When I was eight, my parents moved from uptown to a few doors down from being downtown. We were basically next door to the first house that was downtown. Uptown was a really great place to live. People who came into and out of uptown were really good, exceptional people. Downtown was more where people wanted to be good but were not. The people who lived downtown didn't have money or the ability to be like the people in uptown. I still went to the same school, and as my dad was the mayor, we had all the town's resources in our hands.

The reason we moved downtown was to observe what was happening. I was instructed to only make friends from one side of the street. The left side of our house, on my way to school. I was popular at school, but I came to realize that none of the people who made me popular were really my friend in eighth grade. That's about the time when I met Fred. Fred was the kid who lived three doors down. He was scrawny, looked nice, but was always tired and worn down. It didn't matter what I did to try to cheer him up, he always looked beat down.

My first impression of Fred was that he was nice, kind, loving, but from the wrong side of town. He was going to stumble in life, and I just knew. The moment he said hi to me. We started to go to a specific park bench, meet, and hang out. I told my parents where I was going, and with who, but I never told them he was downtown. I guess at that point my parents assumed whomever I was with, boy or girl, my parents thought it was someone from uptown. Whether they knew their parents or not.

One time, when we were hanging out on the bench I mentioned my dad. I went on a rant about how he would disapprove of how we were friends. How mad he would be if he ever found out we were hanging out. If I was with him. He agreed. I would never tell my dad about where he was from or what his dad was like. Not at that time. But maybe when we were older, we could. Maybe now, we could. But definitely not then.

Eventually, Fred and I fell out of touch. I went on and did great things, and Fred stayed in town. He was still as kind, loving, and nice as ever. Still a beat-down rugged old man with four kids. But he will always be the kid three doors down who was my friend from middle to high school. He has done some bad things, as I thought he would. Fred lived three doors down, downtown. If he only had lived uptown, with me, my friends, my parents, his life would be so different from what it is now. Maybe he would have a better job than being what he is now.

The good news is, he's trying to improve his life. Make it better for his kids. I'm glad for him. He was always a survivor. He was my best friend, and I would have done anything for him because I know he would have done the same. Thanks to him, I really did have a friend. One real, true friend. It didn't matter where he was from or what he looked like. Only that he was truly a friend to me. Thank you, Fred, for everything.

I lived in the same spot for years. Who lived around me changed all the time. when I was around nine, a girl moved in with her family. She looked about my age. I tried to go over and say hi, but her dad scooped her into the house. When I rang the doorbell, her mother came to the door and said they were busy and to try again another day. I tried to push in or ask for her daughter. She looked awe-struck. She furiously told me to run along and go home. That my mother was probably looking for me. She slammed the door in my face and I ran home crying to my dad.

My mom died when I was young. My dad was around on the weekends only, and my uncle ended up watching me on weekdays. He said he would watch me until I was thirteen because my mother made him promise he would watch me after she died. He was keeping his promise. I went to school and did as many sports and clubs as I could. My uncle drank and smoked a lot. I never wanted to be around that. I was tired a lot, especially after I turned thirteen.

You see, looking after myself was a large task. Keeping our house in order was a bigger concern to me. I never had any siblings or a nanny to help me. I guess I always knew I'd grown up on the wrong side of the tracks, but once I got my first impression of Their daughter, I really knew. You see, she was like the pretty princess three doors down. She had it all. As an eighth-grader, she was popular and her dad was the mayor. She had it all, truly. I was never jealous, but I did wish sometimes I was more like her.

Eventually, we started to hang out on one of the park benches. One time she was telling me about her dad. How he would disapprove if he ever found out that we hung out. He did despise everyone downtown. Everyone chose to ignore it. But she didn't care. She was my friend and she was going to be my friend through and through. Her dad may have despised me, but she didn't care. And that's what mattered.

My first impression was exactly my first one. Years later when she knocked on my door for the first time before she went off to college to reconnect with me, I knew my impression was accurate. I knew that she was really the princess three doors down. I was like the stable boy to her, but I was her friend. She treated me like an equal, and that's what matters. We will always remember each other, from being the kid three doors down on the right or left side. But to us, we would remember each other as friends forever.

February 05, 2022 02:06

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