Eight years ago
We were both only ten years old. We met in Maths class, your first ever lesson in North Carolina – the teacher paired us together because we were both quiet and left without friends. I said hi to you, feeling the most awkward I ever had, and I could feel the tips of my ears go bright cherry red. You smiled a bit and quickly looked back down, almost as if you couldn't bear to hold that expression for any longer. We gradually started to get closer. We started talking for the first time - I found out that you were from Virginia, and you moved here only a few years ago. Your father was abusive, and your mother finally worked up the courage to take you away from the monster. You and she left in the middle of the night last year when you were eight and drove away in the battered Jeep that your father owned. You rushed into an airport. Your mom managed to get you both on a plane to North Carolina. You landed and had to squat in an abandoned shed in the middle of nowhere. After that, your mom got a job as a cleaner, and you were finally saved up enough to be able to rent an apartment. Then she got another job and some financial aid form the government and you were able to enrol in school. Your first ever class was 5E at Great Oak Elementary School, and, coincidentally, that was the class I was in.
We sat together for lunch. We paired together for projects. We completed assessments and complained about the classroom teacher whom we didn’t like together. I felt like I had finally found a friend – someone who could truly understand me. I felt so comfortable, so happy, so alive and me when I was with you. You were my world, and I was yours. We were the perfect pair, the very best of friends, the kids that teachers and students alike would point out as promising. Our lives had just been sparked aflame and we couldn’t have felt happier. You had a special place in my heart that was yours and yours only.
Seven years ago
The first day of middle school was both exciting and nerve-wracking for the both of us. Our parents had already become very familiar and close, and you and your mom carpooled with us so that we could step into middle school for the first time together.
We stood in front of the open heavy wooden doors of Great Oak Middle School, and I could feel our hearts fluttering and beating inside our chests. You cut your hair short the very day before, I remember, just so that you could have a fresh start in a new school. We held hands, took a deep breath, and stepped inside. The other kids were streaming in alongside us, familiar and unfamiliar faces all blended together, and our faces were so full of bewilderment and wonder that our parents couldn’t help but laugh. I hugged my dad goodbye, you your mom, and we were starting our first day of high school already.
When we got our timetables, we were both incredibly disappointed to find out that we were separated into different core classes and had no shared periods together. However, this didn’t stop us from remaining best friends and being together every break time. We would organise a meeting place at the beginning of each day and go there at recess to sit together, eat, and chat. We got used to middle school life and began to enjoy the different teachers and classes.
Five years ago
We started taking the bus home. Almost suddenly I felt like that was the only time we were actually spending any quality time together. Sometimes at break times I wouldn’t even see you, though I would be actively looking. Sometimes I would see you with some friends you made in your new core class, and we would wave to each other, but it would become so awkward that I would just walk past without stopping for a chat. I felt like I was being almost pushed out of your life, but when we were alone together it would feel like we were young all over again, and still the very best friends. I told myself that it was natural, that friendship groups change, but the realisation that I’m not your best friend anymore still hurt me.
Four years ago
We had graduated to Great Oak High School, but I barely even see you around the school anymore. At break times I would go to the school library and read, sometimes wandering around the school in hopes that you would be too. But when we did meet, all that would happen was a casual greeting. I would stop to have a small chat with you, but you often didn’t notice and kept on walking. I would be left there standing as if I was just an acquaintance and you had many better things to do that do make some small talk with me. You moved houses and we no longer lived three to five minutes away from each other, but instead it would take up to thirty-five minutes for me to reach your new home by car. You started taking a different bus and even that small pocket of time for us to connect and chat was gone. My world suddenly seemed grey compared to the colourful life I lived when we were still together as best friends. We would wave to each other, but that covered the majority of our interactions. I wished that it was back in Grade 5 and I had the amazing you all to myself, and I knew that was selfish, but I felt like I was becoming a small, irrelevant person in your life. I made new friends, but the special place in my heart was still reserved for you.
Two years ago
I tried to talk to you about our deteriorating friendship many times, but you just ignored me and pushed past with your new group of friends. I thought that even if you told me straight to my face that we should go separate ways, I would be okay with it and just move on, but you kept on ignoring me and somehow that felt worse.
When we graduated high school, we went in different ways. I went to prom, and so did you, and we tossed our hats into the air at the end, but we never talked. We never acknowledged each other, apart from a few smiles. By then, I already knew that I wasn’t an important person to you anymore. And that was okay with me by then – people change, and you’ve made new friends and chosen your path, and I’ve done the same.
I feel almost as comfortable with my new two friends as I did with you in Elementary School. I still have your contact, and sometimes we would exchange a small, polite talk online, but that’s about as much interaction we had. We go to different universities – I don’t even know where you attend. I started working, and I think you did too, but now we are almost completely separated.
My new friends are incredibly supportive, and I hope your new ones are too. And just to let you know, you still have that special place in my heart.