Wish you were here.

7 10 2007

We were best friends almost as soon as we saw each other. I was 5, Kristie was 5. She had a weird younger brother and a ton of Barbies. She lived right across from our elementary school and I was at her house every single morning and every single afternoon while my parents worked. We were attached at the hip at recess and on the weekends. We were two little girls who only knew each other and who were a force to be reckoned with.

In first grade, we took Jericho Elementary by storm even though we were in different classrooms, I in Mrs. Hughes’ room, Kristie in Mrs. Giles’. When the bell for recess rang, we would rush outside the classroom doors, meet outside, and hug then run like banshees around the playground, flirting with the boys and playing kickball. On the day I wore a red elephant dress to school and dared to play kickball at recess, I skinned my knee straight down to the bone running to first base after kicking the ball up over the telephone wire. I fussed over my injury for weeks, feeling a little proud of myself that I’d been hurt so badly. But it would be nowhere near the injuries Kristie would have–two broken arms, one right after the other, any number of bruises. I played it safe most of the time; Kristie was much more reckless.

In second grade, I moved to Mrs. Larabee’s class and Kristie moved to Mr. Driscoll’s. And in third, we were united in a different school, with Mrs. Davis. It was here that it became quite clear that the two of us were soul mates. On the last day of third grade, we took the bus home from school to my house and I cried walking down my long dirt driveway because our magical year of school had ended. Kristie wrapped her arm around me and consoled my weeping heart. Even though she was shorter than I was, she managed just fine to make me feel secure. We posed that day with each other while my mom took our picture outside of the fort house that my dad had built for me, with our arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders like best friends are supposed to do. In the summer, we posed in the same way outside of her house, on the lawn with her brother. The three of us little musketeers for best friendship. For years she kept that Polaroid tacked up to her bedroom’s pink wall, despite the photo’s fading colors and the fact that the blue sky had turned to white. One Christmas, she came to my house to decorate our tree. We dressed up fancy in my clothes and posed for another picture, tightly gripping each other’s hands, feeling the excitement of Christmas and the knowing that we were best friends.

All the birthdays I ever had she was the first guest on the list. It was not a birthday without her, there with me to dress up or to unwrap presents. To make up plays and perform them for my parents or for hers. We stuffed ourselves with the pretty cakes my mother had let me design–a Care Bear cake, a Cabbage Patch Doll cake, a rainbow cake, a music note cake. Always white with colorful frosting, always the most beautiful part of my birthday. Kristie and I would sneak peaks and fingertips of frosting through the day.

It went like this, on and on, through middle school, through high school. Of course, new friends came along, took our focus just slightly (or quite largely) off of each other, and then there was college, where everything suddenly became different and separate and I changed and she changed and the world around us changed, and there was enough change to make your head spin right off. I knew this was a natural thing, I knew it would be quite normal for friends to move apart and to separate. Perhaps I knew it all along. I’d even known people could go away forever.

I also knew people would get married and start a life with a different best friend. And that’s indeed what happened, a few years ago, when I was living in Providence. Kristie called me up and announced that she’d eloped with her wonderful Shawn. And that was that. She moved away a year later to Oregon and I haven’t seen her since. This summer, when I was at home for my high school reunion, I had every hope in my heart to see her there. But then the phone rang and it was Kristie and she was telling me she wouldn’t be able to make it because of work, because of family, because of…well, it didn’t matter, really.

While we made our way through the rest of the conversation easily and talked for a long time, I didn’t want to tell her that I needed to hang up the phone. I needed to because I felt myself choking back a sob. It was true, then, that we were no longer the little girls in the Polaroid. I’d known it all along, of course, that we weren’t, but that phone call, the first in so long, had made it clear that so much had changed. When we did in fact hang up, I returned to the kitchen where my mother had made a birthday cake for me, to make up for the fact that I was in Brazil for my last birthday and she couldn’t be there. I walked to the cake and looked down at it, all white frostinged and colorful with sprinkles. It was a pretty cake, like all the others I’d had over the years. It was sweet and lovely and perfect for a girl. And on it were some candles and I stared down at it and burst into tears, the ones I’d felt gathering in my chest and in my throat, the prickly ones behind my eyes when I’d heard Kristie tell me she wouldn’t be able to make it out for the reunion. It felt so silly to be celebrating in that moment.

When did things change? How did my friend’s face become unfamiliar, or her voice over the phone sound foreign? How did I let that happen? How did the time slip through our fingers and make our arms slip from around each other’s shoulders? Could I have clutched more tightly during a time when the forces wanted to slip between us? Could I have been a better friend to her? Could I have done something, anything, to make our lives more intertwined, so that it’s now not strange to hear her voice or see her face? These are the regrets I have.

Tonight’s a regular night, like all the others that have come between then and now. It’s just that my thoughts are drifting toward the heavy things. I miss my friend. And that’s just the plain truth about today.

me and kristie


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13 responses

7 10 2007
Sofy

This is sad. It made me a bit teary and three hundred times more upset that Alvy and I just had a fight.

Which one are you in the picture?

-Sofy

7 10 2007
sangroncito

Love this post. Life is all about friends. I’ve lost my share of them and also kept a good share, too. Friends change and leave us, but they never really go away. I wish I had some of my friends from home with me here in Brazil.

7 10 2007
nicolemarie

oh you don’t know how close to home this hits. i just sent the link to my childhood best friend and asked her to read it. maybe it will spark a real conversation between us or maybe it will just be one more thing that we don’t talk about. thanks for sharing this, you put into words something I haven’t been able to.

7 10 2007
kristie

i hate to be the one to say this, as i am a co-subject of this blog (and i say ‘co’ not because it’s about gina and i, but because maybe the main point of this blog is only partly about the two of us), but isn’t space and time juxtaposed with our a relationship a bit abstract. how do i mean? to say that everyone changes and you know that change is going to take place is a bit of dramatic cliche. but to turn and embrace all of that and say ‘well, it wasn’t exactly that she changed or he changed’ but that they held on to those relationships or memories or pre-adolescent dorky pictures of best friends and brothers however best they could is because that is exactly what made them who they are and that is never going to just waltz away. never. and the reason they hold on to said images is so that they can always have that person in their life regardless of physical proximity. my reaction to the above picture, which i have swiped and added to my flickr, is bff. yours sadness. it’s all a bit relative isn’t it? i think regardless of my getting married and moving to oregon or you moving to massachusetts then rhode island then connecticut and finally brasil, we were always going to do things that were going to take us away from where we were and that any sadness you are feeling is about something much bigger. i will say that i hope you know i will always love you and always be there to make-up inane songs in a hammock on a river with a terrible (i mean terrible) voice and all. obviously, there is the choice to believe in that or to not. i choose to believe. maybe i am still being reckless.

7 10 2007
Nilsa S.

I’m sure it’s no consolation to know you are not alone. But you’re not and everyone goes through the sort of loss you’re experiencing (ok, maybe not your students just yet, but they will too). I think it’s incredibly difficult to maintain friendships on any level when you live so far from one another. As a child, I moved around a number of times. I didn’t have the child-long friendships you had. But, I do relate to your feelings of loss of friends who no longer live close to you. It’s hard for me to comprehend because I feel I can put in the effort to make calls, exchange emails and visit (even if very rarely). For others (probably most others), it’s the theory: out of sight, out of mind. Friendships, like life, are fluid. For now, take the many good things away from your friendship with Kristie, maybe share those life lessons with your students and know that as the fluidity of life flows, Kristie may reemerge again one day. Anything is possible.

7 10 2007
ginacoggio

Oh, trust me, Krit. I believe.
I’m sure you’re right about all this being about something bigger; I’m not sure I can put my finger on it, though.

7 10 2007
kristie

I can put my finger on it. It’s about love and its place in your life. Also, I love you and you love me. And sometimes it’s complicated.

7 10 2007
ginacoggio

Yes. And it’s also about why NOT to listen to sad music while trying to write a post about your best friend who you miss very much, when the message that you want to get out is really about how much you love your best friend, not about how sad you are.

7 10 2007
Catherine

Hi Girls:-)
Just be thankful for all of those awesome and amazing times you had together growing up and know that although you’ve grown up and may be more “distant” that you will always have each other in your hearts and memories…not to mention all the times you’ll share with each other now and in the future. You’ve helped shape each other into the people you are today and that’s a very special bond to share. Life is an amazing journey that brings us to places we don’t always expect or want…give in to each moment and enjoy the ride for what it is.

7 10 2007
Susan

Awww I cried at least 2 times reading the post and comments. *Making note to call my very best friend this week that is way too far away.

8 10 2007
Alvy

Yo Baby C!
You haven’t changed a bit since that picture, you have the exact same face! It’s impressive. The other amazing thing is that you’re taller! (Wee hoo for ya!) You were the cutest thing ever. Aw, I wish I knew you at that time! You must’ve been so cute!
Oh, and I feel so guilty for almost not hugging you today… I’m sorry, the depression that I earned in the weekend remained in today’s morning, so I felt real bad… and I actually felt like crying when you were gonna hug me… don’t ask me why, oh, and lemme tell ya about the gifts!

Mug: Mine, Sofy’s, Lorraine’s and Chich’s idea, we all paid
Piercing: My idea, Sofy paid
Tauran witch with big boobs: Lorraine’s idea, she paid
Paçoca: My idea, Sofy paid

Just so you know… I didn’t know if you knew that I took part in the gifts, and want my credit!!! Well, that’s about it, love ya! You’re the best!

8 10 2007
ginacoggio

I know you were there, Alvy…I know who contributed, and it meant very much to see all your faces in my room this morning.
I’m sorry you were feeling so upset; we can talk anytime if you’re feeling sad about something!

8 10 2007
Alvy

Aw, thanks Baby C!!! You’re the best, you’ll surely be the first person I’ll talk to when I have problems the next time!

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