by Ruby Z., 17
When we were young, you were the king of Radish Land. We grew more fruit in that garden than flowers. I, of course, was the strawberry queen. Harrison (remember Harrison?) was our butler. We would send him out to steal the raspberries from Mr. G’s garden for our grapefruit ceremonies. He would probably get caught a third of the times we sent him. Mr. G would chase him out of the garden with his cane, and Harrison would be as white as an onion when he got back to my backyard, panting for breath. We’d gasp for air laughing, our faces blue from a mix of the lack of oxygen and the blueberries we ended up getting from your mother’s fridge.
Back then, nothing could separate us. Everyone expected us to fall in love and date or something, even our moms and dads. I heard them talking about it one time when we were over at your summer house in Montana. I didn’t know if I was supposed to say “ew, gross!” like a normal person, but I didn’t feel like lying to myself, so I just kept quiet.
If you hadn’t noticed yet, we still go to the same school. You probably hadn’t noticed. I’m Stage Crew Nerd while you’re Jock on the Football Team and Head of Morning Announcements. You’re doing layups while I’m in the chemistry lab. I taught you how to do layups. I would have been an outstanding basketball player, but in third grade you told me it embarrassed you when I beat you on the playground court so I stopped playing. I was so scared to do anything that could risk our friendship. I’ve picked up a basketball maybe only three times since then. I don’t know why. It’s not like you would notice now, anyway.
High school, the Status Quo, kind of tore us apart. You did talk to me in the beginning, in the halls, at lunch. We didn’t have any classes together and you found your own friends and I found that I liked the library better than the lunchroom. When we finally had trigonometry together last year, I don’t even think you said hi to me. You maybe half-waved and looked at me, and then we walked around to sit at opposite sides of the room.
I can’t blame everything on you though. There was that time in October when you rang my doorbell and I was so shocked to see you standing there on my porch, that I barely said a word to you. I just stood there with my mouth slightly agape, tears springing into my eyes. You probably got weirded out because you walked away with your hands in your pockets and your lips pressed into a thin awkward line. You came to say that I should try out for the cheerleading squad. You don’t know this, but I actually did show up for tryouts the following week—until I saw Connie with her pom-poms there too. I then ran out of the gymnasium and waited for my mom to pick me up.
You and I are obviously still neighbors (Harrison moved away though). Sometimes I see you and your football buddies sitting in your backyard when I’m doing my homework, and Connie is always sitting in your lap. You’re leaned up against the old pear tree, you know, the one with our initials carved in it?
I guess the reason I’m writing this is to hope you remember. And because I want to apologize for being weird that day and apologize for not trying out for the cheerleading squad. Sorry I didn’t sign up for peer leaders with you. I’m really happy for you though, you know, being scouted for colleges and all. I just wish maybe one day you would look up from the base of the pear tree and see me watching you, just so I can know that you understand.
Brooklyn, New York