I have a friend who lives in another country. I'll call her Noni. 5 years ago she contacted me on facebook. The last time we had seen eachother before that was 18 years!
She lived one street away from my house growing up. She moved to Winnipeg from Toronto with her mom, dad and younger sister. She saw me standing at the bus stop one day and said "I must be friends with her". A week later she registered for the same swim club and we became inseparable. We rode the bus to school, hung out at recess, swam behind eachother at swim practice and mixed in sleepovers, shopping and of course boys. We were 12.
At 14 she told me she had to move back to Toronto. Her dad was being transferred. The day she pulled away from my house, the van packed to the roof and her hanging out the window crying was tough on this 14 year old. I had invested ALOT of time into her and she was leaving me. She was going to be someone else's best friend and I was left here, all alone.
My parents felt bad and sent me to Toronto that summer for swim camp. Noni and I picked up where we had left off. It had only been 6 months. I went back the next summer, and things were great, but we were changing. Time apart at 15 years old was not fostering best friend qualities.
She called me from a far away country the day of my wedding in 2000. It had been 11 years since we had spoken. She was crying, happy for me, sad for not being able to attend the wedding....she dropped a bomb
She had a son. It was a one night stand and she wanted it to work with the father but he chose to return to his girlfriend. She was broke, miserable and now a single mom. We ended the conversation with a vow to keep in touch and meet up one day soon, in Canada.
That day came 5 years later. I was living in Calgary and she was going to be in Toronto and given Canada is not ALL that big, she would book a flight from TO to Calgary and visit me, Cole (1 year old) and Tim. I remember standing at the airport waiting for her, nervous and excited, happy and scared..you name it. She came out of the doors, we hugged, cried and laughed. I thought to myself...see? after all this time you can still be close, even if you are far apart.
Or so I thought.
One day into her 4 day visit and I was ready to boot her little bottom back across the ocean.
Harsh, yes, yes it is.
The entire trip was her therapy session, and pampering extravaganza. I played the role of both therapist and sugar mamma. The father of her son married his girlfriend and wants custody of their son. She is never allowed to move. She is stuck "there". She dropped out of school and can't hold down a job (insert bite of expensive piece of steak she ordered at our dinner - courtesy of Tim, oh and don't forget the 4 drinks in there)
Why don't we do massages? Sure, why not...and while we're at it, this gal on maternity leave (unemployment wages) will take care of that $200 tab. Here is where we insert the story of how she slept with a groomsmen at the wedding in Toronto and now he refuses to call her back...on the cell phone her dad is paying for..which is almost dead...so she can't talk to her son....
Let's go shopping! Suuuuuuurrrre!!!!! Let's spend money we do not have!! In fact, after I buy lunch, she will go and buy a $60 belt from Banana Republic and then proceed to LEAVE the belt at another store shortly thereafter. The solution being that I return to the mall (with 1 year old in tow) and search for the belt...and then mail it to her far across the ocean.
I got home that day with a pounding headache and a heavy heart. It was not supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be a reunion I would cherish forever. Our lives had taken very different paths, but deep down I thought those 12 year old best friends were in us somehow.
It's been 5 years since her visit. 5 years since we have spoken. She must have felt the same way as I did given we have not made the effort to keep in touch. I often wonder how she is, what she's doing, if she's in a better place now. If she's standing on her own two feet, confident and proud.
I hope so.
Maybe one day I'll decide to find out...maybe in another 18 years.