My Best Friend

My Best Friend

From Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul

My Best Friend

We had been best friends since fourth grade. Me and Patty. Patty and me. Just about everywhere we went, people knew we were best friends. She taught me how to play pool in her cool, dark basement, and I taught her how to play basketball on my asphalt driveway. But the best part about having a best friend was taking turns sleeping over on Friday nights, sharing secrets over popcorn and soda, year after year after year.

Then in eighth grade everything changed. Or, I believe I changed and Patty didn’t. Suddenly, boys became more than pals to me and my interest in make-up and clothes surprised even my mom. I couldn’t believe Patty started the first day of school wearing the same pigtails she had worn forever. I had the latest hair fashion. I felt so confused and guilty at the same time. What was happening? Other girls seemed more interesting than Patty, and I wanted their approval. I felt restless and bored every time I went to her house now.

I started avoiding her and making excuses. Finally, during the middle of the year, as we were sitting on my front lawn, the words burst out. I said, “Go home, Patty, and don’t come back.” I ran into the house crying and sobbing. Mom sat me down and I told her everything. I’ll never forget her words. She said, “Friends will come and go in and out of your life forever. You are changing and it’s okay for both of you to make new friends. What’s happening is hard but perfectly normal.” Hearing the word “normal” was just what I needed.

The next day, the word was out at school and classmates picked Patty’s side or mine. The rest of the year was tough—I missed having a best friend but I also started enjoying the new “me” that was emerging. Patty became captain of the girls’ basketball team while I got the lead in the eighth-grade spring play. We spoke to each other but only on the most superficial terms.

Time healed a lot of the awkwardness, and over the next few years we clearly went down separate paths. Still, when I saw her in the halls of high school, I felt a strange sadness and longing. I thought if I went back and “fixed” everything between us, we could somehow start all over as friends. But that was a fantasy. Our differences were too great, and I could only hope she understood.

I’ll always remember the years Patty and I were best friends, but Mom was right. Friendships can change, and we have to let them go when it’s time.

Tamera Collins

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