From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

My Friend Andrea

Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.

Golda Meir

I felt tears well up in my eyes as I heard my best friend’s name called and watched her walk across the stage to receive her high-school diploma. She shook hands with the school-board president, had her tassel turned by the superintendent, and finally received her diploma from our principal. She stopped briefly to face the audience while they took pictures and applauded her. She was an honor student and first in her class. I felt a sense of pride and smiled to myself as flashback after flashback of our childhood paraded through my mind.

I remembered the winter that we decided to become bobsledders. We packed snow on the front steps of my house and let it set up overnight so we could sled down the icy strip on orange saucers at breathtaking speeds to the street that separated our houses. I relived the excitement of singing into our baking spoons about “rocking the town inside out” while sliding across the kitchen floor in our socked feet. One summer we both had Nickelodeon Moon Shoes. We would bounce all over Andrea’s front yard and make music videos—without a video camera.

I had to suppress a laugh as I thought of the time that we lit a bonfire in our clubhouse that was located under my front steps. It was a normal summer day, and I was just hanging out in our clubhouse. As I looked around, I decided that we had too much garbage lying around and needed to dispose of it. Andrea came over in a flash and was more than willing to join the fun. We filled an ice-cream pail with water in case something should happen, then out came the matches. We put the garbage in a pile and lit it up. It got a little out of hand and started climbing the wall. Fortunately, we had the bucket of water and put it out before anything of importance caught on fire. Yep, we got in trouble for that little episode. The front entryway of my house smelled like a chimney, and when my parents caught a whiff they herded us in for a lecture.

We took a stab at writing songs and hosting our own talk shows. We dealt with important issues like what kind of shoes we were wearing and what our moms were making for supper on that particular night. We also addressed the fact that Mr. Freeze Popsicles were part of a balanced diet and should be included in one of the major food groups. Our friendship was full of slumber parties and now somewhat embarrassing escapades.

As she sat back down in her seat, one last memory came to mind. This one, however, was not quite a happy one. Even though Andrea is only two weeks older than me, she is a grade ahead. I was born two days after the cut-off to be part of her class. When Andrea started her freshman year in high school, we drifted apart. She made new friends, and we both got involved in our own activities and interests. Even though it bothered me a great deal, I kept it to myself. She didn’t seem heartbroken, so I acted like I wasn’t either. For two-and-a-half long years we went about our lives separately. Our friendship dwindled to a nod in the hallway at school or maybe a “hello” on rare occasions. I wanted to talk to her so badly. I would go to the phone to call her, but would hang up before the call went through. I was afraid that she wouldn’t want to talk to me. The truth was, she wanted to call me, too, but would hang up for the exact same reason. We found out later that even though the other hadn’t known it, we were both hurting and longing for the friendship we used to have.

I don’t even know how it happened. I guess we finally realized that we had had too good of a friendship to ignore each other any longer. The months ahead held a lot of catching up. We found out that we were experiencing many of the same things and that we understood each other like no one else. We began what we later called cocoa talks. Even when the weather was warm, we would spend the evening sitting on Andrea’ s front steps, drinking hot cocoa with marshmallows and talking about everything that was going on in our lives. We laughed, and we cried. Sometimes we laughed so hard it made us cry. No matter what, we always left feeling better, feeling understood. It’s been a bumpy road, but I wouldn’t change any of it. In the nine years that she has lived across the street from me, we have formed an unbreakable bond of friendship that we both know is hard to come by. We are always asking each other how we got to be so lucky as to have our best friend living right across the street.

This next year holds uncertainty for both of us. Andrea will be starting college in the fall, and I will be left to survive my senior year alone. But one thing remains certain: Andrea and I have a friendship that will never graduate.

Laura Loken

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