I spent yesterday in the company of one of my closest childhood friends.
S, today, is a journalist and editor. She lives in a bright mote of a town in Western Colorado, and had been invited here for a professional event. She had flown in early and had a few hours before her first obligation, and we arranged–in voices breathless with laughter and expectation–to meet for lunch at a restaurant near her hotel.
I had not seen her in years.
I had not seen her in years, and it was so strangely hard to see her. How is it that the mind so easily erases a decade, or more, or worse? I saw only the same shining green eyes, and the same long-limbed embrace of the world, and the same amazing and familiar smile. (S is the only person I ever knew who seemed capable of grinning with her whole body, like some sort of inverted Cheshire cat; it took less than seconds to see this hadn’t changed.) Even after a reaffirming hug, and even after a stepping back, I had a hard time shaking off the memories to see the thirty-year-old woman before me. I do not believe I’ve quite succeeded.
She was jet-lagged; I was injured and clumsy; we wandered like happy refugees from another era from her hotel lobby toward where we were to eat, and, with our fingers well-oiled by mango relish and well-spiced Indian dishes (what world is this, that something so foreign could be so near?), talk and laugh and trace our way from a fading past through the now.
I do not know the number of times S had fallen asleep in my room, nor I in hers. I do not know how many times we traded secret journals, or drawn designs on each others’ skin. I do not know how we drifted out of touch, nor why, and when we parted I did not know what promises, if any, to make.
But those details were not what I wanted to write about. What I wanted to write about was the sweetness of friendships so close they verge of family, or usurp it. (Perhaps they can only happen in childhood, when each new human connection is proportionally grand, and when guardedness and opinion means little, and when relationships are both more simple, and more overwhelming. I am not sure.) What I wanted to write was that I am not good at sustaining friendships, because solitude comes more naturally and because I cherish being alone and because, mostly, I do not like to impinge. What i wanted to write was how deeply I am grateful for those who have transgressed that guardedness, and how grateful I am, too, for those that respect it.