We had a reunion of sorts last week. Some old friends of ours who moved away to Australia 4 years ago finally came back to Brooklyn for a visit. The younger siblings were just babies when our friends moved away, but Mia and her old friend could not have been more excited to see each other after all those years. Quite honestly, we’re all sort of surprised at how much the girls remember. They were only 3 when they parted, but they still often refer to each other as best friends. I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect as each girl had built up the moment so much as the week of their visit drew near, but after an initial awkward moment of frozen faces and long, silent stares, the girls got on as if 4 years never passed and had the best time all week.
Mia and her friend have known each other since they were just a few weeks old (her mom was my first “mom” friend) and the girls spent a lot of time together in those early years. As a new parent, there are a lot of “firsts” that are significant and these 2 shared many “firsts”. At age 2, they were both starting to string together words into sentences, but I’ll never forget overhearing them engaging in what would become their first real conversation over snacks, sitting down across from each other at the table:
“I like your bib.”
“Thanks. It has cows on it.”
So I wonder, do you ever forget your childhood best friend? Because I never forgot. I remember. Her name was Lana and she lived next door, only our friendship didn’t consist of just playdates at each others’ houses – it was more unusual than that. We lived high up on the 14th floor of a tall apartment building in Queens and we shared a balcony that was separated by a green rippled plastic divider. I don’t remember exactly how I met Lana, but she must have been playing out on her balcony when I was doing the same and I think one day we started talking to each other after our curiosities got the best of us. I must have been 5 or so. Our friendship began on that balcony, each of us staying on our respective sides, laying on our tummies on the astroturfed floor and talking to each other through the narrow crack between floor and divider. It came to be where we’d call on each other daily after school and on weekends, calling out the other’s name if we were the first one out on the balcony. “Lana!”, “Lana!”, I remember yelling, my face either peered around the edge of the divider so I can see her side of the balcony on my tippy-toes, or with my face pressed to the floor to look under that crack. If she were home she’d come rushing out of her apartment, but there were days when I would call for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and I’d finally give up, sadly going back inside. Eventually, the plastic divider that separated our balconies would crack near the bottom edge from the both of us tugging at it so much, and one day we were able to pull it apart from the frame like a trap door, slipping through to the other side to play.
I do remember going to her house for playdates and she coming over to mine. We must have as I can’t imagine that we did this when the weather got super cold (though I do remember calling her name to see if she were home all bundled up in a coat). Our friendship, however, consisted largely of our balcony playdates. It was like our own secret passageway. I don’t know when Lana moved, but she did. I remember peering into the next door balcony often after she moved away, hoping that I’d see my best friend, but I never saw her again.
I’d be curious to see if Mia and her friendship with her first best friend grows. Since they were so young when she moved away, I wonder if they both created memories of each other based on photos and hearing old stories rather than from real memories. Now that they are seven, their connection to each other will become that much more solid and real. One thing is clear. There was always a special bond between these two and I doubt that they’ll ever forget each other, regardless of what happens.