The Never-Ending Story (Now That I’ve Found You Again)
June 8, 2021.
“Last night I was craving Mentos and wanting to watch Spy Kids,” she pauses. “I was trying to figure out why this morning… and I realized that’s because I knew was going to see you today.”
I stare at my childhood friend, almost 26 years of friendship, of loose teeth and big dreams, of a love that I will never find again. To be a woman is to be told that the greatest love is a romantic love and this is a bold faced lie.
We met when I was four years old and we’ve been friends almost longer than we’ve been alive.
This is the importance of friendship.
Her eyes were like galaxies. We leaned into a friendship that would last decades, penpals with Lisa Frank stickers, out-of-town road trips, years of moves to different states and countries.
There is no greater love than a true friend.
We played in gardens as children, in large fields with clothing decorated by grass stains, our mothers patching our jeans and refusing to buy a new pair. Missing belt buckles and climbing snow piles and broken jump ropes and pogo sticks on asphalt. The pool opened for the summer right before my birthday on Memorial Day Weekend. The smell of chlorine takes me back to all the birthdays we spent together and autumn leaves remind me that she is almost another year older.
With her I discovered adventure, went to our first concert, and played with frogs, snakes, and random insects in the backyard. We turned over rocks and skinned knees and created a new universe that only children know and a few adults remember. With her I am reminded that this world exists because we created it, together.
She lives in my dreams and there is nostalgia from our childhood wrapped in her voice when she says my name.
The world was ours. The world is ours.
With her I found a home.
We sit near the shore of the ocean, not too far from where we grew up in Connecticut. When I was nine years old she hid in the back of the U-Haul truck until her parents found her and we cried when the moving truck pulled out of the driveway. We wouldn’t see each other for another five years, yet every single time we found our way back.
“Wait. Are you bleeding? Maybe you cut your leg on the roses?” She asks me, pointing to the bush below the wall.
I shrug. “I don’t think so.” I turn my leg to the side and see three identical scratches etched into my skin.
“That looks so cool!” My friend points at my leg and we watch the blood trickle down from below my knee to my ankle. We laugh and I feel no pain.
This will be such a cool scar.
I tell her that in the past (a few years ago) that I would have rushed to find a bandaid. Now I sit and wait.
The sun dries the blood on my leg and I taste the ocean on my tongue.
Here’s to a new life.
She reminds me to be myself. She reminds me that I can be whoever I want to be, that it is never too late for anything, and that I am amazing just the way that I am. Her presence is a gift. She feels like a warm hug, like a grilled cheese on a rainy day, an unopened pack on Pokémon cards waiting on the living room table.
Her home is exactly how I expected it to be, full of life, art, plants, color, and smells that take me back to our childhood. In her home she has lived. Her arms are permanently decorated with life and on her arms are never-ending stories.
I sit right in the middle of the hardwood floor, close my eyes, and inhale.
In the backyard I follow her to her garden. Hands in the dirt, she grabs something from the ground, wipes it on her dress, and hands me a radish.
“It’s kind of spicy!” She warns, laughing, and yes it is as we chew and laugh. Following her lead, I kick off my shoes.
I am right at home.
Somewhere along the line I tried to convince myself that adults only wear shoes and business suits. I attempted to fit my creativity into a briefcase in the name of capitalism. I let rose pedals hit the ground without any admiration and forgot to pick a pedal off the ground to place behind my ear.
There is so much more to life.
To go from having everything to having nothing close to what I had before, I wondered how much I actually needed. Last year I moved six times and in the midst of all the instability, depression, the bouts of triggers from my PTSD, I still felt incredibly loved and cared for. I had a roof over my head, more than enough food on my plate, a couch to sit and drink tea with my close friends, and friends and family that loved me.
I no longer had career in the way that I once believed career should be. I needed tools for my mental health and I struggled when people asked what I did for a living. I did a lot of things. Right now I was healing and trying to figure out if I would tell people I was, in fact, disabled. Some days were harder than others and I had absolutely no control over this. So, I treated myself like a plant and gave myself plenty of water and sunlight.
Support is so important.
And my friends treated me like I was human and understood that some days were just bad days and I was doing my best. And they loved me anyways.
I found that I craved the beautiful oceanfront home only when I turned my back away from the ocean.
I was on the wrong path. And despite my incredibly difficult situation in Juarez, something shook me and woke me up.
What joy it is to learn a lesson like this so young.
I discovered that the blood on my leg makes me feel free, the vulnerability on my tongue is liberating, and the dirt between my toes makes me feel empowered.
I need grounding. I need community. I need laughter. I need play. And so I told her, that for the first time in the last three and a half years, I found myself no longer playing survival.
She told me we were thriving and yes we were thriving and yes I could feel it deep in my heart deep in my soul.
I told my friends I loved them. Up north I sat with another one of my closest friends and her family on the front porch. In the south, I laid in the grass outside, toes stretched to the heavens, my dog running around with her frisbee. I wondered what more did I need?
Somehow, I found gratitude in the strong shake that removed me from the horrid train ride that is thinking that all I am is what I do for a living and money is all there is. I had a choice and decided that I would rather listen to that wake up call now than later.
I wanted to live a simple life and here was the opportunity. So, I took it.
A life of toes in the grass, legs and scars that told a story, a life I fully explored, in which I practiced radical self care. A life where I belonged to myself and my community.
And as I played with her daughter in the backyard, the beloved and esteemed, taking peeks at airplanes and chasing birds, those bangs moving from side to side in the midst of laughter, I thought to myself-
Just let the blood dry. I promise it will all be okay.