The Truth About Growing Apart

By Janelle Hart, Staff Writer

Dear Old Friend,

I was wondering what’s going on with you…what’s the “haps”? What’s up? Are you good? Are you happy? How are you, P? I was wondering what you’re up to, what are your plans for the summer? Will you be visiting good ‘ol Grandma Ruth in Florida? Will you be going to Florence, like you’ve always been dreaming? What have you been dreaming about lately, by the way? Is it the pirate with rain boots in the shooting range or the clown who’s eating pretzels on the Grand Canyon? How’s your sister, by the way? Your brother?  How’s your life?

I wouldn’t know any of these things…but I’m sure you’re aware of that, aren’t you? Well, then again, it’s been so long, so, maybe you aren’t. Do you even remember? Do you remember what I look like? The kind of music I like to listen to? Let me give you a hint – it hasn’t changed. Nothing really has.

Anyway, lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. God, I think about this one day over and over. We were at your house sitting at that old mustard kitchen table that your dad would always complain about. “It’s as rusty as your poker skills!” he would say to your mom. Everything about your house, however, always used to mesmerize me. The daisies that found a home in the center of your kitchen table – they were always so perfectly fresh, by the way. I never knew how your mother did it. The rosy tint of the bathroom we used to spend hours in. Sitting on the floor, taking turns painting each other’s faces with your mom’s floral makeup bag.

My favorite part about your house, though, was that tiny crawl space we would sneak in after your parents fell asleep on the couch. It was violet on the outside, but a brilliant shade of green on the inside – kind of like those orchids that sat in front of your porch in the spring. We would face each other in there, with flashlights, and pretend we were hiding from monsters or villains or aliens. Well, you were pretending, at least.

So on that day, your sister was having this horrible case of the chicken pox (even worse than the time I gave you them in the second grade after I slept over your house and said I was fine, when I really wasn’t fine). Your mom gave all of us these unbelievable honey cookies ‘cause she told us that honey was the best medicine for anytime anyone got sick. And honestly, those were the best cookies I’ve ever had, but I think that that one amazing memory with you and your family was even better.

You and I were wearing matching pajamas that night with sheep on them, remember? And it was a full moon so your brother would just sit there in his underwear and howl at the sky as if some sort of coyote or wolf would hear him and howl back. And your sister was half asleep on that mint couch adjacent to the TV, quieter than any other time we’d seen her before. And your mom and dad were snuggling on the couch, so in love, while mine, thankfully, were far, far away from that millisecond in time where something in my life actually felt right.

They got separated, P.

Last year, I spent three days a week in counseling, the other four tucked under the sheets of my bed – the one we used to tell secrets on – praying that there was some part of you, some bone in your scrawny body, that felt the fact that I wasn’t okay. Because even though we’ve slowly stopped saying “hi” to each other in the halls and avoided making eye contact at parties, I wonder about your life all the time. Because I used to be in it. And now, I don’t know how, or why, or when, or whatever, but now, I’m not. You and I? We are mere acquaintances that knows one too many of the other one’s crazy uncles.

Don’t kid yourself; you’re not the only friend I’ve ever had. But you used to be my best. And that’s something I’ll have to accept – look back on with a smile, but nothing more. Because you weren’t there. And maybe it’s not entirely your fault, but for a reason that I couldn’t explain, I wanted you to be there. It’s something that I’ve now learned to call “false hope”.

I can’t say that I miss you, though.

Missing someone is completely different from missing how things used to be. You meet tons of people in your lifetime, and each person is uniquely significant. So, I guess I just miss the memories and the relationship that we shared. The personalities we brought out in each other. We were quite a team, P. But now, I’ve learned to live without you. And I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever find someone like you again, but I’m okay with that. Are you? Are you even aware of my existence? Do you even care? Not that I care too much, but I just wonder sometimes.


*Burned with a lighter, and thrown into the kitchen sink*