Ava Marie LaMonica
How My Childhood Best Friend Came Back Into My Life
To the best friend I was never meant to lose.
Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash
Throughout my childhood years, friendship was always something I lacked. I was introverted, my social anxiety was practically crippling, and I was rather…well…quirky to say the least.
From Kindergarten to third grade I attended the elementary school in my district which I despised with a passion.
School was a literal prison for children in my mind.
A huge, overcrowded building, teachers who behave like literal drill sergeants, ear piercingly loud cafeteria, food that makes you want to vomit from merely looking at it, and being expected to behave like an adult but treated like a child.
At the end of third grade, after a year of endless crying and complaining, my parents knew that it was time to get me out of there.
So, we toured a local Montessori school.
There are about 20,000 Montessori schools around the United States, and all use the learning style created by Maria Montessori — an Italian physician and teacher who believed in a hands-on and self-paced approach to teaching.
Before we toured Montessori, my mother did immense research on the Montessori teaching method, and we even watched the Italian Maria Montessori film.
I was so thrilled when my mother informed me that the Montessori method of teaching would not give homework like normal schools but instead give you basic living assignments such as shopping for groceries and paying the cashier.
I was awestruck the day we went to tour Montessori. We drove down a little dirt path in the middle of the woods which led to a beautiful, white, Victorian mansion, surrounded by shady trees.
It felt like a fairytale.
Especially in comparison to my current giant, institution-like public school. The school was an old and charming building with a huge back porch that gazed over a recess area near the woods.
The principal gave us the tour and introduced us to all the staff and teachers who were so warm and welcoming to me.
There were less than one hundred students at Montessori and most of the classes were condensed. First and second grade were together, third, fourth, and fifth grade were together, and the entire middle school was together. The only class that wasn’t condensed was Kindergarten.
After the tour, there was no doubt in my mind that Montessori was the school I wanted to attend in the fall. The only slight disappointment was that this Montessori school did in fact give homework (quite a lot if I’m honest) but that was certainly something I could deal with.
Meeting My Childhood Best Friend
Do you know that special feeling you get on the morning of your first day of school?
Six o’clock AM when the sun is just beginning to rise, and the streets are quiet and tranquil?
When the summer is starting to fade and a slight autumn breeze lingers in the air as your parents snap photos of you outside? The immense apprehension and excitement that brews inside of you the moment you’re awakened after a long night of little sleep?
Well, I’ve had many of those first days…but my first day at Montessori was something special.
When we arrived at the school in the middle of the woods, all the cars lined up in a circle next to the back porch of the school where a teacher would open the car door for each student.
I remember how awestruck my mother was by how much they catered to the students.
Although I was nervous and barely spoke, everyone made me feel so welcomed.
I remember wearing a royal blue, quarter-sleeve, bejeweled top with a pink plaid skirt and white knee-high socks on my first day.
Later, a girl around the same age as I entered the classroom. She was just about the same height, almost the exact same color hair, and was wearing a very similar outfit.
We immediately gravitated towards each other and seemed to instantly click. Almost as if we’ve known each other before, in another life perhaps.
Her name was Savannah and she would go on to become my best friend to this very day.
Becoming Best Friends
At the time, Savannah and I were drastically different personality-wise.
She was hyper, bold, and talkative, while I was generally mute and scared of my own shadow.
But, despite our polar opposite personalities, we were alike in so many other ways.
To start, we were both raised as only children with a sibling who is much older and moved out of the house.
The few friends I did make in the past were flaky, barely available, and often didn’t value friendships as deeply as I did because they had a sibling to come home to.
Growing up without a sibling in the house made Savannah and I care about friendships immensely and we never flaked on a hangout or should I say “playdate” at the time.
The two of us also had extremely wild imaginations, like coming up with outrageous ploys to lock the teachers we didn’t like in the basement, suspecting certain people were witches if they wore gloves (Roald Dhal fans will understand), and telling others that she was a corpse and I was a zombie (yes, I know, we were the farthest thing from normal).
We became obsessed and hyper-focused on things like trying to become famous on Club Penguin, leading us to create our own blog and YouTube channel, re-watching Sweeney Todd and Phantom of the Opera over and over, dressing up as Lady Gaga for Halloween, and being terrified of books we shared that talked about becoming a teenager (and praying it would never happen to us).
We also had almost the exact same sense of humor and were constantly giggling at anything and everything.
We could just look at each other and immediately know what the other was thinking about.
We had sleepovers, birthday celebrations, amusement park trips, family barbeques, you name it.
At the end of fourth grade, I introduced Savannah to the thing we had most in common…writing.
At the time, I was writing a series called The Bindy Series. Inspired by Junie B. Jones, the series was about a girl the same age as me and the crazy chronicles of her childhood.
This inspired Savannah to begin writing a series called The Eliza Series.
The two of us wrote during any possible chance we had.
We filled folders, binders, and notebooks with pages and pages of our stories, and shared them with each other during lunchtime.
We even began writing novels and other types of stories together.
Savannah also taught me how to draw better, though I couldn’t quite get on her level.
While we were both little fashion queens in fourth grade (thanks to the help of our fashionista mothers), fifth grade became the year of our gawky phase.
Savannah started going through a tomboy/Leslie from Bridge to Terabithia phase. She cut her waist-length hair into a bob with wispy bangs and wore t-shirts and arm socks.
At the same time, I got braces for my insanely crooked teeth and insisted on only wearing baggy or comfortable clothing, like sweats and leggings. I also wore arm socks, crocs, and eventually cut my super long hair (which I regret to this day).
While I envisioned us graduating middle school together, I later found out that Montessori was closing.
The beautiful mansion in the heart of the woods was completely torn down a year after receiving this shocking and heartbreaking news.
For middle school, Savannah and I were to go our separate ways, but we were still as close as can be.
Now, from hearing all this you’d probably think the friendship between Savannah and I was rainbows and butterflies…but we had many ups and downs.
This was mainly due to our vastly different personalities at the time as well as our own personal and mental struggles.
In sixth grade, soon after the start of middle school, our friendship turned into a devastating falling out.
While this might’ve been the right choice for us at the time and while middle school brought new friends and new experiences, deep down I missed her terribly.
After a year or so, we agreed to remain acquaintances and occasionally messaged each other on the internet, but we wouldn’t cross paths again for two whole years.
The Day We Crossed Paths Once Again
It wasn’t until eighth grade that Savannah and I would cross paths in person once again.
One night, at my local deli, a girl approached me who I did not recognize at first.
After a few moments of confusion, I realized it was Savannah.
I was in complete shock.
We were both genuinely happy to see each other and awestruck about how much we’ve changed and grown from the little eleven-year-olds we were the last time we saw each other.
After this, we began texting again and keeping in contact more, but we still didn’t hang out yet.
We both went off to different high schools and continued our lives without each other, occasionally running into each other every now and then.
Reuniting For the First Time
Junior year of high school was the first time we decided to reunite as friends at a viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, one of our favorites.
I was a bit nervous before hanging out after so long.
What if it’s awkward? What if there’s tension? What if we have nothing to talk about?
While things certainly felt a bit nerve-wracking at first, this dissipated as the night went on and that childhood comfort we had with each other slowly came back.
I was amazed at how much our personalities had changed when we reunited.
Savannah was now very quiet and reserved and I, while still overall reserved, was more talkative than I was in my elementary school years.
Nevertheless, our humor was still the same as we reminisced over our childhood memories and inside jokes.
I was stunned at how much we actually remembered.
After this night, we kept in touch even more, but we wouldn’t hang out again until almost two years later.
College rolled around and Savannah began attending school in England, while I commuted to college in our state, New York.
While we still kept in touch, we wouldn’t reunite again until the summer after our freshman year of college, when she was home from school.
This was the first time we drank together. It was crazy to think that two eleven-year-olds, whose biggest thrill was once playing with their dollhouse, were now sipping a vodka cranberry together. She also met my boyfriend and I met one of her good friends.
Even more had changed since the last time we saw each other.
For one, our hair was different. Savannah’s hair was a vibrant, fiery red and I was a blonde.
We were also both in long-term relationships and both began the journey of our college party years.
But once school rolled around again, life got a hold of us and we went another year without seeing each other, but still kept in touch.
Building Our Friendship Again
The summer of 2019 was when our friendship started to grow.
Savannah and I reunited once again.
This time her hair was pink.
Savannah introduced me to the friends she made throughout our time apart and I introduced her to mine.
We hung out about five times that summer and I could slowly but naturally feel us becoming closer and closer each time we hung out.
December of 2019, we saw each other again at a Christmas party I hosted and partied at a bar on New Year’s Eve.
We were finally back in each other’s lives almost to the way we once were.
Becoming Best Friends After Ten Years
However, the summer of 2020 was when our friendship reached its highest level.
As the pandemic restrictions began to ease that summer, we began to hang out more and became closer to each other’s friends.
We were now both blondes.
Later that summer, I planned a trip to the Poconos with Savannah and a group of my other close friends.
Savannah was going through her first breakup during this time and I made sure to be as supportive as I could be.
This was then the friendship between Savannah and I really took off.
Ever since that trip, we’ve been closer than we ever were. Rather than only reminiscing about our past, we now created new inside jokes, new memories, and new experiences.
We confide in and support each other through everything, vent or rant about whatever craziness we’re going through, and have the utmost trust and respect for each other.
Something that also never stopped was our passion for writing.
While we both were involved with theatre at different points growing up, we both decided to earn our bachelor’s degree in English and continue to pursue creative writing to this very day.
Introducing Savannah to creative writing in childhood even inspired Savannah to get her master’s degree specifically in creative writing.
After ten years, Savannah and I were best friends once again.
Our Special and Unique Friendship
The thing that’s special and unique about the friendship between Savannah and me is that we accept people for who they are.
Being quirky as children and struggling with anxiety and other mental health issues, we know what it’s like to feel judged, belittled, or misunderstood.
We’re also both empaths and care deeply about the emotional well-being of others, including each other.
Despite the years that went by and the many ways that we’ve changed and grown, glimpses of our friendship will still remind me of the giggling, wacky children we once were.
It’s hard to lose someone who was a part of your life for so long. To this day I still have regrets about losing our friendship. All the years lost and events that took place in each other’s absence.
Like our seventh-grade emo and scene phase, first crushes, prom and other high school events, the list goes on.
Though we can’t bring back those years, we can only move forward from here and make up for all the time lost.
There’s a quote that reads:
“The people who are meant to be in your life will always gravitate back towards you, no matter how far they wander.” -Unknown
While it sometimes feels difficult reuniting with someone from your past and while it doesn’t always work out as effortlessly as the beautiful saying reads, for Savannah and I, it couldn’t be more true.