It is my first best friend’s birthday.
Elementary school was hard — I was smart and weird, which is not the best combination for fitting in — and when I met my first best friend, it seemed like a gift.
There are ridiculous pictures of us dressing up like our American Girl dolls. We were both passionate about Jonathan Taylor Thomas (who is decidedly not my type — I think I was just going along with the affections of the masses).
I remember her parents’ names. I remember her little brother. I remember the address of the house she lived in when we were friends, how neat she kept her room (in contrast to my tornado), her first dog and her fondness for Mariah Carey and Amy Grant.
In time, we grew apart, as childhood friends often do. We wound up at the same college, and I emailed her when I found out. She didn’t respond. I probably sent her a Facebook friend request, and she didn’t add me as a friend. In a non-answer, you have an answer.
But today is her birthday, and I remember.
Eventually, I guess I stopped learning people’s birthdays. I still struggle to remember the birthdays of people who are very important to me. But there are some birthdays that I’m probably going to remember forever.
A middle school crush who taught me to play chess. A sweet college boyfriend who did a lot of really crazy things because he said he wanted me to have positive memories to look back on someday. The friend of my soul whom I met on Halloween while wearing a Viking helmet.
I haven’t seen some of these people in many years. But when their birthdays come along, I remember.
There should be a greeting card for this.
I know we don’t talk now, and there are reasons for that, but I remember, and I want to celebrate you anyway. Happy birthday.
But there are social rules, aren’t there? You begin to ask yourself: Why am I still writing on this person’s Facebook wall, 10 years later? You question what coming back into someone’s life would mean. You worry about what you might discover. You might not get along anymore. You might come face to face with all the little things that annoyed you. You might notice how much you have grown apart — how very many things have changed since the time you two shared.
Sometimes, it’s better to stay gone.
Instead of a greeting, I sometimes send people a happy birthday wish. Happy birthday energy.
I am thinking of you today. I hope you are well.
I hope that you have dreams and are working toward them.
That there is a dream you once had that came true.
That people treat you well.
That the decisions you make are right for you.
That you can name five things that bring you joy.
That you have been surprised with goodness.
I’m told that when you send someone energy, they always receive it. I have no proof of this, but it seems like it could be true.
Happy birthday, first best friend. Happy belated birthday, those who have been important to me. Happy one more day of what I hope is a blessedly happy existence. May your journey be long and your heart be at ease.