There’s a reason we will buy best friends forever necklaces for our eight-year-old daughters; and it has nothing to do with the way they sparkle and catch the lights as they swoosh back and forth on the jewelry display in Claire’s.
It doesn’t matter if she pulls on your t-shirt, begging you please please please we need to buy this for my best friend in the entire world because it’s her birthday next weekend do you want me to go to the party without an awesome present, Mom?
It’s because we knew, already then, that there would be an ending to the proximity. The closeness. The shared wooden slab in the corner of the sandbox just big enough for both of us to sit.
You could sit in that spot, legs scrunched up and head bent over, building an entire world without ever moving an inch, without ever losing the sound of your best friend’s heartbeat inches from yours.
Most of our lives are spent dishing out infrequent Hellos and bittersweet Goodbyes for the people we once shared a sandbox with. The people we once shared a sofa with. The people we once shared a sad, sad evening on the bathroom floor with.
And maybe, at eight, we already know that. Maybe our daughters will want those best friends forever necklaces, the jagged heart already broken, not because of the shine or the engraved curliques or the way it feels to hand someone something and say, “Promise you’re never going anywhere?”
Maybe they’ll know they’re handing over a piece of their heart. Maybe they’ll know that someday those once-owners of the other half of that two-for-one necklace will scoot on down the East coast on a sunny day in mid-August, only a few months after the principal hands her a high school diploma.
They will know the ache the minute that yellow truck shrinks to a speck on the road that connects their houses, the hollow feeling when all there is left to do is sit on a trampoline that isn’t even yours and wait for childhood to magically return.
Maybe they know that won’t happen, even if they forget it a decade later.
There are some best friends we count on never losing, so we pack up cardboard boxes with things we’ll never need again: our Skip It, Barbie’s corvette, slap braces and those shared and jagged silver heart necklaces.
But then your first best friend, the one who used to wake you up on Christmas morning and ruin the surprise for you, decides she’s got to leave.
You’ll want it back, then: the necklace and those ten years and the sound of her voice before she learned how to curse and drive stick shift and be old without you.
Your heart will scatter itself like dandelion seeds along the Eastern coastline until it feels so thin, so fragile, that you’ll sit up in the middle of the night and clutch your neck, wishing so badly for that necklace.
And the eight-year-old across the street will teeter by on her pink bicycle and you’ll wonder if forever can be wrapped up in a piece of jewelry you never leave home without, if home can live and breathe in that metal scrap around your neck, brushing right past your heart with each forward step.
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