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  • Writer's pictureCherish Michele

Growing Through Change

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

I’ve moved around a bit in my life, I would like to say. The first time I can actually remember, I was in second grade, then again in fifth grade, and then again for my seventh year of school. I was 12 years old for that final move, and the house we moved into would become the longest residence I’ve held somewhere, at a whopping six years and counting. That final move was also the hardest, as it would result in me losing my best friend. To tell this story, I’ll need to take it back to the beginning of fifth grade.

Alright, so there I am, a tall, awkward ten year old who loathed direct eye contact, on the first day at a brand new school in a brand new town. I squeezed my Mom’s hand as we approached the front doors, not willing to accept the fact that in just a few minutes, she’d have to leave me all alone in this place full of strangers. Growing up as the youngest of four, I became used to letting someone else handle things for me. I was extremely dependent. I missed her presence the second she was gone. I thought to myself, how in the world am I supposed to make friends? I had friends at my old school, but we had grown up in the same community together, so that made the transition from a regular five year old to a student that much easier. This situation was reversed. All these kids at this new school had grown up together, and now I was the odd one out. But little did I know as I walked through those doors—I wasn’t the only one dreading their first day.

There standing in front of an older lady was a girl who appeared to be my age. A girl who looked just as lost as I’m sure I did. The older lady waved me over to give me a quick rundown of what to expect on my first day, then introduced me to the girl. I’ll call her Friend A. Friend A and I stared at each other like two deer in headlights once we were introduced. It was one of the most awkward ten seconds of my life. After that, we were shown our homeroom, and what do you know, we ended up getting seated next to each other. The topic of fate is a conversation for another day, so I won’t get into that, but I will say that I’m a believer in “everything happens for a reason”.

A few periods later, it’s lunch time before I know it. After getting my food, I started looking for a place to sit; I was fully prepared to sit by my lonesome. But that was before I locked eyes with Friend A at a table with a few other kids I’d seen in passing throughout the day. Something came over me to sit next to her, so that’s what I did. She said hi, I said hi, and we ate our meals. The others conversed amongst themselves with seemingly no desire to include either of us in the conversation. A few times throughout lunch, something funny or crazy would get said, and we would make eye contact with each other, laughing to ourselves.

Immediately following lunch, we went outside for recess, then one thing just led to another. Friend A started talking, then I started talking, and everybody else on that playground ceased to matter, because I had found a friend. That’s how it all began. Two shy kids came out of their bubble for each other, and it catapulted into an amazing friendship. I did almost everything with Friend A. When I wasn’t at school, and when I wasn’t at home doing homework, odds are I was hanging out with Friend A, either at her house or in one of our many designated play areas. Over time, we met more people and became a group of friends called The Mane Six (Yes, that’s what we called ourselves. Yes, it’s a reference to My Little Pony. And yes, I went through that phase.) Anyway, we had this group, but at the end of the day, it was still always me and Friend A. Connecting with others has always been a weakness of mine. I've been working on getting better at communicating and putting myself out there, but it just doesn’t come naturally to me. Friend A, though… Friend A is one of the few people in this world to bring out my true self, not including family.

Boom. Fast forward to the end of sixth grade. I find out that my Mom is moving states for the one who would soon become my stepdad. She went back and forth for a few months, deciding whether to move or stay, and ultimately made the decision to move for various reasons. She was impressed with the school I would be attending, the house in the new state was owned, and it was an actual house fit for a family, rather than the townhouse we were in. By the end of summer, me, the only sister of mine who still lived with us, and my Mom were gone. For a few months, I talked to Friend A any time I could, and I visited her almost every weekend. But things slowly started shifting in our relationship over time. One random weekend I spent the night at her house. The next day, when my Mom came to pick me up, Friend A pulled me into a tight embrace before I departed. I have never been a hugger, so I wasn’t as enthusiastic as her when I wrapped my arms around her. Looking back at it, had I known that we would drift apart after this, and this would be the last time I would see her, I’d have squeezed harder. I’d have been more reluctant to let go. Fast forward, I’ll be starting college in the Fall of 2022. From the time I was a 12 year old to now, I've had small conversations with Friend A through social media, but they’re not the same from when we were kids.

It’s normal for people to grow apart, but a part of me can’t help but reminisce on the times I shared with the one person I’ve ever called my ‘Best Friend Forever’. I sometimes think about what could’ve been, had I never moved. Friend A and I would’ve gone to high school together, we’d have grown up together, and we’d have continued doing everything together. Or not. Maybe we still would’ve drifted apart. There is no way to know how my life would have ended up, but what I do know is that my time with Friend A, being as artistic as I remember her being, is what helped me bring out my own artistry, in the form of storytelling. Even when she wasn’t in my life anymore, she helped me come to terms with just how much I loved being a storyteller, and realize that this was something I wanted to do for a living. And she helped me realize that I will make many different connections throughout my life, some for a long time, and some just momentarily, but there is something to be learned from all of them.

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