That is all I heard from Harper upon driving away from her former elementary school during a weekend trip to Evanston. A glance in the rear view mirror revealed Harper fighting to keep the tears from exploding.
“How do you feel?”
“I miss my friends.”
We had just experienced the most beautiful, “could only have been orchestrated and crafted by God” moment at Lincolnwood school where we had made an appointment to spend some quality time with the BEST first grade teacher ever in the history all of first grade teachers in the world. No, this is not hyperbole. Please. Until you get yourself some Ms. Beckstedt, you have NO IDEA of the truth I speak.
After chatting away with Ms. B, we stepped outside and received a gracious gift from above. ALL of Harper’s old buddies were on the playground.
Ok, if the statement about Ms. Beckstedt was hyperbole, THIS isn’t.
Amidst screams of “HARPER!!!!!” and “You’re back!!!!!” were hugs and laughter. Harper held court for 45 glorious minutes.
We took ample photos. I witnessed many sprints across the playground as Harper spotted and ran to hug one friend after another.
My heart was full. And heavy. For I knew we’d have to leave shortly.
As we drove off, the car became silent.
Thankfully, we were on route to Izzy’s house (a stellar piece of planning on my part). Izzy and Harper are approaching 10 years of friendship. Yes, those friends at school who lavished so much love on my girl are special and unique and will always hold a place in Harper’s heart and memory, but how do you describe the beauty of HISTORY to a 9 year old? For this gig with Izzy? It’s the real long-term deal.
I felt the same sentiments upon visiting our old condo building late one night during our trip (thank you Bernstein’s for the midnight playdate). For this was where our family began. This was where Harper and her friend Alli (only three weeks apart) grew both in and out of the womb. Running up those stairs to visit with Alli and her parents was completely like “old home” week. HISTORY.
How do you explain to a 9 year old, who as my friend Judie put it, “lives for each moment”, that the lasting friendships, those that matter, will always be there? The Izzy’s. The Alli’s. Couple that with the fact that George and I actually have a relationship with both girl’s parents spanning back 10 years, and, well seriously? These peeps are solids.
Unfortunately, I think it took me 40 years to “get” friendship. And as I chatted with girlfriend after girlfriend during our visit, I was warmed inside. No, we don’t live in Evanston any longer, but not once did my conversations with old friends seem choppy, uncomfortable, or stilted. I came home to Beaver knowing that my friendships, the HISTORICAL ones still had depth. What are miles?
I made a commitment to Harper to let her email friends once a day AFTER all other homework and chores have been completed. I also challenged her to use the phone more often (she can’t stand it). I must remain committed to assisting her in keeping these friendship alive – just as I have worked so very hard to do for myself. For me, Facebook, texting, this blog – they are connections to the people I love.
As we pulled into Beaver, I wondered what type of reaction Harper would have.
It was a defining moment. For I now know, without a doubt, that she feels planted here. And while there are roots in Evanston that will forever connect her to Chicagoland, she does indeed feel at home.