boys weren’t noticing me in a marbled composition book, taped over with cut out words from Seventeen & CosmoGirl.
And it was driving back to my apartment on Sunday, the driver’s side window saran-wrapped and electrical taped that I knew it to be true. Still so true.
There was a box on the floor between my chair and the backseat. A box from Amazon.com. It wasn’t sealed, but that didn’t change the fact that three girls in the church parking lot across the street from my best friend’s yard insisted I keep it closed for the 100-mile trek. So I did. Because some promises should be honored. Because it was supposed to rain later. Because you need something, sometimes, to look forward to.
I sat with a bowl of soggy Golden Grahams and unfolded the flaps. Inside was the handwriting I knew so well. The penmanship that hasn’t changed in years. The words that made my mother stop and take notice eight years ago.
“Who’s this Emily girl?” she asked me, fingers tracing my eighth grade yearbook. “She seems nice.”
I told her people were nice. They hoped you had a great summer and never changed. They hoped you’d IM them sometime. They didn’t wait by the phone for a call. They had other friends, didn’t they?
My mom didn’t think so. And so it is that girl, sitting inside my memory, that took up residence in my unlit apartment on Sunday while I read her words and cried and set aside my soggy cereal and prayed the letter never ended.
Some friendship stories are blurry, like the road lines in a summer storm in Cecil County Maryland when the fat drops pool along your driver’s side door.
Ours is clear and sunny. Same as the town fair my mother drove us to that first night after I called and prayed she meant it. Prayed she meant more than “Have a great summer,” when she left her phone number.
Some friendship stories are magical. Like the beginning of a book you’ll pick up in a few years and already know the words on page 157. They sound like heaving sobs in empty apartments and look like recycled cardboard boxes filled with trinkets from Target: a strawberry plant, a lint roller, crazy straws, a compact mirror, a CD that spins and catches and starts with words you never knew existed until you hit play.
But those words, they find you. They are exactly what you need to hear, on a Wednesday in the dark on the way to the public library. On a Sunday with a week of unknowns ahead of you.
Some friendship stories are blurry. Mine are magical.
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