When a Friend Isn’t Really Far Away

Matthew - grover beach, California
Entered on May 4, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

It was 1995, I was nine years old and recently began the fourth grade in a small town outside Ames, Iowa.  A new student, Albert, joined our school.  In this small Midwest school Albert found himself to be the only Korean student at school.  One day, some boys on the bus began teasing him; my mother would have none of this from me.

Albert lived only a couple of blocks away, and after some nudging from my parents I gave him a call and we setup what most parents would call a play date.  We found our closets were filled with the same Star Wars action figures and more Legos than any nine-year-old really needs.  We also found either of us could waste away entire days playing The Legend of Zelda.

Almost every day we treated the neighbors to us running over everyone’s lawn trying to see who could hit the other with more foam Nerf darts. We held countless sleepovers where we built Lego creations, watched episodes of Transformers I managed to VCR, and teamed up on my little brothers as we all four squatted around the TV playing Goldeneye on our new N64.

During the eighth grade my mom was ready to throw a wrench in our happiness.  She remarried and packed us all up to move to California with her new husband.  I knew I would still be back occasionally to visit since my dad still lived in Ames.

Keeping in contact was not.  At first we talked over the phone close to every day.  Face time became harder to find as my trips to see my father often coincided with Albert’s family trips to Korea.  Further, our common interested started to fade.  Music and athletics interested Albert; I developed interests in theater and debate. 

I felt our friendship may soon become not much more than the occasional phone call or Facebook message.  In the summer of 2007 we had a lucky break.  I phoned Albert when I arrived in Ames. Albert just moved into a new apartment in Iowa City, and was having trouble getting moved in.  I made a stop by his parents to load up my dad’s pickup with various items and drove the two hours to Iowa City.

I planned to stay for a couple days at his apartment and had not seen Albert for about two years. I first thought the visit would be awkward; I was wrong.  Although we didn’t have the pastimes we used to share, we didn’t need them. 

I found our friendship still holds up through all of the separation.  We are friends not because of common interests or goals.  Simple enjoyment of each other’s company and trust is what really bonds us.  I reaffirmed that I have someone I can always look to for help and companionship. I believe this friendship is something to hold dear and is now a source of great strength for both of us.