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Box Boats Plus Plastic Food This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Everyone’s mind makes unhappy memories fade until only pleasant ones remain. I’m no different, but looking back at my friendship with Michael, I come up empty-handed when trying to find any bad memories.

The fall of 1993, my family moved and my mother, needing to find a friendly neighbor, introduced herself to the people on our block. She came home one day to find a pound cake sitting on our doorstep with a note that read, “Welcome to our neighborhood!” This is the style of overall goodness that runs in my friend’s family’s veins.

My first memory of Michael is him in a cumbersome diaper with long blond hair - how much difference a year can make! While I was already in my cowboy-boot-print overalls, he was still in diapers. Despite the age gap, we became best friends. He had a one-story, fairly small house where he shared a room with his brother. G.I. Joes were the toys of choice and his sister’s closet always yielded surprises: drums with holes, banged up remote-control cars, and endless dolls to serve as cannon fodder for our G.I. Joes. At my house we would watch “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and cook ramen noodles. In my room we made tent forts out of tablecloths tacked to walls and bed posts.

Jump forward a few years to the most memorable period of our friendship - The Boat Era. Girls, when playing pretend, often play house, while Michael and I played boat. The dilemmas would vary, but the basic plot was the same: We were 20-somethings without parents who lived on an extremely fast boat. Mysterious groups of brigands would chase us, which called for our speedy boat to scream across oceans to escape the persistent thugs. The characters we played never had much depth, and names like Spike or Buzzsaw were tacked to our stiff personas. I would always have a robotic hand to warrant wearing a batting glove. We usually played in two boats that somehow connected, so that he would sit in his armchair while I would use a box on the floor. For forgotten reasons, we would spasmodically scurry up to the ceiling of his closet using the fixed shoe racks for footholds.

Having sisters rubs off on a person like those temporary tattoos that claim to last a week but come off in your first shower. Michael’s sister had tubs of plastic food we would dump out: plastic eggs, bacon, rolls, chicken and globs of unintelligible color and size. In our imagined universe, we would wake up and cook breakfast.

Michael was by far one of the most influential people in my life. I have only one regret about our friendship: how it diminished when I entered school and he was still at home. He is an incredible guy, one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and he cooked a mighty fine omelet.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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