We had our own circle, the three of us. Everyone in school knew who we were. We traveled in threes, never letting anyone else in to our world. We spent our weekends having sleepovers, roasting marshmallows, hanging out by the pool, and dancing (you two were more of the dancers while I stuck to sports). Our childhood revolved around each other, and we were never lonely. We had something special.
Our group formed in kindergarten. It was the first day of school and we were exploring what we thought was the biggest playground in the world. I couldn’t wait to be reunited with you, my best friend who was practically gifted to me when I was a baby. You were my first and only friend for six years, and if we’re going to spill embarrassing secrets, you were also my first kiss. Once I found you on the playground on our first day of school, you soon realized I brought someone with me. You probably don’t remember, but you were jealous to see me with someone other than you. I introduced you to the girl in my class who shared a cubby with me. I imagine that I was proper and polite, like a little adult introducing two new employees. However, it probably went something like, “she’s in my class and we share a cubby. Let’s go play on the jungle gym!” I never imagined you two would become friends too, let alone stay by my side until college.
Birthdays came and went. We’d plan our parties after school, mapping out the decorations, color scheme, location, who was invited and who wasn’t. I was mostly in charge of your parties, being the controlling and detail oriented person that I am. You guys didn’t seem to mind…too much. You knew I was the temperamental one, the overly vocal one, and the alpha of our group. Y’all let me have my way because I know it was probably a lot easier.
Every year we’d rush to call each other to announce who our new teachers would be. We hardly ever had the same teacher, but in the third grade we somehow managed to snag the best teacher. I’m sure the school messed up putting all three of us in the same class. It’s probably something they’d later regret. Being nine years old, seeing my best friends everyday is what I considered to be the best year of my life. You’d think we’d get tired of each other, being locked at the hip for eight hours, but we’d still demand to spend weekends together too.
It was hard when partners were supposed to be chosen. We’d argue and try to manipulate the teachers into letting us stay a group of three, but we hardly ever pulled it off. It was hard to choose between each other, so we came up with a system. We rotated every time so each of us got to be partners with each other. Things always had to be fair.
Don’t get me wrong, we did fight. There were times we’d had too much of each other, or one of us would get their feelings hurt when the other two would have a sleepover. We had some knock-out-drag-out fights, but we always managed to come back to each other. The silent treatments never lasted too long.
I’m sorry for leaving you two in middle school. Changing schools was a hard decision that was made, and I hated leaving y’all. You guys were my security blanket, and without you, I was lost (literally because I didn’t know how to navigate through this strange new school). It was hard for me to make friends at first. I may have been the alpha of our group of three, but outside of that I was shy and timid. Thank you for taking my late night calls, going to see movies with me, and listening to me brag about how great my new school was even though it wasn’t that great at first. Thank you for being there for me.
I think it shocked people how close we stayed for so long. In my head, I imagine jealous, mean girls watching us from the corner of the playground and gossiping about how annoying we were, even though they were just jealous. I imagine them waiting for the day one of our fights would be our last. In reality, no one probably cared what we were doing, but we did remain friends, and I think that’s impressive.
However, we weren’t as close as we were when we were kids. When we were reunited in high school, I knew you two had changed since I’d been gone.
You both started to define yourselves as people, figuring out who you really were. I already knew who I was. I think I knew who I was the day I was born. So it was hard for me to understand why you two were acting differently. You both started hanging out with people we just didn’t hang out with before. Slowly, you both found your groups, as did I too, I suppose, but I was still the alpha, and it was my duty to make sure we didn’t lose our friendship.
You started hanging with, for lack of a better word, the alternatives – the liberal group of kids who listened to music no one ever heard of, challenged social injustice, drank weird types of tea, and used Tumblr. You started hanging out with them more. You invited me some, but I never really enjoyed myself. You used to be my shy, fuzzy haired friend who wore her hair in a ponytail for two years after a boy made fun of you. Now you were becoming your own person.
You started hanging out with the people in your classes more. You weren’t in the honor classes we were in, so you had to make other friends. You were always the popular one. Everyone wanted to be your friend and I had to run those people off sometimes. You always had a boyfriend because boys have liked you since we were kids. You taught me everything I know about boys. You started hanging out with them more in high school, and since we didn’t have classes together, I rarely saw you.
I found myself mostly with the friends I made in middle school. We weren’t the popular kids, but we were kind of like second in command to the popular kids. I spent Friday nights at football and basketball games, or riding around town in cars because there wasn’t a lot to do in our hometown. After school I went to practices, had study groups with people in my classes, and had sleepovers with people who weren’t y’all.
We made our friendship work throughout high school, occasionally reuniting for movie nights and sleepovers, but things were never the same – we grew up.
I realized at our high school graduation, when we were getting ready to start completely different journeys, that I owe you two my childhood. If not for y’all, I wouldn’t have had the amazing childhood I did. My childhood shaped me as a person, and you two made me who I am.
Now I get updates on your lives mostly through social media. I’m proud of both of y’all. You’re both doing different things than me right now, but you’re grown women now, and you’re enjoying your lives. You have your shit together, and I couldn’t be more proud.
My love for you two will never fade. We don’t talk as much as we should, and I can’t remember the last time we were all three together, but I do think about y’all. Every time I think of my childhood, I think of y’all – my childhood best friends.
Thank you for being my friends. Thank you for my childhood.