I don’t often find the words for you. But when I find them, I always want to keep them.
“We will map it out in the sand,” the Girl with the Curls said to her Most Precious Friend.
“That way we will never forget it, that we are coming back to one another.”
The Girl with the Curls All Up in Her Hair was a bit older in years. She’d seen more stretch of the earth. She’d touched more tops of fingertips. She knew the good that could somehow live in a word as strange as “goodbye.”
She patted the ground for her Most Gracious Friend to come and sit down beside her. And then she began to clear away the rocks to make for a space, a map that would mean Together during a time of Apart.
“This is where I will be,” said the Girl with the Curls, tracing a circle out in the sand. “I will always be here and you can always find me here.”
She set on clearing a space several feet away, “And here is where….”
“There,” said the Girl with the Curls’ Most Lovely Friend, pointing back at the newly traced circle. “There is where I want to always be.”
“I know it would be eas…”
There.” Her finger grew relentless with its pointing. “There or here. Whichever one keeps me with you.”
The Girl with the Curls had no answers. No answers for why, one day, she wouldn’t smell the lavender in the hair of her Best Friend or how she’d have to call upon her memory to play back the sound of a laughter she used to marry with her own percussion of giggles.
And so she said nothing. Not Much. And she let the Hunger for Words & Goodbyeless Goodbyes fill the air, thick like the humidity of August that calls curls to go untamed and motherless.
The two girls sat in the sand and stared at the circle for a very long while. They sat still & quiet until the stars had no choice but to join them, resolving to shine their brightest on this Night for Girls who were Never Good with Letting Go.
“It will come one day. One day we won’t be sitting here beside one another. It’s just the way it has to be,” the Girls with the Curls finally spoke, laying her head down to see the whole sky. Her curls splayed and spiraled across the parts of the map that hadn’t been drawn yet.
“But why?” asked her Most Sacred Friend.
The Girl with the Curls just nodded her head in Unknowing. And her Most Real Friend stared and let the whistles of silence out from her lips.
For they both had learned the hearts of one another—all the curves and spots of wear—as if they old watercolors perched up on the mantel of a hallway from childhood. They’d learned each other in an easy way, in moments as slow and wonderful as the whispered names of French sugared sweets. Savarin & Souffle. Tartin & Brulee. The two girls marveled at how it was never a thing that took effort or angst. They had simply found one another at a time when all they craved were open books and a Someone to sit beside when the world rocked crazy. A Someone to sit beside and find your whole self understood in a world that rarely leaves room for Understanding to take off her shoes. That was the best thing they could have. They knew it in conversation & secrets & nights of tea with three lumps of sugar. It was the best thing they could have.
“I’ve never really known but it’s a thing called Growing Up,” said the Girl with the Curls to her Most Radiant Friend. “I think it’s probably beautiful but awkward and silly at times, with just pinches of pain to remind you of Aliveness.”
Because that is how most things are: beautiful but awkward and silly at times, with just pinches of pain to remind us of Aliveness.
“But we can’t do it together? I want to be Growing Up with you. Not without you… I don’t want a reason to draw maps in the sand.”
The Girl with the Curls heard the stinging in the voice of her Most True Friend. She didn’t have reasons. She didn’t have answers. And she, also, never wished for Growing Up without her Best Friend beside her, Growing Up too.
“You know,” she finally spoke. “We could be Artists & Weepers. Dreamers & Dancers. We could own the stars if we wanted to. We could climb mountains and let the salt waters of the ocean pucker up to our ankles. We could be Explorers. & Finders. & Lovers. But I know we cannot be Keepers. A Carrier, maybe, but never a Keeper.”
“But why? What is the difference?”
“A Keeper would mean that we stayed here. And we never moved. And we held each other’s hands too tightly. And we never saw the world.
And you never became You and I never found Me in the spaces of this place where we were supposed to Be.”
For the Girl with the Curls had no answers. No connect the dot reasons. But she knew she could never be a Keeper, no matter how badly the urge tickled at her. To keep her Most Gifted Friend all to herself would only lead to a lifetime of picking Regret up by the armpits and spinning her round & round.
The world needed a Best Friend like hers. Strangers needed her. The sick needed her. The lonely needed her. And how does one become a Finder if they always stay a Keeper?
“Carry,” said the Girl with the Curls, to fill the spaces in the air left for Sadness & Sorrow & I’ll Miss You & Take Care. “I can be a Carrier. I promise I will be. I’ll carry you wherever I go.”
“Really?” said her Most Sacred Friend.
“I’ve already started,” the Girl with the Curls bit back more words.
She’d already started: The Letting Go. The Packing. The Looking Backward for a moment or two. The Finding but not the Keeping. And the Carrying. The Always Carrying the Heart of her Best Friend.”