A friend of mine left last week to spend the year in South America. I’m going to miss her. She started out being the intense, shy and awkward daughter of my neighbor-friends. Somehow I’ve grown attached to her as a friend.
She’s the same age as my oldest son, which puts her in a category much like hummingbirds or other wild animals. When you run across one by itself and it deigns to stay in your company it’s a rare and wondrous thing. You know at any moment they may figure out you’re not one of them, and bolt. The first time she came berry picking with me, alone without her mom, it felt like a gift. When she reminded me in the following years that it was time for us to go picking, it was a different kind of gift. She seemed to enjoy my company.
It’s one thing for a hummingbird to accidentally alight on your shoulder, as wonderful as that is. It’s quite another for that little hummer to seek you out the following day and follow you around the yard while you garden. That’s the feeling I get every time Annie calls or shows up on my doorstep. It fades as we get into the back and forth of being friends, but I haven’t stopped being honored to have her show up in the first place.
I’m not saying I’m in awe of Annie every time we make contact. I’m not. I’m just aware what a great privilege it is to have a young person for a friend when you’re not a young person anymore yourself.
She’s not perfect, but overall she’s a remarkable young woman. She prepared and left for this trip to the bottom of the world while her parents were half-way across the country, something I never would have been able to do. She’s staying with a family in Chile and going to school. Impressive. While she’s in Chile I hope she remembers me and makes contact regularly.