Tuesday, November 08, 2005

So far away, yet so near to my heart.

The summer of 1991 was an exciting one. I was graduating from high school, leaving for Quebec to polish up my French-talking abilities, starting what I had chosen as my career and slowly stepping into what was supposed to be the life of a grownup. I had many things to look forward to, and I was dying to rush head-on into all of them. Sure, I was going to do stuff that was completely new for me, but this was just so exciting! I was eager to be a “grownup” and leave my childhood behind. Just imagine! But as everything in life, there was a downside: I had to leave my childhood friends behind. We had chosen different careers, and some had even chosen different universities and countries. I knew this was going to be difficult, but at least we knew we were going to bump into each other every once in a while. Besides, we were not strangers. We were only 21 kids in my graduating class and most of us had grown up together ever since we were babies, so for me it was really impossible to think that we would miss out on each other’s lives. Oh, how wrong I was! (I bumped in to JLT a couple of weeks ago and he looked at me as if he had never seen me before in my life. Your loss, honey!). There were people I was surely going to miss; some more than others, but there was one person in particular I was going to miss for the rest of my life: Norma.
I had seen Norma before we became friends, and I frankly didn’t like her. We were on the same grade, but I was in 8th A and she was in 8th B, and people from 8th A didn’t hang out with people from 8th B. Then when we got to 9th grade and A and B were fused into one class. I really can’t remember how we met, or better yet, how we became friends, but I thank God everyday for having let me be her friend.
Norma was the daughter of Dominican immigrants who lived in NYC. She had been born there, but her mother decided she had to come to school here because she wanted her to have good solid Dominican values, and she was surely not going to get any over there. She lived by herself (she had a maid and her aunt lived close nearby), but she was basically an adult by the time she was 15. She walked to school, she went to the supermarket, she did house chores, while we on the other hand were still daydreaming about guys and growing into our bodies. We used to bug her all the time about being a “dominican york”, but she never took it personally ‘cause she understood we were just messing with her.
Things with Norma were never complicated. We hung out in school, we hung out after school, we hung out always. Back then there was neither internet nor cell phones; we were just happy driving around or chilling at home, but whatever we did we always did it together. We sneaked out of school once, we smoked between classes, we got drunk together, we met guys together. It was the best time of my life!
Now that high school was over, Norma was going back to the States for college. I was devastated, but I knew life would go on. Prom night I was a mess. I cried and cried ‘till there was no tomorrow. People thought I was drunk and sad because a guy I was dating was there with his girlfriend, but I was sad because I didn’t want Norma to go. I will never forget her words that night: “look, all of you will miss me, but you’ll only have one person to miss. I, on the other hand, will miss you all, and that’s a whole bunch of people I’ll have to live without!”
As a keepsake, I gave her the key to my car, “Herminia”. We’d had so much fun in that car, it was just part of us. We also split a peso bill in half and each of us kept one half. I still have that bill with me.
At first we kept in touch. We called each other on holidays and special occasions. Not a birthday was missed. She came back on vacation a few years later. Then she got engaged and I was there for her wedding (turned out one of her bridesmaids wasn’t going to be able to make it, so I had to fill in). We wrote back and forth. Whenever I was in the States I always called or tried to. With the coming of the internet we emailed each other, but after a while we just lost touch. Every once in a while my parents ask about her. I still have her graduation pic in my room. I have never forgotten her. Whenever I talk about her, I always mention her as my best friend. She was and always will be my best friend.
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from her. I was so ecstatic I couldn’t even write back for like 3 days after that! I kept reading it over and over. I tell you, tears came flowing down my face. Apparently she had seen a friendship request from me on her Hi5 (though she was never too tech-savvy, I never lost faith in her and hoped one day we’d bump into each other online) and looked for my email and wrote (I’ve always had the same email. Good thing I’m constant with my things). She has even checked out my site every once in a while!
Norma, I’m so glad you wrote. I want you to know you’ve always been in my heart, and even though life has taken us down different paths, you can always count on me for anything you ever need. I promise to write more often and make an effort to keep in touch.
I’ve missed you terribly! Welcome back into my life, Morna!

3 comments:

bau said...

Nunca desistas en tu intento por salvar una amistad. En una ocasion yo desisti y cuando quise salvarla ya mi amiga habia muerto.

Dale gracias que se volvieron a encontrar. Yo no tengo esa oportunidad.

Anonymous said...

Que bueno que volviste a comunicarte con Moma, pues a pesar de que ella se fue del pais hace 14 años y un par de meses, veo que el lazo se mantiene. Ya la llave del Herminia es simbolica, de la misma forma que todas esas tardes que tu ibas a "hacer tareas" a casa de Moma, detras de Plaza Lincoln. Hoy tienes la oportunidad de hablar con ella y decirle cuanto la extranas.

Saludos,

DR

Bracuta said...

O sea! DR! Cómo sabes todo eso???? Cómo sabes que le decíamos Moma??? Me está matando la curiosidad!!! Algún día sabré quién eres????