I met my first really "best" friend when I was six. I was starting first grade, and the first words out of her mouth that morning were, "I'm seven today." Seven! Wow! To me, this was the coolest thing ever, especially since my birthday wouldn't be for another four months and it seemed like an eternity. She and I were constantly together after that for the first three years I was in school. Having gone to a residential school for those three years, I lived in a dorm. On and off, she was my roommate, and it was rare that you'd see one of us without the other.
By the time I got to fourth grade, we were both brought home to our local school districts, and although we kept in touch for a while, we soon just kind of drifted apart. We came together again later when we started high school, and occasionally we still communicate even now, but I feel that it was that time in early elementary school that really kind of set the scene for the future.
In fourth grade, I found a new best friend. We were both new students that year -- she was from Arizona-- and because we were both new we were sort of drawn to each other. I remember her coming up to my desk on the second or third day of school and giving me her phone number. From that point on, I think the phone became one of my all-time best friends, but if I'm not mistaken, we're supposed to talk about people here, not objects. We were both kind of shy, and so I think we were drawn to each other for that reason as well. I only attended that school for one year though, and when I told my friend that I'd be going to another school for fifth grade she was really disappointed. Because I was attending a different school, we had different schedules. I got a longer summer vacation, which, at that age, means everything. I called her up on her first day of fifth grade with the intent of asking her how school had gone. I think that was really my first indication that she didn't like the fact that I wasn't with her. She didn't want to talk about school, and actually practically bit my head off when I asked about it. Things settled down after that, and by the time I got to sixth grade she and I were back in the same school again. I think by this time, she and I had sort of started to drift apart a little bit, although we still talked, hung out, so on and so forth. She'd made friends the year before though, and it was like I had to start over again in many ways. Sixth, seventh, and eighth grades are difficult for any kid, and fitting in becomes not so much a want, but a necessity. Even the smallest differences set kids apart from each other, and having a social circle pretty much sets the mood for the entire year. I wasn't one of the "cool" kids anymore. The exceptions that were made for me in school due to my large books, the equipment that I used in class, just the fact that I didn't do things the same way my classmates did them; all these things became cause for problems with the other students rather than something neat and different. It became harder to figure out who was and who wasn't my friend. During my seventh grade year I hung out with a person who seemed like she wanted to be my friend, yet she often did things that, when I look back on them, weren't things that a friend would do. I think I let things happen though because I was so desperate for friends. Sadly, this is a pattern that has shown itself again and again over the years.
The summer I was thirteen, I met someone while I was at camp. She and I were together for about 4 days, but it was as if we'd known each other forever. We shared so many common interests, from music to favorite authors, things like that. For the next few years we saw each other for two weeks at a time while we were at camp, and the rest of the time we communicated via phone or letters. No matter how long we went without talking, we were always able to pick up right where we left off. It's been eighteen years since we first met, and she and I still keep in touch today. We've both grown, changed, and have our lives, but we're still friends. We're living in completely different states, and we don't have as much time to talk these days, but, just like when we were kids, when we do talk and see each other, it's like time hasn't passed at all. To me, this is a true friend. A true friend, in my opinion, is someone who you know is there even if you don't see that person all the time, someone who you know you can count on during both good times and bad to be there, even if it's not physically, and to just accept you regardless of who or what you are. To me, there is a difference between a true friend and a best friend, although in many cases they may be one in the same.
Over the years I've definitely had several friends. Some have been closer to me than others, but each person that I've come to know has left me with memories. From my very early friendships to those that I've made more recently, I've discovered new things about myself, and about others. I've made mistakes and tried to learn from those mistakes. But the one thing I've noticed is that despite everything, best friends come and go, but a true friend will stay around forever.