Sorry that I've practically stalked you for the last year or so. For all I know you may have gotten that email I sent last October and chose to ignore it. But, it's worth it to me to take my chances; perhaps you never received it at all. That email I sent you just hours ago? I'm really hoping you get that one and that you have the same reaction to it that you had to the one I wrote years ago; I hope it chokes you up.
Do you remember the day that we met? I do. I remember looking up at you, perched on top of the monkey bars and feeling intensely competitive. Your hair was long and curly, almost to your shoulders, and I thought you were the strangest-looking boy I'd ever seen. I must've looked like the strangest girl ever, with my bowl cut. In fact, I think our first conversation went something like this:
MK: When I first saw you, I thought you were a boy.
AC: That's okay. When I first saw you, I thought you were a girl.
Not a great start to a friendship, if you ask me. Well, it ended up being a great friendship; one that was monumentally important to me.
We met in the after-school program. Our parents worked late. My parents were social workers and yours had much more interesting jobs; your mother was a geneticist and your father an architect. We were the oldest kids in the program and everyone looked up to us, especially our younger siblings. We weren't popular kids, but in the after-school program, we were the coolest.
One day, we sat in the cafeteria eating our 4:00 snacks (always the Goldfish crackers) and debated the existence of God with the other kids. You seemed brilliant and edgy and a little bit nerdy. I thought you were awesome.
You and I loved dinosaurs. Your mother bought you a copy of the Jurassic Park book and I bought one days later. At night, I would sit in bed under my blankets with a flashlight and that book, phone nearby. I would call you and we would talk about what Dr. Grant was doing or whether or not Dilophosaurus could really spit venom. We planned on making a movie out of the book, long before we ever heard of the actual movie. I wrote the book out word-for-word into scripts and photocopied them for our friends; the six or seven kids who were taking on the roles of thirty or so characters. When the movie came out, your parents took us to see it and we cried, actually cried with excitement, in the scene where the helicopter approaches the island. I still cry when I see it.
We had sleepovers up until we were thirteen and your parents stopped letting us sleep in the same bed. I would sleep on the couch in the rec room, right near your bedroom. Your house smelled like wood and musty carpet and old.
As we got older, we started talking about our love interests. We called them by their initials: DP, SH, AL, just in case someone overheard. You bought the same shoes as Allison and played that song, "Allison Road," over and over again. We joked that we would never have sex because we were so uncool, that we'd be holding up signs at age 80 that said "Please have sex with me." I don't remember if we decided to marry each other if nothing else worked out or if that was just in a movie I saw.
We had a strange relationship, MK. I sometimes think I had a crush on you, but don't remember feeling jealous, so maybe I just idolized you. I know for sure that I looked up to you and wanted to do everything that you did. And it annoyed you. I remember that day that your mother took us to see the Jurassic Park exhibit at the Boston Science Museum. You ordered the chicken nuggets for lunch and I ordered the same thing. You turned to your mom and said, "why do they always do the same things I do? I don't like it." She told you that you should be flattered.
And you should. You were a great friend and a great role model. You taught me that it was okay to be a bit weird, a bit smart, a bit different. You gave me self-confidence; something I'd been lacking and really needed. And even as an adult, you taught me that doing what I love is what matters.
When I wrote to you a few years ago, you wrote back "It's so good to hear from you. When I saw your letter, I cried because we were so close and it's such a shame we didn't keep in touch."
Let's keep in touch, MK. Friends like you make this life a big adventure.