Monday, January 23, 1995


Many kids never experience true friendship. They only have groups of people with whom they do stuff, and these groups pass in and out of their lives as they change grades, interests or even shoe sizes.

I, on the other hand, had Tracy Perry. In second grade we were "best friends". He was not in the recess sports or girl chasing crowd and he puked every once in a while, but boy did he have an imagination. Both him and his brother were incredible artists. They both sketched and drew all the time, and if you went over to their house to play espionage or old-west you would see how they had drawn cartoons all over the walls of their room.

Now I was no artist, but Tracy and I both loved to play make-up. We would sit for hours and write long stories with fat pencils on big grey paper with big lines so far apart that there was a third dotted line in the middle; and after we wrote our crazy stories about three-eyed, five-legged monsters who spent their afternoons rolling around chasing people in a continuous sort of cart-wheel, we would read them aloud and act them out. Kids would gather around a little corner of grass near the play-house to watch our little productions. Tracy and I were living in a world of complete imagination.

For almost three years Tracy and I were best friends. One of my best memories was when Tracy and another kid were playing on the blocks, and I asked if I could play too. The other kid said no, that they were playing and I couldn’t join them, and why didn't I just leave? I was crushed, but Tracy stood right up, looked the kid right in the face and said, "That’s not very nice, maybe you’re the one who should leave." Then he smiled at me, re-building my self-confidence in an instant and saving me thousands of dollars in therapy bills at some later time in my life. And off we ran to go play on the swings.

One day things changed though. I realize now that it was I who changed. Slowly I began playing soccer and girl-chase at recess instead of make-believe. It is not that I was trying to be cool or anything, I just liked playing soccer now and then and there was something, that I didn’t fully understand at the time (as if I fully do now) about girls in knee-high socks and pig-tails that made me want to chase them. how Tracy's face would drop when I would tell him I wasn’t going to play make-believe at recess. By seventh grade, the separation was complete. And though we were only divided by one or two lunch tables, in junior high school that equated to being worlds apart.