By LINDA CHEN
MARIA CARRILLO HIGH SCHOOL
True friendship is immeasurable. It develops, disintegrates, metamorphoses and lasts a lifetime.
However, along the ride of ascertaining genuine companions, there are obstacles. Distance is a factor that can jumble one’s discernment of real friends but cannot deny the existence of devoted friendships.
Moving to Santa Rosa from Los Angeles, I left behind my best friend, Sherry, and the life we had built together. We met as first-graders in a sandbox during recess and left together skipping back to class. We found that we both loved fairy tales, swinging backward and the close proximity of our houses.
Living on the same street, we played together every day. She would come over to my house, and we would dress up in old wedding gowns as princesses, pretending the world was ours, or I would swing by her house and we would drink Fanta grape soda together before starting some crazy adventure.
Sherry and I were always doing everything side-by-side and we became an inseparable pair.
I commit to memory the last summer before I left, when Sherry taught me how to blow bubbles underwater. We would gingerly dip our toes into the 4-foot-deep, placid-clean chlorinated water, slowly stepping down the grainy stairs to the lowest platform.
From breathing to kicking, she spent hours with me so I could reach the impossible end of her pool, and when I did, she not only taught me how to swim, but to also push myself to try new things I was scared of.
But everything changed after that summer. Time was closing in on us. I was moving to a city hundreds of miles away, a distance farther than any length we had walked.
We hugged, made each other swear to mail letters and then we departed. I felt miserably empty without my best friend.
Starting a new school full of unfamiliar individuals, I wondered who else would sit next to me or who I would whisper my secrets to besides Sherry. I was very lonesome the first few months away from home.
That year, I sent and received letters about our first crushes, the same bikes we bought coincidently and inside jokes, but the hundreds of miles these letters traveled unwaveringly never compensated for the time we could have been together.
I never fully understood how distance pulled us apart until I visited Sherry at a restaurant after many years. I had expected the same small Sherry with a child’s pitch, but my anticipations underestimated the reality.
Emerging at the door was a 5-foot beauty with a voice unlike a first-grader. I suddenly realized we were not the little kids we used to be. I felt like we were complete strangers just meeting for the first time and deep inside, a part of me lost balance.
I really thought I had lost Sherry, someone I had shared my adversities and greatest memories with; someone I had considered to be my best friend. The excitement we had communicated over our letters rendered useless, and shyness crept into our actions.
Between the curious glances that shifted in the reflecting light of our eyes and short fleeting phrases, every moment was awkward. It was like starting all over again, but we gradually picked up conversation about the activities we enjoyed, and laughter naturally burst out.
Finally, the truth hit me: Distances inevitably do affect relationships, but a childhood companionship so pure and innocent is never divided by distance. Sherry and I share this foundational friendship.
Even today, we keep contact despite the hundreds of miles. I still spill out my problems to her, and we laugh at each other although we do not live down the same street anymore.
While best friends, we have continued on with our lives. Yet in our hearts, we are conscious that the path in which our friendship has traveled is bigger than any distance of separation.