I'm not gonna say, "We used to be so close." That wouldn't be true. "Close" isn't the right word to describe it. I'm not sure how close you can get seeing each other as infrequently as we always did, and not talking at all in between. But I will say that I miss you. I miss us. I miss the way we used to be. And I don't know where you went.
You never used to talk. I didn't like to talk to other kids either, but you were even quieter than I was. If we asked you a direct question, you'd look at us and smile and then look away and not answer. Sometimes you'd get hurt - physically or emotionally - and you'd cry. You'd cry for a long time. Sometimes for 20 minutes at a time. Over things that wouldn't have made me cry. We'd try to comfort you, but nothing helped. We kept asking what was wrong, but you wouldn't answer.
You used to fight all the time - yelling and hitting and throwing toys and books. You'd scream every time your mom tried to brush your hair. I thought I was the only one who still did that sort of thing. There was constant screaming and crying in your house over food you didn't want to eat and piano-practicing you didn't want to do and toys you didn't want to pick up off the floor. I thought I was the loudest screamer on earth until I set foot into your home.
You cried because we were going swimming. Because you had to carry two noodles to the pool. Because the balloon was the wrong color. Because we weren't allowed to use chalk in the basement. Because you had a 15-minute car ride where you didn't get the seat you wanted. Because someone was washing the sand off the beachball when you wanted to hold it. Because we did eenie-meenie-minie-mo to decide who would go first and you didn't win. Because someone told you not to stick your hands straight into a dessert that was for everyone to share. I thought I was the one who had to get my own way all the time, but that barely registered when you were around.
One time we had planned a special surprise when someone told us that the plans had changed and offered an alternative. I wanted to cry. I was trying so, so hard to hold back the tears because I didn't know you all as well and I didn't want to cry in front of you and I got the sense that I wasn't supposed to be so upset. Then you started crying. And I knew that what I felt was real, that I wasn't alone. I was so grateful to you for expressing yourself when I couldn't.
One time we were playing with a dollhouse. I always liked to play that the kids took over everything and pushed the parents out the window or off the roof. But I never thought through the consequences of that. I never had the parents be killed or injured. It was more of a prank, like "Ha, ha, we pushed you off the roof!" But it was no prank with you. When I went to pick up the mom, you told me that no, the mom couldn't say anything because she was dead. Because that's what happens when you get pushed off the roof. I had the daughter dancing on the table, climbing up the poles, and swinging on the chandelier. You had the daughter bring in a bomb and blow up the dollhouse so that everyone died and she could do whatever she wanted forever. I never met anyone who played rougher than me. You scared me a bit. You were my partner in crime.
And yes, this was a long time ago, but not as long ago as you think. You probably estimate it was 25 years ago. But it was only 18 years ago. And yes, that's long. But there's a difference. 25 years ago would make it "normal." It would make it just regular kid stuff. But 18 years ago makes it how we were. It makes it us.
And I know we weren't close in the relationship sense, but we were close in terms of being like each other. We were close in the sense that I was never the most difficult kid to deal with when you were around.
I just want to know where you went. I look at you now and you're so perfect. You'd never know where we came from. You'd never know that we used to be so alike. When we look through the photos, you say it was all perfect. But I look at those photos and I still see your tears. I still hear you screaming. You grew up to be perfect. The past looks perfect to you. And maybe you don't remember. Or maybe you laugh about it now.
But I wish you'd come back. I wish you hadn't grown up without me. I miss that little girl who knocked the parents off the dollhouse roof.
Where did you go?