I watched a documentary in one of my classes about video games (of all things), and I thought of you. We were learning about Call of Duty and how it makes people believe they are in a constant state of war. It makes people believe they are soldiers.
I know it sounds silly, but I thought of you. I know you’re still training, and you aren’t in immediate danger. We all know where you are to send you mail. You’re able to text me back every now and then.
But still, it made me remember that you are not just away at another school. You’re not 15 minutes away like you used to be. You’re now so much more of an adult than I am, even though you’re only a couple months older than me.
Now all I’m thinking about are our memories, because it feels like forever since I’ve seen you. The first time we met, you called me stupid because I was reading one of the Twilight books. I don’t remember which one because you were right- I was stupid. From that moment on, we challenged each other. We were friendly, but we were different than other girls, somehow. We were there for each other at the most random moments. We didn’t try and be friends, but we were.
You were randomly there the same day I auditioned for that arts school we both thought we were so ready for. Neither of us got in, and one of our first moments of high school was bonding over how much we hated our high school. Our friendship became stronger.
We went through countless days of struggling through classes and auditions and shows. And god, did we struggle sometimes. You and I were friends with the same people, and I’m not ashamed to say I tagged along with you because it was safe and comfortable even when I didn’t get along with the same people. When we got dropped from that group, we formed our own, eventually. But we parted. We didn’t think about each other.
Yet we came back together. We went through our first jobs, our first year of college, our first loves. Both of us needed something from the other, but there was no demanding. You didn’t tell me you needed me to babysit you sometimes. I didn’t say I wanted to have fun and stop thinking about school all the time. We, in short, learned how to be independent...together.
Our conflicts went from big-scale fights to solving themselves in 10 minutes with some curse words, a huff of silence, and the two of us finding common ground afterwards to forget we had fought at all.
I’ve missed you a lot more than I can convey in any letter. The last time I saw you, like really saw you, was in January. I went to the gym with you at 6 a.m. because you wanted to get one last workout in before you left. You were so nervous you wouldn’t make it, that you’d get sent home because you couldn’t run 1.5 miles in 18 minutes. I couldn’t help but stare at you in awe; you didn’t even know what a role model you were to me, panting and sweating and freaking out because your dream was to be the best.
You didn’t know you already were. I wanted to spend any time I could with you. I asked questions I don’t remember the answers to. I hugged you too much and screamed too loud and wanted to roll the windows down every time we drove anywhere the last week to blast music and make memories and laugh.
I got excited any time I saw a letter from you in the mailbox, every envelope a performance of me running to grab the mail and sprinting back to read it to all our friends (and anyone else who would listen). I was Charlie Bucket with a golden ticket.
You’ll never understand how proud of you I am. I know I’m not your mom, but I feel like I’m watching you grow into someone I’ve never met, though I’m so excited to get to know her. She has a new snake tattoo and she has shorter hair and she looks like the same Instagram model I know and love. I’m really excited about this.
Come home soon. Write to me when you can. We’ll all be waiting, and you can bet I’m going to tackle you and tell you everything and show you all the videos and photos I’ve been collecting.