I found my best friend on the playground in third grade.
She was sitting on the monkey bars by herself, red hair blowing in the fall breeze. I walked up, swung myself up, and sat next to her. Then she turned to me and asked, "could you show me how to get down?"
That little redhead, Kelly, ended up becoming my dearest friend, and my "protector," as my sisters fondly put it.
She wasn't actually my sibling, but I considered her to be. We were different, of course, but we were so similar at the same time. She somehow comprehended the wacky hieroglyphs that are my jokes and responded in kind. We both loved reading, goldfish, and superheroes. She matched my craziness stride for stride, and when I need to let all my emotions out and vent or cry, she is always there with a shoulder to cry on.
Together, we were invincible.
I once read a study conducted by some religious scientist about the theory of twin souls. It's the idea that people who share identical souls can meet again and again in the same lifetime. They might have different bodies, but inside, they are the same. It is a phenomenon that cannot be completely explained by religion or science, but I didn't question it. I had her and I was happy to stay in our own little nerd bubble with her.
But then one day, I was dropping her off at her house after track practice. She stopped, turned around, and said to me, "Soph, the house sold. We are moving by the end of the school year."
I thought she was joking at first, but then I saw her face. She wasn't joking. That was when I started crying.
I had convinced myself for years that nothing could separate us, that we were unbreakable. But it was beyond my control.
She moved in July. The day the van left, I was supposed to be there to see her off. But a problem came up and I didn't make it.
The van and my best friend left that day and I didn't even get to say goodbye.
We were supposed to finish our childhood together to then graduate, go to parties, and move on into the world as adults. Instead, I had to face the last two years of high school without her.
It sucked not seeing Kelly's goofy face every day at her old locker. It sucked even more that when I wanted to talk to her to complain about boys or exclaim over prom dresses, I had to call or text instead of having a simple face-to-face conversation. It sucked that I had to make new friends and form new connections while maintaining the one I had with her while she was 1,875 miles away. It made me miss her even more.
I went and visited her during spring break and as I was walking into the Arizona airport, she tackled me to the ground, laughing and whooping with excitement. I was complaining about my bruised knees, but I was soon crying with happiness and laughing right along with her.
Through the time I spent with her on the break, it truly felt like Kelly hadn't even left home. Sure, we both had changed, but between us, she was still the same person, and so was I.
Leaving was the hardest part. We cried and hugged and promised to see each other again before college. But when I was flying home, sitting in my seat, I was smiling. Because I still missed her, but I felt more connected to her then than ever before.
But even though she isn't physically at home— my home— anymore, I am always comforted by all the memories Kelly and I have together: fifteen years of good times, of Beehive Bread runs and singing along to Disney movies at the top of our lungs.
I like to imagine all of what we are going to do: going to each other's weddings, having playdates with our kids, drinking rosé and complaining about our husbands together. It sounds cliché and corny, but I can see it coming and I can't WAIT.
Momma always tells me that I'm lucky to have found her, that too many people find their other half too late in life. She hit the hammer right on the nail.
I found my soul twin all those years ago on the top of those monkey bars and she is always going to be my best friend, my girl, my favorite person. I am so excited for a future with her.