Updated: Jan 9
As a child I used to spend a lot of time with extended family, and I loved it. I always thought it was cool to have such a big family, and seeing different members about a couple times a week were often the highlights of my week.
When I visited one particular family member, I noticed next door there was a girl about my age playing in the yard. I remember the first few times we saw each other, we would not say a word to each other. We would just watch each other play in our respective yards.
I cannot remember for certain who finally spoke first, but I am inclined to believe it was me. My mother always said I was a very social kid, even at times when I should not be. I recall us exchanging our names, and speaking through the fence that divided our yards.
It was a hard-black fence that had blotches of space in between parts of it, which was common for the houses on the block. And what I now find interesting is that it was a fence our families shared. So, every so often, we would bring out different gadgets to show each other and try to play with each other through the fence. And we did this a lot.
The particular family member I was visiting was curious to know why I always wanted to go in the yard by myself, and eventually the family member realized I made a friend. I never thought of her as a friend until that particular family member would ask me, “are you going to see your friend?” And every time I said, “yes”. She was my friend, and I was hers.
And like friends sometimes, we had disagreements. But every time we saw each other the following time, it was as if nothing bad ever happened prior. I like to think it was because she lived there, and I did not. I was not there every day, but I would hope to be there at least once a week. As a kid you are not entitled to your time and schedule, so we never really knew exactly when we would see each other, only that would happen again.
That notion is such an innocent and precious one that I wish I still adhered to. I occasionally wonder if I would ever see certain people again, because everyone is living their lives so differently that sometimes our lives can spin-off in different directions.
Well, as she and I continued to grow up, we would see each other less and less. And instead of playing with each other through the fence, we would just wave.
It is crazy to see how you can go from interacting like your best friends, to waving like neighborly acquaintances.
Sometimes I would catch her walking home, as I was walking nearby for whatever reason, and try to catch up to her. But I never knew what to say to her. Every interaction was so limited, yet I never wanted the interactions to stop. In my mind at the time, I felt I knew her, and that she knew me.
At some point my family member decided to move out of that house. I remember being sad about that for many reasons, one of them being the girl I felt I needed to see every time I visited.
I know we saw each other a few times after this moment, but this is the moment I remember so vividly. She was walking into her yard (getting ready to enter her house), as I was getting ready to leave the yard (from exiting my family member’s house), and I spoke to her.
I told her that my family member was moving away, and that she may not really see me again, unless I walk this way on my own. And the smile she quickly had when I began to speak, vanished into a frown with teary eyes. At first, she did not believe me and felt I was messing with her, but eventually I convinced her I was telling the truth.
This entire time I did not even notice, but we were speaking closely to each other by the fence, something we had not done for years.
After a bit, she said she needed to go inside because her dad was expecting her. And I told her that I would miss her. She then grabbed my shirt through the fence and kissed me. She smiled for a second and then ran into her house. I was there frozen for a second, in what I remember as bliss. I then smiled too, and exited the yard.
I have learned it is amazing to know how people can have mutual intimate feelings for each other, but can also never express them. And, that it does not take too much to make a connection with someone.
As I slowly walked away from the house, I realized I would never forget The Girl Who Was Behind The Fence.