Chance meeting mends wounded friendship

Colleen Stein

Colleen Stein

I was working with the Student Foundation touring the preschool and kindergarten classroom over in Pugsley Hall two weeks ago. We were given free rein over the place for 15 minutes and so I crept into an observation booth that overlooks a preschool classroom.

I sat down behind the two-way mirror and slipped a pair of headphones over my ears. There were three groups of families laughing and playing with their children, the parents looked like giants sitting at the tiny table in their tiny chairs.

I listened and watched the people for a few minutes when I heard a familiar laugh from someone half-hidden behind a cart of supplies. I strained and squinted until I found myself staring at my long-lost friend, Christine. She had been my proverbial clone growing up and until our falling-out in high school five years ago, we had been best friends since the age of four.

After a big fight in our junior year, I lost touch with Christine altogether. She graduated early the following year and when she left for college, her mom pulled up stakes and left town, too. The phone number I have come to memorize all those years was useless, I had foolishly lost her email address, and whenever I asked around, no one seemed to know where she had gone.

The collapse of our friendship haunted me during those years Christine had gone missing. I constantly dreamt of seeing her again and apologizing. I wanted so badly to pick up the pieces and weld together something that resembled our old friendship. But once everything was made right again, I always woke up and all of my efforts would be undone.

Seeing Christine again hit me with a wave of excitement and relief. I had so many questions for her and there were dozens of experiences that I wanted to tell her about. This was my chance to stop the bad dreams and face reality. Regardless of the outcome of our encounter, I would have the closure of knowing if she wanted to be friends again or if she still hated me as a result of our high school quarrel.

I approached her and waited. She turned, scanned my face and stopped. “Hi!” I squeaked. Christine’s face broke into a smile and she greeted me back. The giddiness in her voice as she asked me what I was doing there set all my fears of her rejection of me to rest. She wrote down her phone number and gave it to before she went back to work and told me to call her anytime.

My entire life, I have made and lost friends due to a variety of circumstances. As I grow older, I am able to deal with most of these losses and move on. Yet my relationship with Christine was not a scar on my past but a wound left oozing and unhealed. Despite all of her shortcomings, she remained an important person in my existence and I felt it imperative to breathe life into our friendship once more.

As I studied the piece of paper where she had written her number, I realized her sloppy handwriting had not changed during our years apart. Slowly a tide of flashbacks washed over me and waves of memories alive with color and sounds from our childhood came flooding back. Only this time it was not a dream.

Colleen Stein is a senior journalism and English major.

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