It was a warm summer day. Like any good story this one involves a bunch of middle school age kids running around a park playing variations of tag adapted to our local surroundings. It was a game I am not sure if the neighborhood kids invented but it was a game we played called 1-2-3, me. During our lay session we a bunch of us wound up inside one of the laundromats. I was sitting there in the small enclosed space with a handful of people. I am going to be honest I don’t remember everyone that was there. Just one person, her name was Samantha.
This is a story I have been waiting to tell. Don’t worry this one has a much happier ending than most of the rest. As do the remaining ones here on out. Oh, they all end in some for of heartbreak but this is one I was able to survive unscathed.
I remember the day I met Samantha vividly. I had just moved to a new town called Jackpot, Nevada. Once again I found myself the new kid in a new town getting ready to start a new school in the coming weeks. It was mid-summer probably late July if memory serves me right. I had met a kid named Dallas through my mom. She worked with his mom and we were close to the same age.
Dallas was introducing me to his friends. He started with his girlfriend, Samantha, and her sister Shawna. I was new to town so didn’t have a girlfriend yet. I was a ways off from discovering other things so this would have to do for now.
We walked up to the two girls and he introduced me. Shawna was the goofier one. She got to talking to my sister Candy and the two ran off together doing whatever it was they did. Sam stayed there and told me everything about herself. She asked me what my favorite soda was and when I said Mountain Dew she laughed, it was her favorite too. We ended up liking most of the same stuff. Ace of Base “The Sign” was both our favorite CD, at the time at least. We talked about that. We talked about our favorite video games. We talked about our favorite books. As the afternoon dragged on I began to etch her face, her smile, her eyes into my memory where I would store them for all time.
I don’t know how it happened but I remember walking back to my house thinkin wow that is the most amazing girl I had ever met. I was very happy for my friend Dallas to have such an interesting girlfriend. I was not at all devastated when they broke up mere days later. I was just there on her doorstep to offer a friend if she needed it. Which she accepted. And friend was good enough for me.
Samantha was a little younger than I was. Not by much. I had just turned 15, she was halfway to 12. But the age gap was exacerbated by my being in high school and her being in 5th grade. Obviously this meant we couldn’t become romantically involved which was fine. I was just happy to have a friend I could talk to. That’s where our story begins.
Samantha was the girl I could share everything with. Well, almost everything as it turns out. We spent so much time together you might have mistaken us for a couple, except for the lack of affection. Whenever us kids, as in my sisters, her and her sister, the other neighborhood kids and myself would go swimming her and I would stay in the shallow end talking about whatever. Splashing each other. Chasing each other around the pool. Whenever there was a game of tag we used to run off and hide together. Because she was friends with both of my sisters and her sister became one of my sisters BFF’s, she was always around.
Most of our time together was spent being kids. We played board games. We listened to music on my dad’s stereo in the living room. We sat on the couch and watched movies. That couch is where we did the vast majority of our bonding her and I. We watched so many movies together. Sure there were usually other people there but not always. We watched everything from the Fifth Element, Pitch black, Anaconda, Men in Black, She’s All That, Pleasantville and more. Any movie I watched with her there I stored in my brain as a movie worth revisiting. Even if the movie sucked, I could just remember the time I watched it with her.
I watched Samantha have her run of boyfriends. She was quite beautiful and very desirable. Despite my growing crush, which yes she was my first crush ever mind you, I tried to always let her have her boyfriends. Did I interfere or try to break them up, okay maybe more than once. But she was quick to remind me the age difference and other reasons why our hooking up was not an option for her. The biggest reason she gave, which stabbed at first but I welcome now, she thought of me like a sibling. I wont use the word she did because, trans, but I will say the sentiment holds weight.
It wasn’t like we never had our close encounters. The first time I did ask her out and she said flat no thanks I tried to jump of a cliff at church camp. Needless to say that didn’t go so well for me. Truth be told I was often the one she turned to after a breakup because she knew once the boundaries were set, I would always be there for her. And I was. She was there for my 16th birthday and it was the best birthday I ever had to this day. I don’t remember anything else about it just she was there and that was all that mattered.
I don’t want to paint a false picture. We had a rocky friendship. Her parents went through a divorce. I buried myself into my religion trying desperately to pray her into falling for me. We did eventually push each other away but not before forming some lasting memories.
I dare not try to recall the exact timeline of events nor the specific year. My memory is a jumbled mess of images that are hard to sort out. What I can tell you was I was in either 10th or 11th grade. I had been going around town asking different girls to the upcoming Sweetheart Ball. It was the annual Valentine’s Day dance our school threw to torture young hormonal teenagers. I normally went dateless to dances. I had a lot of female friends via my sisters so I had no shortage of girls willing to shave me a single dance. But this one was different I asked her point blank if she would go with me this one time, give me one chance to be a gentleman and win her over. To my surprise, she said yes. It would be hyperbole to say it was the greatest night of my life, but it absolutely was memorable.
We slow danced to Maria Carry’s Butterfly. I tear up every time I hear that song to this day. She wore a cute black dress. She saved me more than one dance but that was the one that stood out. It was then I realized I didn’t need her to be my girlfriend, she gave me something better, a deeper friendship and an understanding of what true love really is. The night ended as expected, I walked her home, no kiss, and walked home and went to bed with the last smile I ever wore naturally strewn across my face.
Don’t fret dear readers, this tale has not a sad ending in the same sense as the others. We remain friends to this day. I old her I was trans in 2018 and she expressed her happiness for me. She moved to Baltimore around the time of 9/11. She has been there ever since raising her boys. She is a fantastic mother. Although distance and time have led us to drift apart, I still hold a special place in my heart for the memories we did share. I purged myself of deadname’s photos as best as I could but I dared not touch a single photo that had her in it. I will cherish every memory we shared, even the bad ones, to the end of time.
We had some great times together. She was there through my entire teenage adolescence. She was there to call me on the phone the day Dominic died. She was there to ask me how I was doing when she learned about Carmen. She was there for me when I needed her. I did my best to be there for her when she needed me. Naturally we had other friends, other family, but to this day I don’t care how or why we drifted apart. I don’t hold onto the arguments we had. The fights we fought. I don’t even allow myself to recall the times I went to far and suffered her wrath. I hold onto the good memories, let the bad ones give me clarify and thank God every day I had her in my life when I did. I wouldn’t have any idea what a true friend looks like to this day if I hadn’t had her there to show me all those years ago.
AS with everything in our shared experience, I am sure she meant more to me than I did to her. I did push her away like I said. We don’t talk anymore. We don’t even message on Facebook. I say hi once in a while, sometimes she says she is busy but most of the time we pretty much have gone our separate ways. I don’t need to, I won’t get into what went down between us that put a wedge between me and my once best friend. It doesn’t matter because like I said, despite our troubles, despite our drifting apart, despite our living two very different lives separated by a great distance, we’ve always been there for each other when it mattered most. Is he in my life now? No, but she will always remain in my heart and that’s good enough for me.