One of my favorite things to do when I’m back in my hometown is walking my dog. We’ll harness up and be gone for hours just walking around the neighborhood and nearby parks.
Scout’s favorite place to walk, because it’s home to so many deer and squirrels, is in a common area between some houses and the woods. While walking there yesterday, I saw a group of little girls around six years old holding hands in a circle. They kept chanting, “best friends forever” as they jumped up and down. Being back in my childhood home already brought up nostalgia, but hearing these girls chant “best friends forever” at such a young age made me remember the times I used to do that with my friends.
One minute you’re six years old, thinking that these people will be in your life forever, and the next you’re going off to college and realizing you were only friends because you saw them every day. I remember sitting in the driveway of my friend’s house in fifth grade, making best friends bracelets and talking about how we didn’t understand how friendships broke off, we never had any problems. I now don’t even follow this friend on Instagram, and she doesn’t follow me back, I’m not sure what she’s majoring in, or even what state she’s living in.
I wonder if having the traditional end to high school would have kept my childhood friendships from deteriorating so intensely and rapidly. None of us knew when we departed on a random Friday in March that it would be the last time we saw each other again. If we had a graduation, an event where we knew it was the last time we would see each other, would we have told each other how much we meant to one another?
That friend of mine from the driveway in fifth grade, she was one I had since before we could even spell the word “college”. We started having troubles in high school though, and they only progressed as we got to senior year and realized we had to make Big Girl Decisions like where we would live and what industry we would go into. I also went through a lot of troubles my senior year and they made me realize the people I surrounded myself with really do affect a person a lot more than they realize. No matter how hard I tried to articulate the problems I was having with her in regards to this, we never really understood each other.
Listening to the song “Old Friends” by Ben Rector always makes me think of her. We lived so close as kids, it wouldn’t take me more than two minutes to appear in her backyard if we decided to hang out. The verse that really gets me is “And I’ve got some good friends now / But I’ve never seen their parents’ back porch / I wouldn’t change how things turned out / But there’s no one in this time zone / Who knows what inline skates that I wore.”
I remember all the memories of us growing up together, first grade through senior year is a long time to learn a lot about a person. We would sit on the porch in my backyard for hours just talking and laughing, make dinner for ourselves like we were college roommates spending a Saturday evening in our own house. We both learned how to rollerskate in a corner of her basement that was unfinished. I’d throw my rollerskates in a backpack and lug them across the field to her house before riding around in circles until we took off our helmets and the sweat had matted our hair to our heads. No matter how many stories I’ve told with my beloved college friends while sitting in the hall of our dorm late at night, it would be foolish to say they know me better than she did. They were easy times, simple times, and the epitome of a girlhood friendship.
Maybe one day we’ll run into each other in Hometown and be able to explain what happened and finally understand each other. Until then, she’ll just be this memory in my mind of pure, childhood friendship, and a “This account is private” textbox on Instagram.
I can go over old friendships like this one and rethink everything that went wrong for hours during my time back in Hometown. The thing is though, even if I could go back to being friends with all of them again, I wouldn’t belong there anymore. I’m nowhere near the same person I was when we all departed on March 13, 2020.
So I hope they all know that I think about them in this nostalgic way sometimes, and I hope they think about me as fondly as well. Daydreaming about the picnics we would have, the nights we would laugh until our stomachs were sore the next morning, and going through the trenches of high school together. I hope they enjoy what they are studying, where they are living, and they’ve made themselves a new group of friends to go through the trenches of college with.
They may not be the first text I send when I land my dream job, they might not be in my wedding, they might not even attend my wedding at all… but we were Girls together, and I wish them the absolute best.
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