like seeing ghosts


Sometimes I pretend that we're all still together. That we still call ourselves a gang, which is silly I know, because I don't think we ever did. Months ago I told myself that it was time to let go, it was time to look back with a smile instead of forward with a wobbly frown. Honestly, I thought I was done. I saw you all again and said it wouldn't be the last time, but I knew in my heart I was saying goodbye. That night, I cried twice. Once before desert when I looked around at all of your faces and I saw no children there. There was wisdom etched into the leanness of your fingers, knowledge crouching under your lips. I had wondered before, but at that moment I knew. The years of childish play were over, I saw it clearly. I made a speech and I said the things I knew I should say, but left out the things I wanted to. The things I said:
  • I love you all
  • I'm glad we're friends
  • I hope we stick around
What I didn't:
  • I don't want to be left out
  • I love you far too much
  • Please don't leave me stranded
I cried while I said the things I was supposed to, because I meant it. I cried because of the others more. You all smiled, someone clapped, you all sang me a song. It was hard to hold myself together. At the end of the night, the final people left, it was the dark part of night when everything is more alive with sleep. We stood in the hall, I think we were afraid to say goodbye because it was like closing a good book after staying up all night reading until the last page crackled and the horizon brighted. Hugs were shared like passover bread, ending with handshakes that lasted seconds too long and ages too short. "We should hang out this summer" we agreed. That was the last I saw you. 

Letting go, I told myself, is going to be easy after this. You've said your goodbyes and it's done. People grow up, they change, sometimes they don't want to be the person you think that they are. Sometimes you're not the person you were, you're taller, you have more hair and fewer bones now. That's because people change. I said it was simple. I never thought I'd be a person who smiles sadly when I see your pictures. Pictures with people who never had a spit pact with you in the backyard tree house when we swore about nothing and the clubs that we forgot. Pictures with people who have never laid under the stars until we've almost fallen asleep, only to be awoken by a shooting star. I never thought I'd know nothing about you and the person you are now. Who knew I wouldn't know about your crushes on girls who giggle and blush. I always thought you'd know about mine on boys so much cooler than you. I didn't know I'd be on the outside watching you grow up. 

Its like I'm seeing ghosts, when I see you all by chance. In stores buying groceries, in restaurants, and buying clothes. We share a transparent embrace and smiles mixed with slight frowns, we don't know where to start any more. We don't know where to end.

The second time I cried that night was after you all left and I laughed and hugged my sisters and we all teared up. I don't know what they were thinking, but I felt lighter than I had in ages. But, maybe it's okay that I still think about you as much as I always have. Maybe it's a good thing that when people ask "Who are your best friends?" I say your last name without hesitation. Here's me trying, again, to let go of the past and look at it with warmth and love and be happy that you're happy. I wish I knew if you're happy about the same for me.

xoxo Johanna Grace