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 also 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, the bathroom monitor during lunch in fourth grade, had the girls wait 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. You have me crying at work in my car. Thank you for being my friend 

    Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

    • So glad you were able to remember her, T. I watch my boy giggle (not nine yet, he doesn’t work at being cool) and laugh helplessly with his friend…over nothing, really. And see myself with her, the kids who delighted in so many things just because we could share the experience.

  2. Lovely and bittersweet memories. I lost my childhood friend a few years back. Sadly we had drifted apart, something I have to learn to live with!

  3. A touching story D. Crickets sometimes invade our house. Who knows how they get in. I catch them and put them back outside where they belong, and where they can sing to me on summer nights. –Curt

  4. I love those precious friendships that fill our childhood. There are a few people who when I look in their faces I’m 15, 8, 22 all over again and time stops. I hope she read this, D! Beautiful tribute.

    • Great way of putting it, D, how time stops with them. I made her cry – and she’s not the tearful type. =) Our relationship’s run really by email the last decade or two, with her still back in NY. But it’ll always be real with her. The way we can look back at our struggles and joys in the light of revelation is so interesting and such a blessing. Thanks for sharing in this.

      D.

  5. You took me vicariously back into childhood again. Laughter, close friendship, fun times and the transition to maturity where the reality of life introduced you both to heartaches. Most eloquently rendered too. 🙂

  6. “I caught crickets with the boy you would marry”
    “We wore honesty like skin”
    “passing apartment buildings that boxed in the sky when we looked up.”
    “They are the muscle and fiber of a childhood.”

    Great writing HW.

    • Well, it at least looked good enough for you to attempt it (and for my son to race me in the eating) that I’m not sure cooking per se is where you should fault me. Perhaps the measurements were off. I did plan to follow the recipe again and see how it turns out. I found it strange it failed you for the careful notes I had taken in the baking. In any case, to hear “great writing” from Mr. Greenhill – walking library that he is – is no small praise. Thanks for taking a moment.

  7. The smell is what got me. You remember the smell of your best friend’s home. I love that. I still remember the smell of best bud’s house–a mixture of PineSol and something I’ve never been able to describe. All you have to do is open a bottle of the stuff and I’m right back there, 10 years old:). Great story you’ve told.

    • Thanks, Kristine. From the sound of it (and from your story), you apparently have a strong sense of smell. =) It’s very interesting, actually. How senses are more than themselves. Gateways into memory, feelings, thoughts (which are neurology).

  8. You brought back a memory for myself when I was eight years old. Wooden clothes pins, soda caps– add a 2″ x 3 ft piece of wood and a chain of rubber bands– and we had my neighborhood little kids’ “gun.” Nice post.

  9. Beautifully captured, D. I miss your writing – muscular yet flowing, taut but feather-light. You invoke so much in so few words. Not everyone has a friendship like that, so it’s special when you have that one person who knows you down to the crumbs of your existence. Thank you for sharing this. Blessings, Paul.

    • Hi, Paul! Talk about missing a voice. I’ve wondered how you are. I hope Dad’s ok? What a delightful nugget of encouragement you leave me this morning, a wonderful way to start a busy day. I cherish every thoughtful word — you know all about people who come alongside and will stick by you on low ground while nudging your sights to higher. I appreciate the loving pop-in.

      Xx
      Diana

  10. There really is nothing quite like the experience of our best friend. My memories came back instantly reading of you lining up everyone in height order. What we wouldn’t do for our besties. Written with such a soulful purpose. Left with a clear picture of what friendship means to you, Diana. She was lucky to have you.

  11. “We are startled by time because we feel younger than we did when we knew everything at fourteen.”

    All my good friends make me feel younger; maybe because we laugh a lot.

    Beautifully written. I enjoyed reading it so much.

  12. Lovely! There are so many things I like about it, but I will name but one: the use of numbers. I love your accounting of these deep joys over the architecture of counting!

    • What an interesting thing you picked up, A. I have to say I love that you liked so many things about this. I wanted to offer something more than just a personal testimony of a friendship. I think we can all relate to looking up and realizing that, for all the years on the clock, why, we don’t feel so old at all.

      D.

  13. The ending was my favorite part: empowered by wisdom gleaned from experience while retaining a youthful heart that feels deeply! May we all be able to share that sentiment as we age!

  14. This is so moving….and in the kind of mood I’m in, I wept a little at the line, “If I erased you from those early pages, I’d end up with more emptiness than story,”….so lovely.

    • Aw, it’s a good thing you weren’t listening to Bach’s adagio cello at the same time. You can youtube it if you want a heartier cry. LOL. I appreciate the feedback, Sandra. Relationships are our lifeblood.

      Diana

  15. I don’t know if you’re gonna notice this comment but I just wanted to say that you just made my day a lot brighter. I just had to follow your blog.

      • I, so sorry.I don’t know what happened. You are on following list. Hmm, let me try again.

  16. What a wonderful picture of what it means to have that sense of friendship – the one that lasts no matter where you end up. Where would we be without those friends that we shared our younger selves with?

  17. I did have a childhood friendship that was less escapades but more sharing secrets and thoughts. They were best times. Sadly, we each broke the friendship when we were in our early 30’s.

    • You got it. Not to say you were right on in the kudos =) but that yes, it was broader experiences of time I was exploring through the lens of friendship. BANG. You rock. Thank you for the thoughtful read.

  18. ‘wow, I really enjoyed this post, Diana. It brought me back to a time when I met my best girlfriend in 4th grade where I had just started in a new school after moving across town. She intimidated the crap out of me and also did the lining up by size thing where I landed about midway. Little did I find out til later that I intimidated the crap out of her too.

    Neat to reflect on stuff like that, thank you for sharing.

  19. Hi Diana I wanted to stop in Say Hi and let you know, seeing through the eyes of another seems to give us the “grounding” to see ourselves, at times reflecting a lesson, or what ever our tapestry may give us. Released from judgments of self, its more of a flow , being one with the “outer ” self.
    Sometimes “I” may not like what I see, yet it is easier if I do…te he..Great To SEE you here.

    P.S. Daughter Aly has her first patent “computer language” at IBM and has been flying high…at age 23, very grounded girl, with angel wings . Much love Robyn

    • Thank you for connecting so thoughtfully again, R. And I am not surprised Aly is flying, what with a mother who has seen and supported her as she has. Grounded, with angel wings. Love it.

      D.

  20. I loved reading that so much that when I finished I had to do it all again. It gets more profound the more I read it. I’ve heard of writing letters to our teenage selves, but never to our childhood best friends, so this is new to me – thank you for sharing it, Diana.
    I’m Robert by the way. I live on the north side of England in a place called York. I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. 🙂

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s