For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be around the people that are older than me. When I was younger, I loved hanging out with my parents’ friends. They’d ask if I wanted to go to a friend’s house, or have a babysitter, and I’d be like “NO!” I didn’t mind being the smallest in the room; I enjoyed it.
When I reached third grade, I met my best friend. However, she met me in the fourth grade. Now, this was not some time paradox. She is simply one school year (technically five months and 30 days) older than me. It was hardly noticeable at first. We both had the same teachers, eventually. We both learned the same things, eventually. I really started picking out the differences in seventh grade.
My friend was looking at high schools and finishing school early, and I was left behind. It was a weird time. We’d never gone to separate schools before. It definitely strained our relationship. She was learning new things and growing in her maturity and I was still stuck in middle school. And when I went off to high school, I didn’t follow the path she’d marked for me. I went to a different school than her, yet again. And that was hard too. It became a sort of competition of whose school was better; who made the right choice. In time we had to let go of that too, and realize that there are good things and bad things about both of our schools, but we were each exactly where we needed to be.
Now, she’s going off to college. She’s not going far, and we are definitely better equipped to handle the mental and physical distance that will occur.
But I still worry. It’s times like this that I resent our age gap. Because she’s about to enter a new chapter in her life, and I’m still a page behind.
I hope her circle of friends grows. I hope her ideas develop and expand. I hope she tries new things, steps outside her comfort zone. I hope she does amazing things.
But I also hope she doesn’t forget about the good times. The cupcake wars and the roasted apples. The quarter on the ground and the lost locker key. The place behind the playground and the email conversations. The lost pets (RIP Abby and Junior) and the new additions (Welcome Oliver and Cookie Dough). The poetry shared and the pictures taken. The music played and the dreams realized.
We’ve grown into different people than the little third and fourth graders we used to be. But as our opinions have molded and our thoughts and hobbies have changed, we have kept one thing the same–our friendship. And I hope she knows that I am forever thankful.