A Million Signatures of Friendship

I caught crickets with the boy you would marry. “I’ll give you a quarter for the Queen,” I offered, and he dispensed the prize insects in glass Coke bottles. My cousins got to keep theirs on the fire escape but aghast at the sight of black crawlies in her home, Mom threw mine down the incinerator chute. I was so mad. The Cricket Catcher breathed restlessly and contrived guns from wooden clothes pins and soda can tabs. Who knew he would find and love my dear friend someday?

You were in a different class in elementary school but somehow I liked you. We still get a kick out of the way that I, Bathroom Monitor at lunch in fourth grade, had the girls wait for a stall in size order…because you were short.

Even if I’d journaled the way we clutched bellies aching in laughter, how does one record the telepathy that provoked it? I could’ve noted all the times you found me waiting on the stoop of your building after school but the smell of your home, of worn leather couches that invited me to stay? I showed you how to make Jello and bake out of Betty Crocker. You taught me generosity. Whether from sugar or hormones or real profundity, we cried harder than we laughed. The peals of hilarity, tears and confidences – a million signatures of friendship. You saw the dumbest, boldest, smartest things I did and the words that spilled from my pen; were moved by the poem I published in the eighth grade yearbook but asked in high school what the point was to the vignette. We wore honesty like skin and tread a hundred thousand steps between our homes, passing apartment buildings that boxed in the sky when we looked up. And you told me to make something of myself. The encouragement, acceptance, breakfast and TV dinner rituals: the muscle and fiber of a childhood.

If I erased you from those early pages, I’ll end up with more emptiness than story. We didn’t expect to follow our hopes, heartaches, regrets to two lives on opposite coasts full of joys of family and the tiredness that is our inheritance as Korean mothers. I could not have guessed your boy would one day walk the shiny halls of my old high school. He would think, eyes on the girl by the window, that his parents never felt what he has with such density. We are startled by time because we feel younger than we did when we knew everything at fourteen.

137 thoughts on “A Million Signatures of Friendship

  1. Oh dear new [internet] friend, HW, you managed to pierce my heart here, as my dearest childhood friend and I haven’t talked for the past several years… due to a misunderstanding, something of which would’ve never existed in our earlier lives]… her misunderstanding towards me. 😦 But I so appreciate how you hit the true childhood-friendship nail upon the head! Blessings.

  2. I can’t find your original post on this but I wanted to let you know that I finally saw the movie Brooklyn today. Of course me being me, I can’t help but point out all the ways it highlighted how much we are lacking in today’s world in relationships and the simplicity of courtship between men and women (the fact that courtship is an old fashioned word says a lot, eh?), but oh how I enjoyed this flick! 🙂

    • I think we don’t tire of courtship because it taps something real about men and women (much of which today’s feminist noise tries to muffle). But gee, talk about simplifying…that love scene in her basement room. SO unreal. I’ll just leave it at that. As for enjoying the flick, the Mr. liked it more than I did!

      • Lol, yeah that scene was pretty unrealistic, I agree! Courtship never gets old in my book, no matter what the feminists want to make us believe.

  3. I enjoyed reading about your childhood friendship. I was just commenting today that I was lucky to have made friends with both sexes but that as the years have flown, my friendships with my female friends have become deeper and meaningful and I certainly value them. I also
    have a very dear friend from school and our friendship has stood the test of time. How lucky am I!! 🙂

  4. This post is so touching and struck such a nerve that my emotions are all over the place with my reaction to it. It’s guttural, instinctive, and my first reaction was to say “wow” out loud. Well done.

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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