I collect memories. It’s a subconscious hobby of mine. I come home to find my walls cluttered with countless mementos from five days ago all the way to five years ago. There is this one picture that continually goes unnoticed. It is old, just like the story of the two friends told in the picture. The decorative frame collects dust.
It was a sunny day in elementary school. My best friend Shannon and I stood nest to each other, all smiles. Our arms were around one another. We stuck out peace signs and also gave them alternative meanings; bunny ears appeared behind each other’s head. She was wearing a tie-die shirt and my hair was puffy and wild. We thought we were so cool and wanted the entire world to see. We were happy. Because back then it didn’t matter what clothes we wore, how silly we looked, that our teeth weren’t perfect, that I was much taller than she, or that I was black and she was white; we were best friends. We were able to look past all our differences and form a beautiful relationship. We were young, ignorant of the world around. We just wanted to have fun.
I don’t know how we met. All I remember is crying uncontrollably when my parents told me that I would be switching schools. “It’s not fair!” I blubbered repetitively. My new school in Lexington was a huge, strange monster, the people its heartless kidnappers. I walked into my 2nd grade classroom nervous and unsure. Somehow I met Shannon. I ended up at her table and we spontaneously clicked. Our relationship grew quick with fervor. We also were assigned to be Family Friends in METCO’s attempt to further bring together suburban and city kids. I went over to her house after school the first Thursday of every month and we did anything and everything enjoyable. She showed me her Sailor Moon collection and I was in awe. Yet another thing in common!
Happiness was customary then. I had Shannon to spend my school days with; I wasn’t lonely. School was exciting and fun. That summer however, there was some sort of rift that split us apart. We couldn’t see each other because of the distance. She lived in Lexington and I lived in Boston. We sent each other a few letters in the mail (because talking over the phone was somehow absurd). She went to the beach and sent me some shells; though they were usually cracked or broken by the time they got to me, I felt that she still cared for me. But with the start of the 3rd grade came a major change. Over the summer, unlike me, she learned that she didn’t need to rely on one person to have fun. She made new best friends and I was forced to do the same.
As I look at the picture, I wonder what happened to all the love and joy in it. Quite possibly it was lost in my youth, in the younger years of trusted pinky promises. However, I still believe that, though the innocence is gone, love and all its different types of bonds are still present today. It is just hidden beneath the tough layers of the modern world.