it’s not a bad thing, is it? That we wouldn’t have become friends had we met 15 years ago? As the oldest child in my family I can’t imagine I would have dealt well with someone equally as bossy and attention-seeking*.
Let’s imagine we are in second grade together. We have our teacher who always elects someone to read from the assigned book in front of the class. Who raises their hands? You. And me.
Two world-class champions in the Public Speaking division, battling it out to see who will come out on top! If she picks you, Enemy, I lose. And I have to deal with the fact that my impressive verbal skills will not be noticed by the other 23 same-aged people in the room. If I win, Enemy, I will send you a look so deliberately bratty that one would only assume we were foes long before entering Ms. Smith’s first period.
Class is done, dismissed. I ignore you either way. I like everybody, everybody likes me, but I can’t deal with another oldest child. I imagine you walk away with the same thoughts, because we both like the feeling of adoration from our peers. But, since we refuse to accept the fact that “humble” is indeeed a character trait to possess, we walk with our heads held high.
And now it’s fifth grade. We’ve grown up, we’re now on our way to one day sitting at the big kid table at Thanksgiving dinners. We’re not much taller, but we now know who Hanson are and that has made all the difference.
I shop at Limited Too right now. Your mother buys you things from American Eagle. The nerve! But I look older than you, Enemy, and Alec from sixth grade has already asked me out twice (he’ll break up with his current girlfriend first he says).I think you dated him for a week, right? But you guys only dated in class, he told me he’d take me out to ice cream.
We’re on the same basketball team. I shoot one-hook shots, people cheer. You made a random three-pointer that goes down in history for seventh grade girls everywhere. Why are we still not friends? We’re older now, we just got done with our third school dance. We’re veterans of the school, practically in Junior High.
Ninth grade. We’re paired up in Spanish class. We don’t pay enough attention because we’re both too busy doodling, so our assignment is lost on us. Is this the first time we’re really talking? I learn you have a brother the same age as mine, and you’re just as obssessed with Chad Michael Murray as I am.
…Did we just find something in common? Was there a friendship spark there? I decide you’re no longer my Enemy. You’re now an Aquaintance.
Senior year. We’re both so fixated on doing something incredible with our lives that we decide to bond together. I think I’m funny, mostly because I don’t give anyone the option to say I’m not. You told me you do the same, and that’s that. We both graduate and move out in to the bright big world separately. Acquaintance, I wish you well, but we’ll probably never see each other again.
Over the next few years we learn what “humble” is and embrace it. All the sudden, I remember that girl who was my Enemy in second grade and my Aquaintance in ninth grade and it would be so comforting to have you around.
This time we’re not six or twelve or eighteen. We’re both twenty-one years old and we’ve lived a whole lifetime in a short span of time. Odd-end jobs and relationships with stupid idiots and joining the cliche of Ramen Noodle Dinners (and Breakfasts).
We both live in New York City, so we reunite for lunch one day. Acquaintance, you look great! Are we both adults now?! How did this happen?
And now we’re 24, and I call you Friend. Best Friend, even. This is all hypothetical, of course had we met long ago. Would it have turned out that way? Maybe.
It’d probably be more accurate to say that we would’ve killed each other had a spelling bee happened.
Thank God we know each other now and not then.
*Of course, I prefer to think of it as “confident” and “lively” and “helping other peers understand what needs to be done when one plays ‘House’ with me”. My parents like to use the phrase “we are so happy you are no longer thirteen and the Devil”.