Young Old Friends

At the end of this month, my daughter’s best friend, Silver, will be moving across the state, a 4-hour drive, with her family. Maisy and Silver have been friends for nearly 8 years, which is impressive given that my daughter won’t turn 9 for another 2 weeks. Their friendship began before their memories of it do; for both of them it’s just always been there. So to celebrate the end of another year of great storytelling at Tell Us A Story, we’re celebrating the end of one great chapter of my daughter’s life (and the beginning of a new one).

Me: What is your first memory of meeting each other?

Maisy: I remember our first sleep over. I was 2 and a half. We ate pizza!

Me: Wait a minute, there’s NO way you could remember that. You’re way too young.

Silver: I don’t remember much from before kindergarten.

Maisy: Oh wait a minute! I remember our first day of school, realizing that we’d be at the same school…

Silver: Yeah!

Carpooling to school in 2011.

Carpooling to school in 2011.

Me: You guys didn’t know that ahead of time?

Unison: No!

Silver: But then we found out that we weren’t in the same class. That was kind of sad.

Leslie (Silver’s Mom): Do you remember spending time together in the Town Common? When we’d go and listen to music?

Maisy: Oh yeah and we’d run down that hill and yell “Wheeee”?

At the Town Common, listening to music, 2015.

At the Town Common, listening to music, 2015.

Me: What else do you remember?

Silver: I have this picture of me in my stroller and Maisy in her stroller, of us playing with Mr. Potato Head.

Maisy: There’s a picture from my Pirate and Princess birthday party [her 5th birthday] and everyone’s all dressed up…

Silver: I remember that, too, that was really awesome…

Maisy's 5th birthday party (also pictured, Stella and Jude)

Maisy’s 5th birthday party
(also pictured, Stella and Jude)

Me: So those are some of your earliest memories?

Silver: [laughing] The good old days!

Maisy: Good times, good times.

Silver: You know, we’re not that old yet. So they’re not really “old” days.

Maisy: Yeah.

Zach (Maisy’s Dad): But you’re over twice as old as you were in those pictures.

Maisy: Damn!

[laughter]

Me: Girls!

[interview falls into chaos for several minutes as the girls discover that yelling into the recorder makes the audio graph move]

Me: Maisy, tell me your favorite thing about Silver.

Maisy:  Ummmm. She’s a good friend.

Me: What does that mean?

Maisy: It means she’s there for me, she sticks up for me, and she’s been my friend for a very, very, very, very…

[here Silver joins in on the “verys”]

Maisy: Well, you get the idea.

Silver attending Maisy's play in  2012.

Silver attending Maisy’s play in 2012.

Me: Silver, what’s your favorite thing about Maisy?

Silver: She can be extremely funny when she tries. She is loyal. And, like Maisy says, we’ve been friends for a very long time, so we bonded.

Maisy: Yadda, yadda, yadda,

Silver: And all that stuff.

Maisy and Silver pretending to get married in 2009.

Maisy and Silver pretending to get married in 2009.

Me: Maisy, what is your favorite thing to do when you’re hanging out with Silver?

Unison: Wellllll…

Maisy: It depends on where we are and what we have…

Silver: And so on and so forth…

Maisy: Et cetera, et cetera…So give me a certain place…

Me: Okay, what’s your favorite thing to do in Maisy’s bedroom?

Maisy and Silver and Stella at a performance of the Nutcracker in 2009.

Stella, Maisy and Silver at a performance of the Nutcracker in 2009.

Maisy: We usually talk or play games.

Silver: Or read a bit.

Maisy: Sometimes we draw, like we were doing today.

Me: What do you talk about when you talk?

Silver: [laughing] We can’t remember…

Maisy: There’s no certain thing we talk about. It’s always different.

Silver: Yeah.

Maisy: Sometimes we talk about an event that’s coming up, sometimes we talk about a sleep over that’s coming up, you know, anything that’s coming up. Or something just out of the blue that we want to talk about.

Halloween 2010

Halloween 2010

Me: Silver, when you’re at your house, in your room, what’s your favorite thing to do when Maisy comes over?

Unison: Ummmmm….

Silver: Film our Lego show.

Maisy: Yeah!

Me: What’s a Lego Show?

Silver: Well, the Lego Show is something we made up.

Maisy: We made it up and this one time we were playing with her Legos and were like, one of us was like…

Silver: “Hey!!! We should film this!”

Maisy: So at the end, so something happened, and then we said, “What will happen next? Find out on the…”

Unison: “…Lego Show!”

Maisy: And then Silver’s like “Maybe we should do that!” And we made up names for the characters and everything.

Silver: It’s really fun.

Maisy: We’re probably gonna put it on YouTube.

Me: Yeah, you guys have had a lot of “You Tube Ideas”…

Unison: Yeah…

Me: …but none of them have really panned out. Why do you think that is?

Silver: Well, it could be because…we haven’t had enough playdates.

Maisy: Yeah!

Me: Clever.

Silver: But we need to fit in as many playdates as we possibly can before I move.

Playing dress up at Silver's house in 2009.

Playing dress up at Silver’s house in 2009.

Me: Maisy, I have a question for you. How did you feel when you first found out that Silver was moving?

Maisy: Well, at first it just hit me, it just came straight out and I just like “uhhhhh.” So at first I had no feeling at all because I was waiting for that to process in my brain and then I felt a big wave of sadness and I was just like [makes whistling noise]. And then I started looking at the good side…

Me: And what’s the good side?

Maisy: The good side is I won’t be talking to anyone in class.

[everyone laughs]

Silver: And you get to visit us in Asheville!

Maisy: [glumly] I will. And another good side, is that it’s basically like going on vacation and going to your friend’s house AT THE SAME TIME.

Amanda, Maisy, Silver and Leslie at Greenville Montessori's Multicultural Fair in 2010.

Amanda, Maisy, Silver and Leslie at Greenville Montessori’s Multicultural Fair in 2010.

Leslie: So when you found out we were moving Asheville, the three of us were sitting together and we told you and the first thing you did was you told us you loved us and you hugged us. We were sitting on the playground at Greenville Montessori School.

Me: So how about you, Silver? ‘Cause you’re not only leaving Maisy, you’re going to start a brand new life in a new city. How did you feel?

Silver: When I found out we were moving? Well, like Maisy said, it just hit me and I was waiting for it to process and then I was like “OH THAT’S GREAT! LET’S…wait. What? We’re moving!?”

Leslie: [shakes her head, makes noises] No.

Me: Ahhhh.

Silver: You tell your version.

Leslie: Well, I told you I got the job in Asheville and you said “Awesome! You’re going to take it, right?” And I said, “Of course I am.” And then the next thing out of your mouth? “What about Maisy?”

All: Awwwwww.

Leslie: There was no pause before the second thing.

Silver, Leslie and Maisy at the Greenville Montessori Multicultural Fair 2011.

Silver, Leslie and Maisy at the Greenville Montessori Multicultural Fair 2011.

Me: How do you feel about moving now? What are the pluses?

Silver: Well, the pluses are certainly: I’m going to my first choice school, Asheville’s awesome [long pause] there are mountains, and we’ll be able to fish and hike. And then the downsides are: leaving all my friends.

Me: So I have one last question for you both: in 9 years you will both be graduating from high school, you’ll be 18. What will your friendship look like then?

Maisy: A lot of times Silver and I used to make, like, plans for when we grew up, for like, when we’re older. So we’re gonna graduate from Monetssori, then we’re gonna go to this awesome middle school, and then this awesome high school, and we’re gonna have really good grades, and we’ll try to get into the same college. Then we’re gonna graduate from college and then we’re gonna get awesome jobs and we’re gonna be best friends FOREVER.

At Jude's 2nd birthday party in 2012.

At Jude’s 2nd birthday party in 2012.

Me: Well that can still happen.

Maisy: But not in the same way. So I started thinking about that. At first I thought life would just go on as normal, without Silver being here. But then I thought “What about those plans we made!?”

Silver: Maisy, I had a feeling none of those things were gonna come true anyways.

Leslie: My pragmatic girl.

Me: She is pragmatic.

Silver: What does that mean?

Me: It means you’re realistic about things.

Silver: Thank you, that’s a great compliment!

Me: It is a compliment.

Maisy: I like to use my imagination.

Silver: So do I!

Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014

Me: Same question to Silver: what will your friendship be like in 9 years?

Silver: Well, I don’t think we’ll be as close as we are now because we won’t be able to see each other much, but I’m sure we’ll still be very good friends.

Me: How will you keep up the friendship?

Maisy: Writing! We plan to write at least once a week. The mail from Asheville to Greenville should be pretty quick.

Silver: It should take 5 days.

Zach: It may be time for you girls to get email accounts.

[squealing]

Maisy: I have a Twitter account! [n.b. it is defunct]

Silver: You do?

Maisy: In 9 years, like Silver said, we’ll still be friends. But probably not as good friends. I’ll probably have a lot of friends and Silver will just be one of those “other” friends. She will definitely not be to me what she is now.

Me: Wow, you girls are cold.

Silver! Hey!

Me: No, you’re right. It’s rational. So Leslie, any questions?

Leslie: I describe your friendship to other people as “it’s own dynamic”: it’s not just friendship but it’s not quite sistership. There’s something in between there. It’s boundaryless. I mean, neither one of you has a sister. And neither one of you had a best friend before, because you met so young. Y’all just grew up together.

Me: Do you girls agree with that?

Maisy is crying because Silver is wearing her favorite dress up in 2008.

Maisy is crying because Silver is wearing her favorite dress up in 2008.

At Jude's baby shower in 2009 (also pictured, Marame and Amanda)

At Jude’s baby shower in 2009
(also pictured, Marame and Amanda)

Gymnastics class in 2010.

Gymnastics class in 2010.

Tea Party at Silver's, circq 2011.

Tea Party at Silver’s, circq 2011.

Briley's Farm in 2011.

Briley’s Farm in 2011.

Ballet in 2011.

Ballet in 2011.

Watching HARRY POTTER for the first time, 2012.

Watching HARRY POTTER for the first time, 2012.

School Choral Concert in 2012 (Also pictured, Mikayla and Allie)

School Choral Concert in 2012
(Also pictured, Makayla and Allie)

Chinese New Year Celebration, 2014.

Chinese New Year Celebration, 2014.

Kentucky Derby Party (pre), 2014.

Silver, Maisy and Jude preparing for the Kentucky Derby Party, 2014.

Kentucky Derby Party, spring 2014,

Kentucky Derby Party, spring 2014,

Maisy's 8th birthday, 2014.

Maisy’s 8th birthday, 2014.

maisysilverdance2014

School Dance, Fall 2014.

Amanda and Zach's 10.10 Anniversary Party in 2015.

Amanda and Zach’s 10.10 Anniversary Party in 2015.

Neuse River, May 2015.

Neuse River, May 2015.

Silver: Yeah! [pause] It’s gonna be hard adjusting.

Me: Okay then, really quickly, Silver: who does Maisy have a crush on?

Silver: Um, why would I know that?

Maisy: She’s a loyal friend!

Me: Maisy, who does Silver have a crush on?

Maisy: I don’t know. Seriously. [n.b: They both know]

Maisy and Silver edit their interview.

Maisy and Silver edit their interview before it goes live.

Have an excellent summer and we’ll be back with all new true stories starting September 2nd, 2015. If you’d like to submit to Tell Us A Story, check out this link.

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Three Poems

by Priscilla Atkins

“The Captivating Life of My Ten-Years-Older First-Boyfriend’s Ex-Wife”

The author, photographed by the ex-boyfriend.

The author, photographed by the ex-boyfriend.

I am nineteen and want to be the one who snapped
the little 3×3’s of “our” newly-wed life in Ramstein,
Germany. The husband is enlisted and she’s a six-month

business school grad. (There’s a lot to be said for a
smart typist.) I want to have slept with him in the cute
honeymoon suite in Switzerland: “Our tiny bed.”

I want to be inside her script. A picnic table set for four:
“Steaks on the grill—our first entertaining!” I want
all of it. Especially the long dark hair and spray

of pale yellow flowers pinned above the ear. Even the angry
good-by note (that I “stumbled on” while he was off
at his bartending job): “You and your god DAM nude

beaches. Your drinking . . . always sneaking away
on your motorcycle. I wanted a husband and children
who love me. Not a man who’s never home.” I’m nineteen

and wish the rolled up parchment, the tube from the Vatican,
was addressed to me; to be on the verge of a brand-new, Pope-
approved life with the police officer who lives downstairs

(to have typed his academy papers). I want dark hair, and pale
orchids. To be Catholic. To be worshipped. To be the face
on a 3×3 tucked in someone’s wallet long after I’m gone.

“Is This What You Want?”

The brave, long-haired sister.

The brave, long-haired sister.

My brave, long-haired sister misplaced the hidden house
key—out in the dangerous world, or under a pile in her room—

gone. No one notices until late one night, I am dropped off from babysitting
and discover after the car is gone, I have no way in.

When our parents return from whichever party of scientists and their spouses
and, soon after, my sister, my father loses

it; bawls her out, dark-knifed swipes of furious. He’s scary and bald. Right there
on the living room carpet, she gets down on her knees, facing

him, voice shaking,
“Here, is this what you want?” (Me,

I want—always—to disappear.) The house prickles. Chaos surging underneath
dense cotton.

After that, given my own personal key that I keep in a soft round purse,
two figures embroidered on the face, some nights I creep out of bed,

tiptoe to the closet, riffle all of the pockets
until my small hand comes up against the zipper’s rough blue pulse.

The author and her sister.

The author and her sister.

“Imaginary Marylands”

Bent, watery. I passed through your harrowed hollow
with my first-ever boyfriend
on a twenty-four-hour Miami-to-Massachusetts “forced march”
in his big-deal Buick.
The butt-head liked non-stop, liked to prove he’s every-inch-
the-man his alcoholic father was.
Leaving Florida at noon, eventually
rolling into the ash-can gloom of the shroudiest edge
of pre-dawn Eastern Pennsylvania
(we’re-supposed-to-be-in-Jersey—can’t-you-read-a-goddamn-map?);
I still know the sour-sorry taste of ghostly searchlights,
cars driven by blank, commuter-ghosts. From coal mines
to cubicles, we’re all robotic goats. Swallow anything. Cubed
days passing through us in a thousand ways.
I had never gone so long without sleep.
Swore I would never stray so far from center,
a life of 10-to-7 in-bed-quiet forever. But there I was, and here, I am,
thirty years hence, reading Celan’s biography. See how it’s done:
you walk straight out of innocence and don’t realize
the fractured universe includes you;
glass shatter, grinding, bearing up. Stop
and turn quickly so reflections don’t catch.
Then back on board, everyone’s midnight-blinded, together, hoofing it to France.

About the author

Raised surrounded by cornfields, Priscilla Atkins gravitated to Los Angeles, and then Hawaii. Eventually, she leapt back to the Midwest – Indiana, and now Michigan. Her poems have appeared in ShenandoahThe Los Angeles ReviewPoetry London and other journals and anthologies. She teaches women’s and gender studies and a first-year-seminar on comedy at a small college in Michigan.