Southeast elementary. South middle school. High school.
There’s four elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school.
A northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, a north and a south, and one city.
I met him in Grade 1.
I remember all of the controversy about how to say his last name and all of the girls having those Elementary School Crushes on him. I barely talked to him in Grade 1, I only remember two encounters we had that year:
On the side of the classroom, atop a counter stood a red plastic basket full of books. I was much too short to reach it, but tried anyways. The basket tilted, and the books began their journey to the floor, sliding out, threatening to hit my face. He came over to help me, and propped the basket back upright. I thanked him, that was all.
One morning, the school bus didn’t come. My mom waited with me, his grandma waited with him. My mom tells me that his grandma talked to her as we waited, “He went to get a haircut, and the lady doing his hair cut it a little too short. He is not very impressed.” We ended up driving him to school that morning. I remember trying to create conversation to cut the nervous atmosphere of two elementary acquaintances sitting in the same car. We walked to the Grade 1 doors, talking, the atmosphere less awkward now. Once reaching the doors, we dropped our backpacks in the line-up and he told me, “Sorry, I have to go find my friends.” and then ran off to find them, as I walked towards mine.
I don’t remember the next time we spoke.
Grades 2, 3, 4, we unknowingly coexisted, nearly speaking but never quite. I saw him in the hallways, as he saw me, and his classroom was always just a few doors down, if not, right beside mine.
Elementary school came and went, and middle school began.
Grade 5 and 6 our classrooms were close, next door even. At breaks we saw each other in the hallways, but I can’t ever remember speaking with him. Grade 7 he was in the partner class to mine. We passed each other, switching in and out of each classroom each day, as they progressed.
We continued to coexist and maintain knowledge of the other’s existence without ever directly interacting. Almost speaking, but fate preventing our lives from overlapping too soon I suppose.
Grade 8 we were in the same class. I didn’t really notice him at first, it’d been a while – just as I’m sure he didn’t notice me. I was more excited about my friends being in my class anyways, as I am sure he was. Our class consisted of small groups, but it also had a feeling of unity, as though we were really just one big family.
As the year progressed, and him and I acknowledged each other’s existence more frequently, we began to talk. I can’t remember when or how, but his friends and my friends molded together and became quite close. After ups and downs, and times when questioning the so-called friendship that existed had passed, by the end of the year, we all considered ourselves close friends.
It was a good year, Grade 8. Within our group, we had made friendships that we knew would continue into High School, and these friendships were with people that we knew we could count on. My friend and this guy even had the most infamous relationship known to the eighth grade.
And as I realized that I had grown up with and known him since Grade 1, it was strange to think that the last time we had talked to each other was the first year of elementary school, and the next time we truly began to get to know each other was the last year of middle school.
The next year, our group remained just as tight as we had been. He was on my bus. Despite having none to one class with the odd person in our group, we were always together at lunch, keeping up to date on each other’s lives and the school’s. As the year progressed, we realized that as our friends applied for other schools, that our group wouldn’t remain the same forever.
The said infamous relationship and the friendships within our group strengthened and were cherished as the realization set in that next year, the only people left would be me, him, and his best friend. What we clung to, I think, was the ignorance. I think we pretended that everything would go on as it were forever. For a while the thought of our best friends leaving was a distant possibility in the future. But as the end of the year neared, it became a haunting reality.
At the end of the year, some of us hugged and said goodbye through tears, while others said an indifferent goodbye, trying to ignore the fact that we wouldn’t be the same friends as we once were for the rest of high school. We said goodbye as though we would see each other again next year, everything unchanged.
But now it’s just me, him, and his best friend.
All on the same bus, all still friends.
Now the group that once sat in a large oval in the hallway at lunchtime, can sit in a booth in the cafeteria with lots of room to spare. And no matter how annoyed we might become with each other, we’ll always have each other.
Over the summer, my mom told me about these weird coincidences.
When she was a child, she went to the same church as his mom. His grandpa was the pastor. His grandpa had almost married my parents. How some of the decorations in our house came from his grandma’s garage sale.
It’s strange to think that even before the individual paths of our lives overlapped, our lives had been destined to overlap.
And maybe he thinks that I am annoying. Maybe he thinks I am a terrible friend. Maybe he thinks I have no life. Maybe he does. Maybe he really doesn’t want hang out with me at lunch after all.
But he still shows me his favourite movie, and introduces me to his church friends. He still accepts me as I am and offers to be my wingman. He’s still there for me when I need him the most, with opinions and advice about the stupidest of things. And I know I can trust him, just as I hope he knows that he can trust me. And he is still my friend just as I am his. And I’m glad.
Now it’s us applying to a new school, and continuing our journey together. And it’s us driving around in his car, and ditching the bus to ride to school. And it’s us who start and finish, enter and graduate school together.
As time passes, lives overlap and paths cross, and the coincidences and true intentions of life reveal themselves. Fate has terribly intricate yet meaningful tendencies.
It’s strange to think that I have known him since Grade 1, and he has known me. It’s strange to think that we’ve watched each other grow up, whether realizing it or not. And it’s strange to think about the way our friendship came about. But everything that happened, one could argue, happened for a reason. And the reason for our friendship was all a result of a multitude of events that had occurred, just as they intended to.
Fate and destiny have a way of intertwining themselves in one’s life. Once you realize that they have, in fact, impacted your life, coincidences you hadn’t realized existed begin to pop up, and over time you realize that fate and destiny have an incredible capability to allow the cliche “Everything happens for a reason” to be proven true.
In Grade 1, he was supposedly my “character role model”.
He knows it too.
We joke about it and laugh, just as we do about countless other things.
It’s almost Grade 11 now, and we are still friends. Good friends I like to think.
I met him in Grade 1.