May these memories break our fall.
The first time we touched was your hand suspended in mid-air, palm out, fingers spaced apart in neat little intervals more or less aligning with my own when you said, “High five!”
Electricity transferred upon impact, or mere magnetism, and you asked for my name. Neodymium, I wanted to tell you: a soft, silvery metal responsible for the strongest permanent magnets. But I was only nine years old and I couldn’t spell intimidated.
I knew something about permanency even then, about how you would always be the impetus that made me pour myself into what I love, which unfortunately was never and would never be a “real major,” like the high school asked of us. Maybe we both could have been scientists – maybe – except you never gave up on words, either, and I was so lucky to be the one to help you make them come alive. Your poetry and my prose were both kept as secretly as teenagers can possibly keep them, and even though you don’t write to me anymore, sharing those images like whispers across string-and-styrofoam telephone lines still feels right. There’s no compass to reveal two hours away becoming two years without a phone call; they taught us energy is never lost, never destroyed, ever conserved, but it would be so nice to see you creating again. The only you I see is the you in all the photos with big sunglasses and a bigger smile, and me laughing, pink chiffon bunched in one hand and the other high-fiving yours, and I’m mesmerized by how touch can transcend time and space, and how a sunny afternoon posing in front of a backyard swing can feel like a fourth-grade classroom with the desks moved aside for square dancing. Keats thought touch had a memory, but I think it has magic, the illusion of energy being created, the motion of particles, a current that runs through the past.
“Partners,” we said. You traded your pantomimed cowboy hat for a crown. We could see the city skyscrapers from the Marriott lobby and the stars through the roof of the limo, our own kingdom lights. Growing up was hard; growing apart is easy. There is something special in your name appearing on my Facebook newsfeed, still something honest and pure in knowing we entered and left each other’s lives like the well-timed stage actors we were, still something alive and electric in a fading friendship that won’t be erased. Taylor Swift got it right: I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you. Even after goodbye, we will be remembered.
Article originally published in the February 4th, 2013 issue of The Chapel Bell.