When We Were Nine

February 17, 2013
We were nine and we were best friends. Ready to conquer the world, so long as the other stood by our side. Even the most boring situations could be made into an adventure. Our long philosophical conversations, debating all subjects our nine-year-old brains could come up with. The road trips we took were treasured dearly; adventures of the same two friends in a whole new world of opportunities. We were nine, and we were free.

Our friendship lasted past nine years old, but only upon the distant memories of that year. Still best friends, we battled through middle school, adding many other people to our lives. We had experiences with them, separate adventures and laughs. We still had our talks with each other, but the things our nine year old brains had come up with were infinitely better than the things we came up with at eleven.

And so it went for a couple of years, hanging on by a memory so distant in our minds. We created a box of things to remind us, a feeble attempt at strengthening the rope by which the memory hung. We filled it with pictures and letters from an easier time. A time when our minds weren’t clouded by five dense years of thoughts, both new and old. A time when all we needed was our freedom, and each other.

But the rope is unraveling, as ropes tend to do, and we are left hanging on the end. And she is blind to this. She doesn’t see my grip slipping, she doesn’t hear my shouts. Maybe I’ve stopped shouting, I don’t know. Maybe the thoughts are so dense in my brain, that I can no longer smell the sulfur of the hot spring we visited, or feel the soft fabric of the scarves we dressed up in. She can still smell it, I’m sure she can. The sense of the fabric still lingers upon her fingertips, I know. I know, because she shows me. I can tell when she tries to understand my attraction to boys, but just can’t. I watch the creases in her forehead and how she tilts her chin to the side. But most of all I read it in her eyes, the confusion surfacing there. She wonders why I’m not excited when she wants to take a long walk on solano, she wonders why I would rather go into the city and explore a more mature crowd.

For a long time now I’ve wondered why I’ve changed so much. Now I see that isn’t the case. It’s not that I’ve changed, it’s that she hasn’t. She’s still living in the past, and no matter how much she denies it, she is still nine years old.

And that’s the thing, see, I’m fourteen. When bad things come I face them head-on, like a young adult might do. She is able to disassociate herself from a problem, like a nine year old disassociates herself from the world. If I am affected by something in a negative way, I tend to think in a logical fashion to decide how I can appropriately react. But she shuts down and pouts, just like we used to when we were nine, and something didn’t go our way. Now I pray she understands. I pray she will wake up one morning and fourteen will catch up to her, too. I hope something occurs in her life that might require her to open up. I hope she can realize that life is not the way it was when we were nine.

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