My daughter has several little friends, AND a best friend. Shhh. Don’t shout too loudly for joy. You might jinx it. Newly turned seven, so I guess no longer a baby (though she’ll always be my baby), but it still boggles my mind. I mean, she can be a bit of a control freak (like her father), and she can get really agitated when she doesn’t get her way (like her father). She even has a really hard time adjusting to change (like her father). So it amazes me (in a very good way), that despite being so much like me, she has still engendered herself to other human beings who like her for who she is. But then again, I’ve always known she was amazing (like her father).
You see, I had one friend growing up, one and that was it. I was dreadfully shy and a bit of a nerd (I loved the library, and figuring out the lowest common denominator). But there was this one kid who didn’t seem to mind any of that: Robert. Because I was pretty introverted, he had to do most of the talking when we were together, but he didn’t seem to mind. Maybe that’s why the friendship maintained itself, because I didn’t get in the way by talking.
Anyway, we were in the same grade in school, and we didn’t live too far away from each other (it was easy to ride shotgun to his house in the old Chevy Nova). Indeed, when he and his mom moved to a new house, my family even moved into his old one. It was almost like I was him, just a little later. Even though we were in the same grade in school, he was nearly a year older than I was, so he would impart to me knowledge about life and girls (he still does). It took me 30 years to realize he didn’t know what he was talking about.
But, as happens with childhood friendships way too often, we drifted apart. He went into the armed forces, I went off to college, and we just lost touch. I’ll admit I was caught up in so much the world had to offer that I didn’t even miss his companionship for a long time. I mean, he was a world away, and I got caught up in the crowd. But things have a way of coming back around, and our friendship was one of those things.
When I got a Facebook account in 2008, little did I know all of the people who would crawl out of the woodwork to send me friend requests. So many people who hadn’t even been my friends when we inhabited the same general space were scrambling to earn a place in my life. It was ironic, honestly. But I accepted them one and all because you know how it was when you were the unpopular kid and how you craved the acceptance of the popular ones. Even if you didn’t want to be like them. Facebook was a good cure for that illness. Suddenly, anyone could be popular just because it was convenient to see their recommendations and friend request the previously friendless. I didn’t mind. At all.
But then Robert showed up as one of my friend requests, and finally there was the one person who had really been my friend from the start, the one guy who had been there for me through thick and then when no one else would give me the time of day. And those memories all came rushing back. J couldn’t believe I had let us lose touch like that, so casually. Because having him in my life wasn’t just the memories. We still had more to share and to help each other with. So I accepted his friend request. And I’m really glad I did. We caught up quickly, and I even traveled back to Philly to hang for a couple of days. It was like the old days, but at the same time it wasn’t. It was something new as well, getting to know each other as we are now. And we aren’t going to take that for granted again.
So I see my Alexa enjoying her little friends at her birthday party. I see her having disagreements but getting over them. I see her learning to take turns and talking on the phone with her buddies, and I’m reminded of how wonderful and grateful I am for her to have that. And I’m reminded of how I was given a chance to rediscover that for myself. And how good it feels.