“I'm moving far away. Very, very far away.” EmmaLee broke the news to me out of the blue one day while we were at her house. We were playing with water guns when the little third grader spilled the terrible news.
“What? Why? When?” My little heart dropped and the great day took a dive downward.
The little third grader hung her head, no answer. As third graders, we couldn't fully understand why things happened, but we both knew that we won't see each other very much again.
“Here,” she handed me a bracelet, “so we won't forget each other.” She placed the pink little bracelet in my hand as she started to cry. We gave each other a hug and quickly put on the bracelets while we promised never to forget each other. As third graders, we took an oath to always be friends, no matter how far away we were.
She left that year and we started to grow up. A couple years went by and we kept in touch through monthly calls and surprise visits. Alabama was her new home and Florida was still mine.
Our families would take road trips over the summer or spring and go visit them. Every visit was a surprise, but as we got older we would figure out the surprise visits. Surprises turned into expected visits. Throughout the years, we have lost touch and kept in touch. But every vacation together made our friendship stronger.
We have a family tradition that our families would stay together overnight at the beach. We would spend the entire time catching up with each other's lives and spilling everything they've missed out on. Then afterwards, every time, the goodbyes were the hardest. I don't know how many times we've said good bye after a vacation, but we have changed it to a “ See ya later”. We are now both old enough to understand things like that and have valued our friendship even more because of it.
We both have made our own new friendships and have changed since we have last seen each other but, in the end, we know we've always got a friend a few states away.
Alabama is now one of my favorite places because it has one of my favorite people there. Her friends have become my friends and mine have become hers.
There in Alabama, there aren't any strangers. We'd be walking down the street alone and anytime someone would pass by there would be an immediate pause to talk no matter who they were.
One time, we spent Fourth of July weekend there. We sat in an abandoned parking lot eating barbecue sandwiches and blowing up all sorts of fireworks. As it got later into the night, there seemed to be more traffic alongside the abandoned parking lot. So EmmaLee and I would sit on the sidewalk and talk to people who were open to talk as they waited in their car. Little did we know that some of these crazy people were drunk. They would stick their heads out the window and sing and dance for us. We'd laugh and sing along not knowing till afterwards that these people were not exactly in their right mind.
Although Alabama had nights like those, there were also other memories that were important. Mornings where we would walk under the canopies of trees and walk to the Popsicle store nearby. There would be afternoons walking to the neighborhood clubhouse and getting yelled at by crazy old ladies for just being teenage girls.
“There are no boys here, girls, so you can turn around and go home” said the old lady that worked at the front desk of the neighborhood clubhouse.
EmmaLee and I looked at each other and laughed. “No, we are here to use the gym to play volleyball.”
The old lady frowned and rolled her eyes. “Whatever you say.”
We walked into the gym crying of laughter as the lady yelled at us as we walked in. “I know what girls like you do! I’m not stupid!”
We ignored the lady and started to play, nobody was there. We watched the lady out of the corner of our eye as she glared at us in disgust. Before you know it, it got kind of weird having her watch everything we do so we moved to a different area out of her sight but suddenly we heard a scurry of footsteps and an old voice yelling, “I knew it! I knew you girls would try to escape my sight to find boys!”
We looked at her in confusion because once again there was nobody else in the gym. “Ma'am, there is nobody else here. It's just us. We aren't looking for anybody.” We stifled some laughs as she huffed under breath and left.
Ever since EmmaLee moved away, I’ve learned so much throughout this milestone in my life. I've learned about the value of friendship and how important it is. “Make the new, but keep the old,” my mom always tells me. Friendships should be carefully chosen and valued. I've made mistakes with friendships in my life by forgetting my old, loyal friends for new, momentary friends, but my friends are always there for me. EmmaLee has been such a blessing and still is. She gives me advice and pulls me back if she sees me making the wrong decisions in my life. She shared something very wise with me, which was “live in the moment”. I would constantly want to always plan our every minute together and would be stressed if something didn’t go as planned, but she would always look me in the eye and say, “Don't worry about it, let's just enjoy the moment.” She may not know this but this has stuck with me ever since.