It’s Been Way Too Long

This story’s far too long for a GMH posting, but it’s adorable and it’s worth sharing. So here you go.

In elementary school, if you’re a girl and you have a boy as a friend, he’s your boyfriend. Teachers LOVE this, they love teasing the kids, making jokes about them getting married. I had three or four “boyfriends” in elementary school, but during the summer of 1992 it was all about JK. He and I were both Sonic the Hedgehog fans and bonded over that. I loved how energetic and fun he was, and how relaxed I was around him. We all have that best friend who allows us to be ourselves.

He and I were king & queen of the nerds. All the other kids who wanted to pretend they were Sonic the Hedgehog characters followed us around. We had an army. He sat on the top of the playground equipment by himself though – I was always too scared to climb up, being petrified of heights as I was (and still am). But I’d stand next to the giant metal green cheese shaped monkey bars, looking up at him, and looking up to him. He exemplified what I wished I was, in retrospect – a confident dork. He was kind of a hero to me.

So the teachers at the daycare center teased us, noted that we were attached at the hip all the time. One day I kissed him on the cheek, and he never forgot it, apparently (even though for a long time, I did, despite him being my first kiss).

In summer of 1994, though, I moved – a month before I was supposed to start at the same middle school as JK. Our days as king & queen of the nerds were over just like that, and I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to him. Not knowing I was gone, JK searched the lockers at his school for my name, love letter complete with his contact information in hand, with no luck. He looked more casually the year after that, ultimately giving up. I was clearly gone, and there was nothing he could do about it.

In the meantime, starting in 1995 I was online frequently. I made new friends, and after a few years I started trying to reconnect with old ones. I managed to find a few people after about 2005, but their interests had diverged from mine. The ones I’ve found, as special as they were to me when we were children, I barely speak to. But it’s nice to know they’re there.

JK still eluded me. I kept searching for his name, if no one else’s. He became like a hidden treasure. I searched for him every few months for years on end. I remembered his full name, I remembered his face at age 9, and I knew where we lived as kids, and that was all I had to go on.

In March of last year, I finally found him on Facebook.

Afraid our interests were too different, just like everyone else I’d found, I didn’t talk to him too much beyond a series of “yay I found you!” messages. I learned that he was still as much of a geek as he ever was, though, and that was nice. But I didn’t want to be disillusioned. So I kept my distance.

A few weeks ago, after a series of comments exchanged on a Facebook thread, JK gave me his phone number. I was too busy to call for a couple of days following, but then one day, even though I was out at a crowded restaurant with my daughter for dinner, I felt the need to call him for some reason. So I did. We’ve spoken every day since then without fail, catching up, reliving old times. I’m a ridiculously nostalgic person and he’s reminded me about details of the town we grew up in, people we hung out with, things we did. After 17 years apart, it was like no time had passed. We’re still the same people now as we were at 8 and 9 years old. Just taller. 🙂

Interests and qualities we’ve developed independently over the years are strikingly similar as well, from the websites we go to and our overall college experiences to the flavor of Vitamin Water we drink and our love for bad jokes. JK has taken to keeping an imaginary “list” of things we eerily have in common despite growing up around completely separate sets of influences. It’s fairly extensive.

The last week I’ve spent talking to him has been one of the best weeks of my life, if not the best. Between the nostalgia, recollection, reliving my childhood, recalling things I found fun as a kid, finding my old friend again, knowing he’s okay, knowing he loved me that much, and finding that we love all the same things even now and have tons of things to talk about together… I couldn’t be happier.

JK celebrates his birthday tomorrow. This post is dedicated to him. Here’s to a friendship that’s remained constant since 1992 despite distance and lack of contact… and here’s to decades of friendship sure to come. Happy Birthday, “Sonic.” 🙂

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