You sneaky devil, you.
I am finally on to you.
You wore a disguise throughout my childhood. Dressed up as a friend…. joining me for tea parties in the woods, and summers in the sand, and nights under stars.
A bottomless cup from which I could drink at any time and would never go dry.
“Sit and enjoy yourself.” You whispered. “I’ll be right here, next to you. No need to worry.”
You stood by me through my teenage years….sprinkling a few things here and there to see if I would notice that our friendship had ‘conditions’…..
“Nothing that an ill-fitting bra and box of tampons can’t fix…..” I say with a wave of my hand. Still thinking it’s fun to race you and see just how fast you can go….. Not noticing when I stopped to catch my breath, you were still going.
My 20’s…. oh those were our glory days! We twirled and galloped and spread our wings together. We stayed up late and woke up early and worked hard and played harder…. you didn’t mind. You sweetened even the sourest of pills. When you took things from me, even the important things….
A young friend’s life.
You quickly said, “But look! Look at all of these beautiful gifts I have for you!” You wrapped up independence and good skin in a pretty package and tied it with a perky boob bow. Friends forever.
I fell in love with a man and of course, you were there for it all. Holding hands in the front seat while singing along to Neil Young…. driving along some backcountry road. Sleeping in and eating out…. dancing until they shove us out the door. When that man lifted my veil and promised forever….you didn’t interrupt.
It would be 30 years before you and I had our first fight. I wanted a baby and you wouldn’t give it to me. I wanted you to go faster and faster and you just sat there doing nothing. I was so mad at you. Every moment I wanted to be sped up until I saw those 2 pink lines.
It is Thanksgiving day and they hand me my babies for the first time. I snuggle them down into my hospital gown against my skin and breathe in their little heads. You were there too….. sitting in the corner waiting for me to notice.
I forgot about you for a while.
And then I needed you again.
This time with a different plea.
“You don’t have to go so fast now,” I say.
You have turned my Mom’s hair grey and my skin has crinkles where it used to be smooth. My babies don’t have dimples in their knuckles any more and they can strap themselves into their car seats.
But you don’t slow down. You move faster
“Are you listening to me?” I shout, trying to keep up. “I said, slow down!!! I thought you were my friend!”
But you keep going, faster and faster, barely looking back.
You don’t sugar coat things anymore.
You are tired of me asking things from you. To speed up in waiting rooms, to dawdle on sunny days. To give me more of you in moments of joy and less of you when it hurts. To ignore you for years and then come to you pleading on my knees.
I’m up here in my studio tapping away on my laptop, offering you an apology—telling you I understand.
You are going to keep moving and I can’t keep up. We were never friends. You just wanted me to notice you.
And I do now. I notice you every day. I can’t forget you now, even if I wanted to.
A little voice calls from downstairs… someone needs a snack. A book read to them. It’s raining and they are still in their pj’s.
I slice up the apples and snuggle down into a chair, a little body curled up in my lap. He puts his hand in mine and we rock back and forth…..
I whisper out to you…..
“I know we can’t be friends, but….would it be too much to ask……please, pretty please …….
……..could you just stay with me?”
I smell his hair and close my eyes and keep on rocking back and forth.
I hear you whisper back….