I long for the days of old. You know those days. The days where you had no care in the world. Pain and sorrow were little. Laughs and jokes were abundant. All you had to do was get out of bed, smile, experience the joys of your day.
As a teenager I used to spend the majority of my summers in Louisiana. It was a trip I looked forward to every year. Looking back, I think I just looked forward to seeing my best friend. We would write letters and call each other (cell phones and email barely existed in those days) throughout the year, maybe see each other during the holidays, but those summer months were ours. They belonged to us and we belonged to them. Oh the fun we had. Mischief was never-ending. We tortured Nathan and Khodi as much as we could. Just to the point that we wouldn’t get into too much trouble for doing it. We went to the creek, shopping, running around base, the woods behind the house. I spent many hot, humid days at the basketball courts that were just down from the house. Kheli, who was less than skilled, would come sit and watch or goof off while I tried to “improve” my game. She would never let me get too serious about it. How could I when I had a shadow that wouldn’t allow me to?!
Kheli told me a few years ago that she used to copy me. When I asked what she meant she said that when I started my basketball shorts wearing phase (which hasn’t ended by the way) she started wearing basketball shorts. When I started wearing bandanas she started wearing bandanas. And so on. I never realized it. I suspect the reason for it is because all I saw was my best friend. I didn’t care what she wore or that she was a hot mess most days. I was spending time with some of the people I loved the most.
Tracie took over as a surrogate sister after my sister died in 1995. They were best friends and I had already spent much of my time with her and the kids before they moved. Kheli and I were a year and half apart and Nathan and Khodi a few years younger. I remember my sister used to take me over to Tracie’s and we’d order pizza and watch movies. At the time I only like the sauce and the crust of pizza and Nathan only like the toppings. I would take the toppings off of mine and give them to him and vice versa. Kheli would make so much fun of us. When I would visit Louisiana Khodi would follow Kheli and me wherever we went. She was still pretty young and we would get annoyed that she was tagging along because she was pretty sensitive and Kheli could not keep herself from annoying Khodi. Many times Kheli would do something and I would take the blame just so she would not get into trouble. What are friends for. But trust, Tracie had no problems laying down the law. Of course, two teenage girls only pretended to listen. We would giggle about it later on. There was no doubt we were two peas in a pod.
At the age of 16 I got my first tattoo courtesy of us lying and saying Tracie was my legal guardian. It was easy to do. The next summer I got my second one. Once again, an easy feat for us. Tracie always promised me she would be the first to get me a tattoo and she did. Of course, the hearts I got, that were to look like the ones her and my sister got togther, turned out to look more like cherries. Now they look like cherries that just continue to grow. Kheli was so pissed I was getting a tattoo and she wasn’t. I think she pouted for a good two or three days. Then got pissed because I could not get in the pool.
One summer we all went to New Orleans. We had a blast. It’s the only time I’ve been. We were cramped in a small hotel room, but it just meant we were united closer together. Kheli and I talked about returning to New Orleans as adults – reliving the joys of days past. We never made it. We never relived those days.
I vividly remember my time in Louisiana. More so than many other things in my life. It was hard to leave each time, but I knew I would be back. I knew no matter where in this world I was Kheli would be there. When I turned 18 and prepared for college, life got busy and I lost touch with her. A few years later we were back in touch and it was like no time passed at all. Kheli and I travelled down two very different paths at that time in our lives. I continued with my education and she started having children. We were not far in distance at that time but life got in the way. We still talked multiple times a day but something always thwarted our plans to see each other. Once again life got busy, and our paths went in very different directions. We lost touch for several years and then one day there she was again. I still remember the first thing she said. “Hey Holls, missed you. Whatcha been up to?” Like no time passed at all. It was then we reconnected and our bond and our connection was deeper than it had ever been. We talked about life and all the great and horrible things that happened over the years. We reminisced about all of the fun we had. She was back. We were back. We stayed in constant contact. We talked about trying to plan time to see each other. It would take a few more years for that to happen. We lost contact briefly do to some things she had to take care of.
It had been more than 10 years, maybe closer to 15, by the time we saw each other again. July 2015 I finally saw my best friend again. I got to hug her, hold her, lean on her. We talked for hours. I scolded her, lectured her, praised her. She promised to enroll in school, stay clean, make something of her life. No more drugs. No more association with certain groups of people. Not long after she told me she was enrolling in school. I don’t know if she ever did or not. She told me she wanted to be a LCDC. I was proud of her and made sure she knew it. A few months after that, we had a huge blow up. An argument of epic proportions. The one thing I never did was lie to her. I told her like it was whether she wanted to hear it or not. It was that truth and honesty that led to her dramatic response and actions. I kept my promises to her. She may not have seen that herself but I did and do.
I long for the days when Kheli and I were naive to the harsh realities of life. Where the only care in the world was how much trouble we could cause Tracie. I long for the days when I looked forward to seeing her. I long for the days when we would giggle about all the mischief we got into. I long for my best friend. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t speak to her for a year and a half. I thought about her all the time. I wished for peace in her life. We were still connected. Our lives on different paths but our hearts still linked together by our bond.
I miss her now more than I ever have. I guess it’s because I know I will never hear her voice again. I will never see her face again. We will never get the opportunity to reconcile. She is on my mind every second of every day. I wake up thinking about her and fall asleep thinking about her. 25 years…my longest real friendship. No matter where we were in life or how different our paths we always found our way back to each other, but once. This time we never found our way back. We were never given the opportunity. The only hope I have is that she knew how immensely I loved and cared about her. There are many things I would do over if I could but I can’t. I hope she knew her friendship and love were enough. I never wanted perfection from her just her own happiness.
I miss you, Khel. I’ve got your 6. Forever and always.