i wonder if any of you remember me. like i remember you.
luke: standing on a desk, pumping your fists in the air. drunk on imaginary power for the few minutes that the teacher was gone. head downcast when the rats sold you out to the P.E. teacher. the light in your eyes flickered. the wavering flame of rebellion in the face of your punishment. the example for the rest of the class: that an empty classroom is not always what it seems.
connor: you were sweet. i went to your house once. and you showed me around. there was a loft with a grand piano, and bookshelves on the walls. and it looked out to the living room downstairs. it was there that you told me about how milk goes sour after sitting in the sun for too long. and you seemed so fascinated. and it's funny. that's how i learned to not leave milk out. was 'cause of you.
summer: there was a day. when i pressed on the edges of the borders of the playground. we weren't supposed to go that far. but i did. it was a bad day. an off day. and when i sat alone, you came to talk to me. we sat on that thing - the metal webbing that covered the pipe that stuck out of the ground. whatever it's called. i think you had the same idea. you wanted to get away. and for that one day. that one recess. we acted like friends.
adele: we were friends. for a time. not because we really wanted to be. but because no one else would have us. or maybe... you were just kind. and you stayed with me because no one else would have me. maybe that was it. but you were quiet. spoke softly. had straight red hair, and glasses sitting atop your button nose, dotted with freckles. you were mormon. you kept trying to convert me. i kept trying to convert you. and eventually, we decided to stop arguing about religion. and just be friends. because if you wouldn't have me. then who else would?
bruce: you won the contest in music class. for designing your own instrument. you were more innovative than all of us. you won the science fair, with your invention. a different kind of wheelchair. because - and i forget - someone in your family needed something like it. and i don't know. if you were very close to anyone. but i was always envious. of you. in a way.
because you showed me what it looked like. to be successful. and stay humble.
tonya: i got to go to your house a lot. it was are really big house. with a big yard. a sweeping curving staircase. many rooms filled with many toys, and a room with a shelf full of antique dolls that were only slightly unsettling. you really liked them though. i always remember it as a place filled with warm light on one end, and shadowed in darkness in the other. because the other half of the house had big long drapes over most of the windows, clouding the light. it was so fancy. so nice. i felt like i was in a mansion. and then you had a nice cavalier king charles spaniel as your dog, which you loved. it was because of your dog, who was so nice, that i was able to get over my fear of dogs...
now i love them. so thank you for that.
you had a little sister you didn't get along with. you were always talking about how she bothered you, how she broke your toys, how she did this and that. but when i met her, she didn't seem that bad. she reminded me a lot of me, actually, with my older sister. she just wanted to play. she just wanted to be with you.
but i get it. we don't always notice it at the moment. i hope that eventually love replaced. what used to be annoyance.
esther: you were beautiful. quiet. sweet. kept to yourself, most of the time. and everyone knew you as the quiet girl who never spoke up. but one day in class. a bunch of the boys were egging you on. chanting. trying to get you to talk. and it was stupid. so i told them to stop. if you didn't want to talk you didn't have to. and they backed down. i think as soon as i said it, the realized how stupid it was to put so much energy in trying to just get a girl to talk because she didn't want to.
but i didn't really remember this. or think much of it. until one day, much later, you came up to me with a letter. we rarely spoke. but you'd written a letter saying thank you for that.
i still have it.
it reminds me. to keep fighting. to speak reason where there is chaos, and disharmony. to tell people. to stop being stupid.
but in nicer words.
kayla: i never told you. and it was likely. hardly noticeable. but you were better at art. than me. and i was jealous. that you got the spotlight. that i didn't. and it was wrong of me. to hold it against you. for doing what you love with passion. and pursuing it with more discipline. and courage. than i ever had.
so you go be an artist. you go be you. because you. are talented. and make beautiful things. let that be your legacy.
sierra: you had a broken family. and an attitude. your father drove us to the lake for a field trip, and i remember. i had to keep my window down. because he kept smoking. and i couldn't breathe. but then he turned the radio on to some raunchy songs. and then he let you steer the wheel for a few minutes. and i swore my heart was going to beat out of my chest.
i thought i was going to die. but then his hands went over yours, taking control again. and you went back to your seat. and even though what he did was dangerous. with other kids in the car. i always wondered... if my dad. would ever have that confidence in me. or if he would ever love me. like that.
because even though your dad seemed a little crazy. i could tell he loved you. a lot.
megan: how is it? that we were never really close friends? but we kept running into each other? we both jumped from school to school. over and over. and somehow our paths crossed twice. once. in the second grade. and i vividly remember the day you were about to leave. you were closer with all of the other girls there. and we hardly knew each other. but i remember i stopped you, and i looked into your eyes. i told you i would never forget that moment. that i would never forget those eyes.
i don't know why i was so dramatic.
but i haven't forgotten. so if it means anything. when you came to the other school for seventh grade. i was happy to see you again.
amber: we fought over who got first in line. because we liked to be. the line. leader. and first. but then one day, i found out how to beat the system. just once. i figured out that whenever we went to chapel, the kid who lead at the front on the way there. was always last on the way back. because of the way we filed in. and filed out. so i birthed this strategy, to go to the end of the line. so i'd be at the front on the way back.
it wasn't long before you caught on too. and where we used to rush to the front to be in front of the line, now we were fighting over who stood in the back. and you were stubborn. more stubborn than me. and eventually. i conceded. because i realized it didn't really matter. that much. to be first. and it mattered more. that i didn't hold petty bitterness against you. because of it.
connor: (another connor) you and luke used to be best friends. but then there was a fallout that i missed. in the two years i was gone. i was never told what happened. but i always wonder. what could have happened? to tear apart two best friends? you two used to be together all of the time. you were so close. i was worried. that if it could happen to you. maybe it would happen to me. and my friends. i knew that i had to hold my friendships. close to my heart.
so that we would not become. broken fragments of what was once a whole.
sara: you... are the hardest to write about. because we were never really friends. or anything close to that. because you never treated me. like one. even though you had the chance to. so... perhaps. you deserve. your own poem.
... yes. you do.
but while i'm here. i want to say i'm sorry.
i was reminded. that you've likely moved on, and become a better person. that's what it looks like.
because i was reminded. that you're more than just my memories of you.
all of you are.
and i hope you're out there doing something great with your lives. especially you nathaniel. and bruce. and connor. (i remember you left. to go to a music school. you were very good.) you all had a lot of talent. a lot of promise.
i hope you're okay.