Yesterday was a bitter sweet day.
Yesterday I took the stairs up to the attic of my mind. The sun filtered through the dormer windows, catching dust fairies and the indistinct shapes of the clutter I have piled in front of the spaces of my memories.
Yesterday I moved the clutter: the groceries, the school run, earning a living and the various hoops through which we jump as we try to add value to the world.
I shifted the clutter and in the dust I found the box I was looking for. A box I treasure.
I opened it, not aware of exactly what was in it, but sure it was filled with the warmth and companionship I imagined.
Yesterday, as I said goodbye to my oldest friend, I opened the box of memories of our friendship and they all floated out, like butterflies, some beautiful things I had forgotten, some things I remembered but had concealed with daily clutter, all things I will treasure.
She is off to start a new life in California. I’m a little bit cross. Not because I don’t want her to go, but because I want to go with her. I want to see her new horizons for myself, I want the new breezes to also touch my face, I want her new sunshine to warm me.
We have been friends since childhood. We were little girls swinging on tree ropes and having sleepovers, riding bikes and swimming in rock pools. We became teenagers, writing secret letters, eating chocolates at midnight, spending summer holidays together at Kromme River.
Some Decembers we thought the wind would never stop blowing and some years we thought our skin could not take another ray of sunshine.
We planned parties, we discussed boys, we dreamed up outfits.
Soon we were in our twenties, driving matching cars. (Coincidentally our Dads bought us yellow Citi golfs.) We worked in the volunteer ministry together, we shared a part time job.
And one day, out of a haze of Mr Wrongs, came two Mr Rights. We were bridesmaids for each other and then, geographically, we went our separate ways. Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town.
Most of our adult life has kept us in different cities. The clutter of our lives keeps us from writing and visiting and calling as much as our history might make you imagine that we would.
But when we see each other, nothing changes. When babies arrive, when family members are ill, when loved ones are lost, when holidays come, as watershed moments unfold, we are the same. We hear each other. We love each other. We talk to each other.
We can lie under a rug on a cold Joburg afternoon and watch Oprah. We can laugh together about drinking sour milk or cooking the price tag onto the butternut. And we can cry together at a graveside on a windswept hill.
And so my beautiful flower, my amazing friend, I guess I must let you go. Because geography has never defined our friendship, proximity has never been the glue.
I know that when I see you again, nothing will have changed. You will still be the same person you were when we were at seven or eight, the same you that you were at sixteen, the woman you were at twenty-two, and the beautiful person you are today.
The clutter may accumulate, but the box of butterflies will be secure, full of memories, ready to float up whenever I open the lid.
Travel safe, my friend, keep your eyes on that horizon. One day you will see me there again.