|hey, we made it to this day!|
When we were nine, we collected zip-line choreography into a handbook, co-authored with Nova. With that we reached our athletic zenith. You passed me notes written on paper towels that certified my membership in the Martini Club. I didn't know what martinis were, but you seemed worldly and wise because you had a older sister. She began to teach me violin. After lessons, I would take home maple-leaf-shaped cream cheese cookies. Sometimes, I would tag along with your family to San Francisco to hear her play, and in the car we watched The Prince of Egypt and Indian in the Cupboard. Once, a con-man took your dad's tickets.
When we were ten, I think we both liked the same boy. His calves looked like twigs and his eyelashes were long and he liked you in kindergarten, which made me jealous, I think. With my little brother, we watched The Incredibles in theaters and in your room re-enacted our favorite scenes. You whipped out the sparring stick and some scarves and we performed The Arabian Cat, with the lights off for dramatic effect. Whenever I tried to hold Donna, you would correct my hand position for fear I upset her stomach. We still went to San Francisco from time to time, and on the way home, we jim-jammed to Wine Red and other Hush Sound (Shh Noise) tunes. This was our "tomboy" phase (T-shirts and short hair, riding a boy bike).
When we were eleven, we were both in Mr. Lyon's class (yes, the class that was punished for putting too much emphasis on "sss," which is kind of weird, looking back). At this time Jennifer Ho planted Tutti-Frutti jelly beans in the tanbark to see if they'd become a splotchy, pukey-colored tree. Thus began the Age of the Apothecaries: we mashed up honeysuckle and stuck banana slices on tree branches to dry. I think your bunny passed away at this time, and you were heartbroken for a week. Tomboyish mannerisms evaporated; you were wearing your sister's old AE knits. Also, you were one head taller than me. For Halloween I aimed for Dementor but looked more like a hooded chimney sweep, chim chim chiroo. At Jonathan's house before Kumon we "killed the innocent person." Those golden animal crackers came in packets of pink, blue, and green.
When we were twelve, we fought quite often. Like Romeo to your Julianne, I wooed you with irritating Calvin and Hobbes-themed cards, passed across the hall, until you became my friend again (but not really). So I turned to Tiffany Rudachevsky, and you to cool buddies like Nadia and Elise Mun (who put Jason Tatman's hat in the bathroom) and other Cohnites. We wrote Ashley troubling letters which were discovered. Now braces adorned your bunny teeth; they changed color, but mostly were your favorite purple. Despite the tough times, we formed a band and declared Jonathan the manager. For inspiration, we watched "Sexy Back" at his desktop computer. That summer Ashley Lowe moved to Thousand Oaks, so we went to Tartini with her, and had a sleepover that was ruin of all future sleepovers: you got sick and mal-performed at Bin Tang Badminton Camp.
When we were thirteen, we were thoroughly teen. Token Juicy jackets: hot pink for me, demure black velvet with gold zippers for you. Trips to Valley Fair gave us meaning. Every day was so very chock-full of classes, silly ones that featured Cardio Days and team handball. P.E. shorts became my uniform, but you were always careful to maintain appearances. We made French videos and looked forward to monthly Fleur de Cocoa; Hera regaled us with movie plot synopses. Chinese school occupied Friday nights; ski trips occupied winter breaks. Once, in a buffet, we saw Kevjumba. Once, you licked Alvin's cheek, and I received Derek's peck. Once, you liked Austin Du HAHAHA
|Your fourteenth birthday at Elephant Bar. |
Only for you, gerbil, do I expose my
When we were fourteen, we were good girls, becoming serious now. Serious about reading, about church, about puppeteering people. A capricious lunch group consisting of Maggie, Karen, Rachel, Sarah, Casey, Annanya, Stephanie, and Monica was at once frightening and comforting; members were ousted from time to time. You, Casey, and I climbed Montalvo (not, we stayed at the base) and found that magical resonant spot. There was a group on facebook called "Julianne's Sighing is Relaxing" and how right they were; it still is! For your birthday, you had a sleepover (woah!); we went to Kitsch Couture and ate lemon bars and took home mugs for goodie bags. That was the first time I seriously considered the width of my thighs, because of those lemon bars. At graduation, nian gao was happy; you had a beautiful tapestry-like dress with yellow edges, and got honor roll. 'Twas the year of the slender saluki. Also, of the DC-trip: truly formative life experience (physically formative, that is: leaf in palm).
When we were fifteen, time began to run. At homecoming we wrapped green mesh around our heads and safety-pinned our black T-shirts with golden safety pins, per your suggestion; you'd read it in InStyle. After watching people freak I went home and wrote a ferocious letter; you were a chill cat. Those ski trips still existed; I fell in like with Logan and followed him home every day. Yuning--that senior girl with the pierced-ear boyfriend--called us annoying, but we giggled on. You liked the Kings of Leon song "Your Sex is On Fire," which sounded like "your socks are on fire" to me. I became a choir weird-o and TA'd orchestra, dancing in the practice rooms to arrangements of The Barber of Seville. That vegetable Jeffrey entered your life at this time, and suddenly you had a sweet-heart, and became perpetually pigeon-toed. He came to youth group, where we discussed dating.
When we were sixteen, we no longer had Chinese together (no more 奶黄包). But we went to Sausalito and marveled at paperclips bent into rabbit shapes; two happy mothers, two happy daughters. Blue waters and sunset; Joshua Bell was delicious to hear and see. You ate Penne Primavera, pronounced correctly. We lifted weights in P.E. with Kristie/Gloria/Rachel, and one day, a rogue Catherine Liu bounced into the mango-body-sprayed locker room. You went to Winter Ball with Burrito (Calvin Academy standard terminology), and to Sadie's with someone else, that good buddy (Vivian and I used bumpy paint to make you T-shirts). That spring, we began trekking through Narnia to the farmer's market; that summer, our moms began Zumbing. You ventured to Valencia and New Haven; I held on to you from home.
When we were seventeen, we sought to secure tomorrow. I put my head down and practiced piano, and seldom saw you outside of school; those hours of APUSH spent passing baby carrots back and forth and monitoring Rohan's head-droopiness were so precious to me. Mornings in Chinese with Kristie and Sabrina: I'd crane my neck and check your teeth for you whenever you asked. We escaped in October to a Croatian concert, one to remember forever. Fomenters of Switzerlandish revolution were we, and hoarders of ex-boyfriend house-elves (not to mention stalkers of the UV-deprived). I began to drive; once, I dared to sneak you to TJ's. Thanks to you, Samuel came along and plucked my holly leaves and wove a wreath (thank you, again, for him). You faded a little bit from my sight, but I loved you all along.
My eighteen is very different from yours, for yours begins today. Mine included all the sad milestones: college-grubbing, graduation, Spain, farewells. Your eighteen arrives on the brink of the unknown. We're older, still young; a bit battered about the heart, but still whole. It's been over a decade with you, now. A decade of the dearest best friendship, of so many "seasons of love" impossible to measure but in laughs, cups of water, hugs, paper bags, words. On your last night in Saratoga, you didn't hear my operatic weeping in the car as I drove home; my brother had to take the wheel. For your departure ushered in a very different season of love, one marked by distance and divergence; but there is hope in that all seasons come and go. Thank you, Julianne Wey, for every day that was and is to come.
I always remember your birthday because I was baptized on this day in seventh grade--another kind of birth. It's a precious tie that I have to you, one that ensures our friendship forever. God bless you in your eighteenth year.