You directed the shot and we faced opposite ways, our arms linked. The link was the kind that didn’t force compromise of one over the other; it just sort of fit. Trying not to laugh, we looked up.
In the come down from my eighteenth birthday, debuted and a little drunk, I opened presents that I now don’t remember. Save one.
It was that photo, enlarged, pasted onto paper you’d marbled, set in a frame you’d decorated with dried flowers.
Underneath the photo, you’d written something like, “Although we’re facing different directions, we will always be connected”. It was nicer than that, but that’s the gist.
Sometimes, especially on our birthdays I feel so separate from you. Like I’m not part of your life, but just a tangent to it. Or worse: that we’re just a nice memory of what was once a truly great friendship.
Ours is like those love affairs people have in their early 20s which end simply because they are in their early 20s: everyone says, if only they’d met later in life.
We had adventures that we were, at once, both too old and too young to be having. Bicycle rides three years too late, car trips ten years too early. And like most adolescents we cared too much and not enough of what others thought.
Now, when things get too Grown Up, I remember: sneaking bites of a shared apple in Mr Kirk’s Australian History and Geography (because apples are the subtlest sounding of foods); standing beside you as you cried when they cut down our tree (I loved you then); Coco Pops, the cookie cake, Snickers, frozen pizza, hot chips (how were we that skinny?).
On our car trips (me driving the family Tarago, you navigating from a ten-year-old road atlas, a tired cassette playing Rent in the background) I dreamed our futures.
It would be like we were the starring attraction of a film we used to watch. Our men would be subplots.
The scene opens with us in a car (most likely a Tarago). The Victorian countryside flashes by. There’s a montage of us moving into a gorgeous Australian farmhouse hugged by a wide verandah.
And oh, the animals we have. Because we’re vets. As the years pass, the occupations change. We’re painters, then I become I writer, you have a store in town and sell your hand-made everythings to big city stores on consignment. We are both consulted regularly to renovate and redecorate nearby homes.
The meeting of our future husbands end in the splitting of the land, shared meals and shared children.
But I don’t want an imagined or remembered friendship. What I’m trying to say, is that while we can’t change our routines or locations, we can try a little harder to maintain our connection.
Because no matter how long since we have spoken you are and always will be, my best friend.
Cherylle is somewhere between: 33°52′38″S, 151°06′18″E and 51°30′26″, N 0°7′39″W. Gaya is here: 37°46′45.48″N, 122°25′9.12″W.
Author: Gaya Avery