I’m six, working with my third grade writing buddy to compose this month’s masterpiece: basically the younger partner in the pairing (me) got to dictate a short story and the older student (Stephanie) practiced handwriting (I guess?) and put up with my immaturity.
“What do you want to write about?” she asked, pencil poised above the yellow legal pad.
Last time we described my rabbit, Midnight—since then buried in the backyard under a skewed wooden cross. The time before that was a winter-day adventure, skating on our frozen pond and hiking along snowmobile paths. Now what? In first grade I had limited experiences to draw from.
“How about your best friend Jess?” she suggested.
But how could I start a story about our friendship when I couldn’t remember how the friendship began? I racked my brain trying to think of the exact time, the moment I knew she was the One. Had we coincidentally shared the same monkey bars at recess? Swapped sandwiches at lunch? Discovered a mutual love for horses? Or had it grown from a straightforward, “Hey, let’s be friends”?
Since then I’ve gone through the same process at some point in nearly every lasting friendship I’ve had/have. There’s a point when I try to connect the dots from past to present like you might trace the lines of a conversation from car tires to tire swings to summer camps to first crushes to the meaning of love. And I fail every time.
I know she makes me feel good. He makes me laugh. The why is less important than knowing they are in my life and I’m happy.