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My heart pounded as I leapt off the couch and ducked under a table, crashing into Loretta, who let out a yelp. "Shhh," I hissed, "The killer's coming!" We held our breaths as Michele, who we had blindfolded, stalked like a zombie out of the closet with her arms straight out, heading toward us. We shrieked as the table flipped over, and we screamed as Michele collapsed on top of us; then we giggled, feeling the pure joy of playing childish games. Exhausted, we arranged ourselves on the floor in a circle and started a round of Triple Truth, a game in which one answers questions asked by the others. During this simple game, we all discovered surprising facts about each other, and even about ourselves. Laying there, giggling and sharing secrets on a Friday night, a realization struck me: These are my true friends. Not the people in Massachusetts who I knew longer, yet lost touch with. I suddenly recalled a quote I had once heard. "Friendship isn't about whom you have known the longest... It's about who came, and never left your side." I frowned and thought, What was I doing, lying to myself? What was I doing, trying to convince myself I still had those friends who I'd lost over three years ago? An understanding flashed into my head like a light bulb as my friends’ voices chattered in the background. Disappointment fell over me like a stormy cloud, as I replayed the past five years of my life.
There wasn't a single cloud in the sky on August 10, 2007. Moving Day. I shielded my eyes from the sweltering sun as heated thoughts filled my mind. Why couldn't it be this warm in the winter? Then maybe we could stay in Massachusetts, my home. Stupid weather. Why do my parents hate the cold so much? As the time came to leave, I stood outside my house and soaked it all in: the familiar New England style house, the sprawling neighborhood, the houses around me in which my close friends resided. I guess the real reason I despised the idea of moving was the fear of losing my lifelong friends. You see, I am a clingy person. Letting go of anyone or anything in my life is a difficult task for me.
"You'll make new friends," my parents assured me. And I believed them; I was positive I would meet new people. But what about my buddies? My best buddies? The kids I'd known for as long as I could remember? I sighed and helped load our heavy luggage into the waiting airport car.
"Call me every day," a friend had insisted as she hugged me tightly. "Of course," I agreed, with determination in my eyes. "It'll be as if I never moved!"
The first few weeks weren't as horrible as I assumed they would be. In the beginning, I did call every day, as promised. When I arrived home from school, I would immediately drop everything on the floor and rush to the telephone. I would stretch out on my bed and dial the numbers which I knew by heart. My friends filled me in, giving me a detailed description of their day, while I listened intently, not wanting to be left out of anything.
The months passed and I started growing closer to the new people I met. Introductions turned into endless conversations, and pretty soon I was spending time at their houses, laughing and creating memories.
My calls to my friends back home became less frequent, and I told myself that the time difference made it difficult to communicate. But deep inside, something told me we were drifting apart. Desperate to bridge the gap, I spoke with my old friends even more, chasing after them like how an animal chases its prey. But something was changing, and I could sense it.
Just a few months after the move, I tried to recall the numbers I'd known by heart just a couple months ago. I gave up, and searched through my phone for the numbers instead. Talking on the phone with them made me uncomfortable now; I didn't know what to say to fill the awkward silences. The comfortable sense of friendship had faded, leaving a gaping hole behind, and it scared me that I was losing them. Being the stubborn person I was, I pretended that nothing had changed.
"Who are your best friends?" someone once asked me. Without a hesitation, I listed my buddies back home, though I didn't even remember the last time I had talked to them. Ironically, my new friends were much closer to me than my buddies in Massachusetts ever were. "What about your friends over here?" they questioned, "Aren't they your best friends too?"
"No, I've known my friends over there much longer," I explained.
These thoughts drifted through my head as I lay on the floor with my friends-- my real friends. The time had come for me to let go.
"Heeellllloooo? Raina!" Heather waved a hand in front of my face. "You were blanking out the last couple minutes! It's your turn for a truth."
"I'm fine," I replied as I sat up and looked around at the concerned faces. "I realized I was trying to hold onto something I didn't even have anymore."
"Ummm...what are you talking about?" Heather had a confused expression on her face.
"Nothing," I stated quietly, and then with more enthusiasm, "What's my truth?"
Sheri considered for a moment and then answered, "Okay, I'll give you an easy one: Who are your best friends?"
This isn't such an easy question for me, I thought. My mind flickered back to the quote. Then I smiled, and named the friends who lay around me on the floor.