Happy birthday! You’re one of the rare friends who was born in the same month I was. I can’t keep track of most of my friends’ and relatives’ birthdays, but somehow I can always remember yours. I wonder how you’re being celebrated today. I wonder if you, like me, denied at first that you’re in your late thirties?! I wonder if your life is full and beautiful,
and if you feel weary or excited about living another year.
I wonder where you are, what you’re doing. It’s been 20 years, you know, since those last letters. We lived in separate states and somehow drifted apart after being best friends. But I still miss you and wonder where you are.
I wonder if you became a hotel manager, and if that got you onto cruise ships like you wanted. I wonder if you went on to study other languages after you aced Spanish in high school. I wonder if you married the young man you last told me about. I wonder if you still play on a volleyball team.
The first time I met you was when you were enrolling at the school where my dad was teaching. My family had just moved to Michigan. You and I were both new to the school, we were both the same age, and we became instant friends. You told me your dad wasn’t there that evening and I asked if he was at a meeting. In my world, if the dad wasn’t with the family, he was at a meeting. But you said your parents divorced, and you didn’t know where your dad was. I didn’t care; I had no prejudice or emotion, I just knew that you and I were friends.
Remember the fun, carbon copies we laboriously filled out in our spare time in school, playing we were secretaries taking phone orders? We felt so grown up, and you were completely accepting of my naive, country-bumpkin ways. You were opinionated but always soft-spoken, graceful and elegant with your long blond hair. I was perfectly comfortable with you, but still always felt a little in awe of you. Probably because you came from such a different world from mine, I thought you knew so much more than I.
When my family left Michigan, we exchanged photos, and you wrote on mine: “Thanks for being the kind of friend I could tell things to. I hope we always stay this way.” We were twelve, and what do twelve year olds know about how life changes? Nothing. But what makes me sad is that there was a kinship that was real and I think we could find it again.
But I don’t know where you are. You must be like me in that you don’t seem to have a Facebook account. And because of confidentiality issues, I don’t want to expose your surname or your mom and sister’s names on this world-wide invasive web. We’re both pretty much grown up by now and I’d be so happy if we could find each other and share our stories.
It would probably be my best birthday gift ever.
love to you, my long-ago friend,
PS–If anyone out there knows where Shasta is, please let me know!