One day when I was four, I was sitting on my front porch eating an
ice-cream cone eating left-over garlic bread- garlic bread was a much a treat to me as ice cream. I saw two young girls coming down the street. They were obviously sisters. One was about my age, the other was obviously older. They stopped in front of my house and I heard the older sister say, “Ask her play with you.” I could tell, even at my young age, the older sister was looking for someone on which to pawn the little sister off. The younger girl came up to me and asked me to play with her. I told her I would have to ask my mom. “Mom can I go play with- what’s your name?” “Jamie.” “Jamie?” We lived in a small town and it was likely my mom already knew who Jamie was because she immediately said yes.
I went over to Jamie’s house many times after that. We acted out a variety of make-believe, spent hours at the local parks, and did craft after craft. Many of my sunny day childhood memories are tied to Jamie and twenty years later I still remember her phone number.
Our friendship began to cool the summer before third grade. She did not hesitate to tell me about her sister’s dislike for me, but I thought nothing of it. I wasn’t friends with her sister, I was friends with her. We would try to spend time together but it would turn into awkward conversations and an inability to agree on an activity.
On the first day of third grade I figured out why Jamie and I were growing apart- it was because she wanted it that way. She gave me the cold shoulder the entire first day, and the second was no different. I called her on the third day and asked why she was being so mean. She replied “I don’t want to be friends with you anymore.” We hung up and I cried. I cried about it a lot in the following few weeks. My Mom and Dad asked me what was wrong and I couldn’t find a better way to phrase it than “Jamie broke up with me.” Of course I didn’t mean it in the romantic sense, but “Jamie doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.” didn’t describe my pain well enough. It wasn’t a conscious decision on her part. She would turn her body away from me when I talked to her, she rolled her eyes at me whenever she saw me, she wanted nothing to do with me and I would as far to say she hated me. Eventually my sadness turned into bitterness. I couldn’t stand her. I came to realize she stopped being my friend because she thought she could gain popularity if I wasn’t associated her. Thinking back, it saddens me to think any third-grader would be concerned about popularity, but clearly….
I had, and gained, other friends that year. We formed a club, had dozens of sleep-overs and grew very close. We called Jamie and her friends “the gang,” because we learned in school that gangs are evil- childish, I know, but we were children. A few times I tried to get Jamie to admit why she stopped being my friend but she never confessed. It took a long time for me to accept that Jamie and I would never be friends again. It took even longer to forgive her.
It was the hardest break-up of my life but actually, that’s one thing I can be thankful for!