We were inseparable from the beginning. We slept at each other’s houses and traded our deepest, darkest, thirteen-year-old secrets. We baked cookies and hid from her brothers and whispered late into the night when the house fell asleep. From the attic we watched movies I wasn’t allowed to watch at home. Her mom cooked me countless dinners, and her house unlocked a sense of freedom in me that needed turning. She taught me real friendship is having the courage to show up, but I’m not sure I ever really learned the lesson.
We remained best friends for most of our childhood, and it crushed me when her family left the country to become missionaries during our freshman year of high school. My living, breathing best friend became a flat scrawl of cursive on a piece of notebook paper. We grew apart as distant relationships often do, but I hold most of the blame. I stopped writing, my gaze focused solely on my own high school survival, and I stopped wondering if she would ever move back.
We’re Facebook friends now. The kind who gather news of each others lives through the occasional update. From a distance, I watched her circle the globe and serve Jesus and raise her daughter to speak fluent Spanish. I don’t know her anymore, not really. I don’t take out the memories and hold them to the light, I don’t wear them out with the handling, or polish them until they shine. They sit in cobwebs in the deepest recesses of my mind.
She sent me a message recently. Honest. Vulnerable. Can we have the courage to show up in each other’s lives somehow, across the decades and across state lines? I sat on her message for 24 hours–fear kept me from responding. Like a potter with clay, the intervening years took the raw material of thirteen-year old girls and shaped us into forty-year old women. Between us, we’ve lived in five different countries and married our high school sweethearts and had wildly different life experiences. I’m not sure she will like this re-shaped version of me. She liked who I used to be, but I don’t know if she will like who I am now.
I don’t know how this story will end, but I want to remain open to possibilities. The potter will continue to shape me into a new creation, day by day, decision by decision. Perhaps having the courage to show up is all it takes to start, and time will take care of the rest.