Twenty four years ago, the person who I thought was my best friend horribly betrayed me. And in a quick motion, the friendship ended. She later sent a nasty letter to me that was intercepted by her father and a copy was sent to my parents. In a snooping spree, I found the letter, skimmed it, laughed at the contents, and made a point of publicly ripping it up in front of my parents.
We needed to let go of the past.
In some respects, I don’t know that I did. I haven’t spoken to this person in, literally, over twenty years. I have had no contact with her and have not yearned for contact with her.
But, for some reason, today, I started typing in names of people I haven’t seen since I moved to Germany in 1989 or graduated from college in the mid 90’s. I needed to see their faces one more time, touch their memories and see that they are well.
And I did. I found my crush from my sophomore year of high school. I was madly infatuated with that young man. Wrote his name all over my journal and dreamt about what it would be like to be his girlfriend. And, then, the summer hit and the crush ended and we went our separate ways. And it was nice to see that he is married and has children and works as an artist on the west coast. Good for him.
I found a young man I knew in college. Of course, now, he isn’t quite that young of a man. But he still looks relatively the same. And he’s married. And has daughters. And works in North Carolina. And, for all intents and purposes, he is well. And, for this I am happy.
And then, my old friend’s name came back to me, those syllables for which I have nurtured a loathing and a sense of foolish animosity…the whispered through my mind. And I started looking. And looking. And, eventually, I found someone who might match her. But I wasn’t certain, but I noticed a relative’s name so I looked up that person.
Because, after twenty plus years, I needed to see her one more time. I didn’t want to talk to her. I really had nothing to say, positive or negative. But I needed to know that she was….okay? well? happy?
Five letters for the mother’s first name. Six for the last. And there was a picture on Facebook. Unfamiliar. Didn’t seem right. But I clicked. And found her pictures.
And there was her late son, a young man I knew from youth group who died in 1989 in a car accident. I haven’t seen his face since 1991 when it was a picture on the wall in the living room. But the moment I saw his smile, I knew it was him.
I had found the family.
The last time I had talked to this woman, she had yelled at me for three straight hours. For things I’m not certain that I really had done. But, after over twenty-four years, there’s no point in trying to establish what is real and what is my imagined memories. Those moments are dried up husks that I have let filter through my fingers. I can still remember the anger in the woman’s voice. But I also remember the powerful love she had for her daughter. And after twenty-four years, maybe I was wrong? Maybe I wasn’t? It just doesn’t even matter to speculate beyond these last sets of sentences.
So I started cross-referencing. I looked up one piece of information. Followed it to another.
And then I found her.
Twenty-four years ago, this woman was whom I thought was my sister. She knew all of my secrets, all of my dreams. She saw me at my most foolish. She saw me at my best, my worst. She pierced the thick shell of shyness that kept me introverted at the youth group and encouraged me to talk. We walked mountain paths together. We shared stories and finished each other’s sentences and talked and talked and talked about life and dreams and nightmares.
And then, our friendship came to a disastrous ending and people who knew her and knew how much I cared about her would ask about her. Even my mom, to this day, has asked about this woman. And I didn’t have an answer.
But I do now. I saw her face and recognized her. It took some scratching at my memories, but when I saw the profile picture, I knew I had found my old friend.
And, finally, the bitterness just wasn’t there anymore. The old anger. The old animosity. The old sadness that she would hurt me and then go on to hurt my parents.
And, in a way, I found a little more peace within myself. It really just didn’t matter anymore.
I had found my way past all those old hurts that really are inconsequential.
I know that in reading this I am going to sound like a stalker. And I really don’t want to come across that way. But it’s good to able to touch those memories and find my finger tips coming away clean. It’s kind of like blowing on a dandelion puff that’s pregnant with seeds, just waiting for the right gust of wind.
Or the deep breath of a little girl whose dreams are bigger than her landscape.
Or a woman who still clings to the child inside of her. The woman who kneels down and will still pluck the heavy dandelion and angle it in such a way that she can get off almost every seed except one or two that stubbornly cling to the under side of the blossom’s head.
I love watching dandelion seeds floating on the wind. If I could, I would love to have those tattooed across my body, but unless I can find the right artist, that would never work. Because to capture those on my skin would be to lessen their impact…they are spirited. They are tactile dreams. They are the past being released to the wind so that I can sow little bits and pieces of good memories into the future.
My old friend is well. She is a teacher and is getting her doctorate. And I’m happy for her. I really am. After twenty four years, it’s nice to finally close that part of my life and put that box in my mental attic.
Now, it’s time to go outside and pick some dandelions…
Make a wish.