Anonymiss in DC

{July 18, 2011}   Musings on another life event

I really should stop getting so personal on my wide-open public blog, but I feel the need to reflect on another happening in my twenty-something life.

First, some history.

It was the summer before I started kindergarten when we met for the first time. Like any five year old on a hot day, I was running around my yard in my bathing suit, leaping gleefully through my parents’ garden sprinkler.  The sun was getting dangerously low in the sky– the time of day when my parents’ announcement that it was time to go inside was imminent– when I saw her down the street.  She was too far away for me to see her face, but I could tell that she was about my age and that she was looking at me too. Wondering who I was.

I’m not a particularly religious person, but it was like we were fated to have met that night– like God looked down and saw these two little girls and thought “These two need each other.” Maggie, as I’ll call her, had just moved to my neighborhood, and miraculously, she was the same age and was going to be in my kindergarten class, and we would be riding the school bus together.

From that day on, we were pretty much inseparable.  Long afternoon sessions of My Little Pony and Barbies, arts and crafts, preparing ourselves for a world without training wheels… learning to swim…swapping our favorite books. Before we knew it we were full-fledged pre-teens stressing over acne and our first tubes of lipstick, fiercely competing for better grades though we never would admit it, even to ourselves…

Then, in high school,  “it” happened. The details aren’t important. It had to do with a boy, as these things almost often  do.  And suddenly we weren’t just “growing apart”; we were headed our own separate ways.  Without each other.  Sure we were still friends; we had countless heart to hearts about it; we cried, we hugged. We were over it, we said.  We never meant to hurt each other.  It was silly. It wasn’t worth it.

But things were never the same.  Maybe we weren’t over it, really, and we just thought we were. Maybe we needed more time than we were willing to give ourselves.

But time had other plans. Soon, we were off to college. Different colleges, in different states. A fresh start for each of us. Maybe it was good.

Now, somehow, ten years have gone by since we went off to school, and Maggie, my best friend forever and ever, isn’t really a part of my life.

I went to her wedding three years ago. (In case you’re wondering, she didn’t marry him, and neither did I.)  It’s funny how things work out.  I always imagined that I’d be her maid of honor; that I’d be arranging her train and holding her bouquet as she said her vows.  I wasn’t.  I wasn’t there the night before, giggling with her and drinking champagne on her final night as a single woman.  When she walked down the aisle, arm in arm with her new husband,  I realized that I would have to introduce myself to him.  That I would tell him my name and he would shake my hand, placing me, without a thought, in some vague drawer in his memory with the names of people whose lives at some point intersected with his bride’s. Nothing.

These realizations stung, and they still do, almost three years later.  But even though my part in Maggie’s wedding day wasn’t what I imagined at 6, or even 16, I was still there.  In some small way, I still got to share in this momentous occasion in her life.  I got to see her all dolled up– beautiful, and glowingly happy. I hope that at some moment, she thought what I thought: that I was there, and that I will always be here, even if we’re not exactly the women we thought we’d grow up to be.

I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that we don’t get to pick what happens to us, who we become. It’s ok.  We may not have the present, or even the future, but we had, and will always have, our childhood, our adolescence– the good times and the tough ones.  We share beautiful memories. And she will always be a part of who I have become.

In any case, where I was really going with this was that last week, while I was off on a business trip, my mom called to let me know that Maggie is pregnant with her first child. My heart felt like someone skipping a rock across the surface of a lake. Skip, skip, sink.

I lay awake for a while in my hotel room bed, just mulling. Funny how I got giddy for a second– how I wanted to call her and ask her what it feels like, how she found out, is she afraid, what will she name him/her. And in the next second, I realized we don’t have that kind of relationship anymore.  We’re not going to talk for hours and hours about it. I’m not going to be there when she has this baby.  I am not a part of her life.

And it stings. Even though I have other friends– great friends for whom I will throw bridal and baby showers, and whose babies I will kiss and cuddle and love.  Suddenly, it seems, we are really, really adults, Maggie and I, only we’re not adults together.

Every once and a while, someone says to me, “Just call her.” As if, you know, our lives are like a Nicholas Sparks’ novel. I’ll pick up the phone and she’ll answer and she’ll somehow know why I’m calling and there’ll be a thick, emotional pause, and she’ll say “I’ve missed you so much.” And we’ll cry and it will be like none of “it” ever happened.

Maybe I will call her.  Sure things will never be the way they were, but maybe that’s good.  Maybe we could have a brand new friendship.  Maybe.  But then there’s a part of me that says “Let it be.” She’s happy, she’s moved on, and so should I. Grow up, already, Anonymiss. She doesn’t need you. You don’t need her.  Stop being so sentimental all the time. Enough.

So I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe there isn’t one.

For now, I just hope that Maggie’s happier than ever, and that this baby brings her and her husband all the joy in the world. Maybe, in five or six years, that little baby will be off playing in their yard, sharing secrets with his/her newfound best friend, dreaming of all the things they will do when they’re “grown-ups”, and and Maggie will smile knowingly, happily, and think of her old best friend.

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