Ties of Memory

26 03 2009

I don’t know if these things have any correlation, but I’m sure somehow they must. A little over a year ago I reconnected with my best friend from high school. Rachel and I met freshman year during cheerleading tryouts (we bonded over the fact that we both cheered even though cheerleaders themselves seemed the bane of our existence) and were pretty much inseparable for four years.

In many ways we were about as different as two people can be: she a pint-sized, Beatles-loving, thrift store shopping, artistic type and me loving jazz and country, verging on preppy and incapable of drawing a believable stick figure. Yet in many more ways we were utterly the same, and the combination of our similarities and differences balanced out to make us, in all ways, kindred spirits.

Rachel and I had a bond I’d never had with anyone else, nor can I truly say I’ve had that same bond with anyone since. It’s that very rare connection that is so much more than friendship; we balanced each other, leaned on each other, sent each other into fits of uncontrollable laughter over the most ridiculous of discussions and even had conversations during which words were spare and sometimes wholly absent.

Then somehow, after college ended, Rachel and I lost touch for some time. But all the time that we didn’t speak I thought of Rachel often; at random moments I’d be making the cookies she used to love or reading a book of poetry and Rachel would crop up in some way. Then, finally, we were back in touch, and though years had passed (during which time she’d had a baby, I’d moved to New York and we’d both pursued advanced degrees), it was the same fantastic and unique connection we’d had all those years ago, and now even stronger somehow.

I say all this because it just so happens that while I was in New York working on my MA in English and exploring various aspects and instances of memory through literature, Rachel was working with memory through art. This is one of those strange and rare coincidences that seems too incredible to be merely coincidence. I am certain that it speaks volumes to bonds of friendship and female intuition that are stronger than the miles or even the silence. Despite years apart my friend and I were still linked by the one thing we had of each other during that time: memory.

Whether this speaks to the strength of memory or the strength of female friendship I’m still uncertain. More likely, it’s a combination of the two and whatever it is, it’s amazing.

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