From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV

Bacon and Eggs

True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it is lost.

Charles Caleb Colton

I was standing beneath the doors that led to my high school’s gymnasium, music blaring, the stands packed with family and friends. I was waiting anxiously to make my entrance and had mixed feelings. This was it. The moment I had long awaited.

“Are you nervous?” someone asked behind me.

I turned around and saw the brown corkscrew curls of my old friend from elementary school, Beth Ann.

“Yeah, kinda. It just feels so weird,” I said.

“Yeah, I know. It seems like yesterday we were playing line soccer and bacon-and-eggs at recess,” she said with a reminiscent smile.

Bacon-and-eggs, as we called it back then, was a game we played every day at recess. It involved two people on different swings locking their arms and legs together as tight as they could and other people pushing them from all directions to try to break them apart. No matter how rough the ride seemed, Beth Ann and I never let go. We were inseparable.

Someone’s hand reached out and nudged me along. It was my turn to walk. As I rounded the corner all I could see were thousands of people, and all I could hear was “Pomp and Circumstance.” I had heard the song a dozen times before, but this time it had meaning. It seemed to take over my whole body, and my heart seemed to beat along with the notes. Tears filled my eyes as I realized this was the last time I would ever walk with my friends. I marched underneath the flowered arches and turned down the aisle to my seat. When I sat down, I took a deep breath and took in everything around me—the people yelling and waving, my heart still beating with the song, all of my old elementary-school friends in their caps and gowns, the class banner. The banner read: “The end of a decade, a century, a millennium, the beginning of a dream.” At that moment I realized that it was finally time to live the dream I had been planning for years. This was it. This was the moment I was to grow up and become the person I wanted to be. On the other hand, it also meant leaving everything behind.

The ceremony was long and hot—very hot. My gown was drenched with sweat and tears, and it made me itch. I went hoarse from yelling for my friends when their names were called, and my mouth ached from laughing at the teachers who, after four years, still mispronounced our names. I grinned from ear to ear as I received my diploma and saw Mom and Dad looking down at me with eyes of pride. And, of course, I cried at every reference made toward this day as being our last. But I made it through to the end.

As I marched out of the gymnasium I looked to the people who had impacted my life through the years—to the people who made my life worth living, the people I would always carry with me. I looked to my parents, my family, my teachers and, finally, to my best friend from elementary school.

Through the years the group of us had grown apart, and we had all gone our separate ways. But Beth Ann was right. It seemed like yesterday we were playing in the schoolyard and dreaming of high school, which seemed, at the time, to be forever away.

I remembered the time Beth Ann and I were sitting outside on the stoop that led to our elementary school’s doors. We had just finished a game of hopscotch, and we were throwing rocks across the parking lot.

“I can’t wait till we’re in high school,” I said, wiping the sweat off my forehead.

The sun was hot and beating down on my toes. I was wearing new, hot pink jelly shoes that I had begged my mother for weeks to buy.

“I can’t either. And when we get our licenses we can drive to each other’s houses and go to the movies or swimming anytime we want,” Beth Ann rambled on.

“I know. I can’t wait. We’ll go everywhere together . . . we’ll always be together,” I promised.

“Best friends, forever!” Beth Ann said.

“Yeah . . . best friends, forever,” I nodded.

We sat on that stoop planning out our future together—the places we’d go, the things we’d do and the people we’d marry. We planned on getting married at the same time to best friends just like us. We planned on teaching our kids to play bacon-and-eggs and teaching them how to never let go.

As I walked out of the gymnasium, I thought about all the plans we had made in elementary school and how none of them had come true. I realized that there was still a place in my heart that wanted us to always be together, even after all the years apart.

I followed the long line into the cafeteria to meet my family and friends. I received thousands of hugs and took hundreds of pictures. I was pulled in a million directions, but I couldn’t shake my thoughts of Beth Ann. We had made so many plans and so may promises. But now it was time to let go—to say good-bye.

I searched for her through the crowd. I looked for ten minutes, and when I was about to give up, I turned the corner and there she was, surrounded by a bunch of people. I walked over to her and pulled her to the side.

“Beth . . .”

We called her “Beth” now because she felt that she had outgrown “Beth Ann.”

“ . . . I don’t know what to say. I guess I just felt like I had to come over and say good-bye.”

At that last word, “good-bye,” she pulled me into her arms and gave me a big hug. We held onto each other for what felt like hours, but was probably only a few moments. When we pulled away we both had tears in our eyes.

She whispered to me, “I just want to thank you for the memories. I love you. I’m gonna miss you. . . .” She was staring into my watery eyes and gripping my fingers so tightly they were turning purple. “I’ll never forget you.”

“I’ll never forget you. . . .” I repeated, as I slowly let my fingers slip away. I was finally able to let go. I turned and walked away.

I walked out of my high school’s doors that night by myself, with my thoughts dashing around in a hundred places. I realized as I walked out that I was beginning a new life—a life without my elementary-school best friends, a life of new friends and new connections, and hopefully a life of bacon-and-eggs with friends who can hold on as tightly as Beth Ann.

Beth Dieselberg

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