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.