Your Smile On Fire

...from the song Xavia

the story of ash

Today was one of those good days that is just good. And I have too much in my head to write it all down, too many possibilities for posts. So instead of boring you with the details of my day (meeting, lunch, work), I’ve decided I’m just going to start my series of posts about my closest friends.


And I’ll start with the post about Ash, because, if for no other reason, she’s the one I’ve known the longest.


Ash was a doctor’s daughter. It just happened that back in Arizona a lot of my friends had parents who were doctors. At one point there was pretty much a group of us, a bunch of doctors’ kids, and me, the pilot’s daughter. Our parents all knew each other, which I was always confunkled by, asking my dad how in the world he knew all the doctors.


But anyway.


Me and Ash had gone to school together forever. In first grade I didn’t even really know her name and we weren’t friends but it was her group (the very same group, more or less, that I became a part of during sixth grade), and her in particular, that always asked me to play Hot Lava Monster with them. Now, I used to assume that Hot Lava Monster was just one of those playground games that ALL KIDS know, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe it was just a local game. Whatever, it’s a complicated game of tag. And she was always asking me to play with them and I was always saying no, shaking my head, being embarrassed of how tired I got when I ran. How I couldn’t run.


Second grade went by. Third, fourth, fifth grades went by. And then we were in sixth grade, the both of us plus part of her “group” in Mr. A’s class. I sat at the same cluster of desks as them and I remember choosing them when I didn’t know anyone in the class, because they looked like nice, unassuming, friendly girls.


What happened next was this: I became part of the group. The four of us ate lunch together, joked together, did the yearbook page together. Sometimes their other friends would join us. And slowly it happened. I went from being that girl that they included because she sat next to them, to just one of the gang. This time period is also surrounded by other things that happened, things like my heart surgery and my dad going to work for one of Ash’s other friends that I didn’t know. I don’t know what those two things had to do with the first thing, but somehow they all seemed intertwined together.


Seventh grade…


eighth grade…


ninth grade…


and all this time me and Ash are becoming better friends. We never hang out outside of school; we never call on the phone and we rarely email, but we are undisputedly the quietest of the group. Our sense of humor seems slightly different from theirs and we often share quiet jokes that the rest of them don’t get. We are in few of the same classes but we often meet between classes, and always at lunch. She is sweet and kind and always seems to notice me more than our other friends do. When we stand in a circle, she’s the one making sure I’m not on the outside, she’s the one cluing me in on the conversation when I’m out of the loop. I can tell by looking at her what sort of mood she’s in and on days when she seems sad and less jokey than the others, than she normally is, I just smile at her and try to be there for her the way a friend is. I ask how she’s doing, ask if anything’s wrong, and when she says no and I don’t entirely believe her, I just let it go. Because I think people should be allowed to be sad if they feel sad. There are times when I am like this too, days before the move (or at least before I was allowed to tell anyone about it) when I don’t feel like talking to anyone, ever, when I just want to be alone. On those days she is the only one I talk to and she never pushes, is always there, and always her quiet smile seeming to assure me that I’ve got a friend.


Don’t mistake me: we weren’t best friends, we weren’t even outside-of-school friends. We didn’t talk about everything, we didn’t talk a lot at all. But she was always there and there was never any doubt that she cared.


After the move I lose touch. I lose touch with other friends. Michael, Lee, Hannah, Taylor H., Kristen, Kelly, Lacey, even Kelsey whose class I was in all through elementary school I barely talk to. There are months were me and Ash don’t talk too, but then things change. I ask how people are doing and she tells me. We share the stories that happen in our lives. I tell her how lonely I am, how I have no friends, and she doesn’t blame me as others have, or say that it’s because I’m too quiet; she knows I’m quiet because she’s the same. We talk about boys and I tell her about the guy I like. Later I tell her when it falls through and she is there. She tells me about the guy she likes, a guy I knew, and I am happy for her. We talk about religion and spirituality with a mutual respect although our beliefs are quite different. I ask questions about her beliefs and she asks about mine and we never argue points.


One day I go out alone, shopping (for books, obviously) and then to eat. It’s fun, but I get home a little bit melancholy, wishing I didn’t spend so many days alone. But I’d left my computer on while I was out and when I get home there’s a message from Ash.


hey i know you’re ‘away’ but i just wanted to say hi! i haven’t talked to you in a while hope you’re doing well!


And after all this time the big thing about Ash is still that she’s always on my same team.


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Oct. 15 [going to work soon] [two school essays due; majorly nervous about both] [remember when i wrote that short story where the girl said "majorly" every other WORD practically? ha]