Life is full of unfinished business. We don’t always get to know why someone cut us off. Maybe it had nothing at all to do with us. Maybe their lives got complicated. Or busy. Maybe they outgrew us. Maybe they died. Or maybe they truly wished to have nothing more to do with us. Sometimes, we just don’t get to know the answer… sometimes, we just have to live with the void…
I love the odd ducks of this world: the weird, the wonderful, the dreamers, the old souls.
I myself am an odd duck disguised in an ordinary person’s clothing. Over the years, I have built a believable façade of the most commonplace ordinary: I blend in. I stay quiet. Until I started blogging, I never voiced my opinions in public forums. I am very, very cautious about who I let in; who gets to see my oddness; my spirituality, the old soul I cloak carefully in normalcy.
Being an odd duck when you are an adult can be quite wonderful when you have embraced your ‘odd-duckness’, but it can be awfully lonely when you’re just a child. You haven’t learned to hide that part of yourself yet; you haven’t yet interpreted the sideways glances; the raised eyebrows. I am always surprised at how many of my ‘ordinary’ friends turn out to be the most beautiful of odd ducks, so I must assume that like me, they have learned to camouflage that part of themselves until they are well and sure that the person who gets to see them as they really and truly are, has earned the right.
Before grade 6, I had a few friends I called ‘best’ friends but the friendships didn’t last all that long. I am not sure if my oddness – the very thing that drew them to me, I am sure – eventually began to embarrass them, but none of them ever referred to me as their best friend before going on their way and leaving me behind. Those were the years when I was still known to burst out in silly song; to dance joyfully along the sidewalk; to talk to invisible fairies and to watch – out of the corner of my eyes – for my toys to move because I just knew they were real, if I could only catch them in the act. I hadn’t yet learned to tone my oddness down.
I met my first best friend in Grade 6. I loved her immediately and told her as much. She did not think I was weird. I thought that such a friendship should be properly consecrated, and told her that, too. And then I formally asked her to ‘be my best friend’. She formally accepted. I proposed a proper ritual: if we were to do this, we should make a promise. In blood. Again, she gravely accepted.
We became blood sisters on the school playground one sunny day in September of that year. I don’t recall what we used to prick our fingers with, but it was probably a questionably-clean safety pin. As she had sisters who would not have been that long out of diapers; I expect that she was the one to bring the holy implement to the official ceremony. The ritual itself was properly solemn, extremely official, appropriately ceremonial and terribly unsanitary. Carefully joining the tips of our bloody fingers, we simply promised to be ‘best friends forever’. At some point later that year, we even agreed that ‘if there was something after death’, the one who went first would come back – not in a scary way, of course – to let the other know.
I had the terrible luck of living in an air force-base town and over the years, a number of dear friends came and went as their fathers were transferred off to some other base. My blood sister was no exception. By the time she actually left, I had – thank God – made a number of other amazing friends (a few whom I still count as ‘bests’, all these years later) and they lovingly cushioned the blow.
But I never forgot my blood sister.
Many years later, I don’t recall how; I managed to find her. She lived clear across the country but as I was going to be visiting someone there, she and I managed to meet for one afternoon. Much water had flowed under the bridge by that time; she was a Mom and we were both building our careers. That day, I told her the worst of my secrets: the one I have carried with me every day for nearly 40 years now. The one I just cannot forgive myself for, no matter how I reason with myself about it. Our afternoon meet-up was decades ago, now, and I think that I was telling her because I needed someone I loved to hear me and to tell me everything was okay. That I was forgiven. That I was still a good person. That she still loved me, no matter what.
I do not recall what she said. I know that she listened quietly and – when the afternoon was over – told me she would be coming across the country in a few months; that she would look me up.
I never heard from her again.
Patti Moore Wilson/ © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com