Moving from place to place is difficult. I find containers and containers of eight by tens of memories I had long forgotten. Today I broke a trencher Danielle glazed for me in the third grade. I sat over it and remembered the day she gave it to me, out of the blue, for no reason at all. She explained that she knew I liked blue, and that it might be nice for some of my necklaces. Danielle was not someone I wanted to be thinking about when every one of those years and years of pictures had her in them. Elizabeth called me to explain that she couldn't invite me to her graduation party because Danielle and Kate and Lisa would be there and she wanted as many of "us" there as possible. She promised we'd go to dinner. Just think, she organized her own graduation party and now she was organizing a whole other dinner for herself because I, the one who always plans her functions, couldn't possibly be invited. I set aside a few pictures of Elizabeth and I for framing. She seemed to be the only one besides family that I wanted to look at every day. And yet, she was stuck too. Because of me. Because of them. And no one remembered a time (those millions of times) when none of us could dream of being torn apart.
I literally picked up the phone four times before I actually called Amalie. I mean legitimately. Danielle gave me this steely glare of uncertainty, like our friendship depended on me dis-inviting Amalie to my party. And it didn't help that my mother had specifically asked me if I was inviting her and her parents. She seemed to get it. Took it well. The whole time I was remembered my fourth birthday party, the one where we rented out the old gymnastics pavilion. Amalie and I bounced on the damn trampoline for hours it seemed, practicing fearless flips and jumps until I thought I might vomit up my cake. I don't even remember the other girls who were there. I have a picture of us buried in the foam pit, hair stuck to our cheeks and statically flying outward. Amalie has her chin on top of my head and her arms around my shoulders with her hands out. Two peace signs to make four fingers. She was more excited than I was. She was almost five of course. I hadn't even met Kate and Lisa. Danielle was the girl who always wore an apron and played in the play kitchen while I sat alone in the reading corner, listening to her boss around the boys through one ear and straining for the bell with the other. Amalie was in the other class, and I would get to see her at the bell, when we filed past each other, switching rooms. We always smiled and waved at each other.
I don't like being disappointed in my daughter. She told me it was Danielle and I accept that. But I miss Amalie and her facts, and her mother's jokes. I'm not really sure what happened. Lizzy tells me Danielle's boy toy finally gave up on her. Amalie has something to do with it. Little girl dramas that I don't miss. I remember braiding her hair because her mother didn't know how. The girls matched in their braids and dresses, and we would walk them to the grocery store after school, getting vegetables for their dinner. Me explaining how to goad my Lizzy to sit still, Adele spilling her woes about her ex-husband, warning me not to follow her path. The girls would race carts down the aisles as we walked leisurely. Those were my afternoons. So when my Elizabeth chooses between the girl with everything and her best friend forever, I'm disappointed in the answer. I don't like it. I wish I could fast forward or rewind back a few clips. Perhaps ask Kate and Lisa how "the group" was doing. But I can't. I called Adele last week to wish her a happy birthday. She sounded tired.
Now I really am all she has. My little Amalie is sitting in her room at the top of the stairs with a box of photographs. I recognize the box. Her father left it in his closet, filled with pictures of us during our engagement. Now it is full of old memories for her too. So much sadness in an old shoebox. Too much for such a young girl. I picked up the extension when Lizzy called; I heard her cruel words. Lizzy is a good girl, and I love her so, but who is my baby going to call from Arizona when a boy breaks her heart or she needs cheering up? Certainly not me. If things were different, she could talk to Elizabeth's mother, or gather the girls around her for protection. Now she is all in the cold. Penguins huddle for warmth. Those that don't, don't survive. My girl is strong I know. But everyone has a little weakness in them. And those memories are the only ones she has. We spent our days with Lizzy and her mom, and our nights hosting sleepovers for Lisa, Kate, Danielle, and Lizzy. Sometimes we went on vacation with Lizzy and her parents, me always a bit of a fifth wheel. There were no holidays with my parents or my brothers, no trips to visit Amalie's paternal grandfather in Boulder, no penpals, no neighbors. She is so isolated because of that. And now Lizzy has chosen, and so it shall be. My daughter notices me at the foot of the stair and half smiles, "I've forgotten the laundry?" She has.
I'm the one crying myself to sleep at night. I'm the one with nothing. Elizabeth gives me puppy eyes when I mention her graduation party. Kate and Lisa whisper to each other instead of to me. Amalie has ruined everything. Everything. I practically had to miss all my rehearsals because my parents decided I need a vacation. I had to reduce my reserved tickets on the last day because I had put her name down in advance. Now Elizabeth might not even come because she wants to do some dinner with Amalie. If I saw her at Elizabeth's party I would die. Good thing she's going away. I hope she burns red in Arizona. I hope she makes no friends. This way, I can call Elizabeth any time I want to make plans and I won't have to worry about her being around. Kate and Lisa will come too. It'll be just as before. All of the honest people in the room. Elizabeth said her mother was concerned about Amalie's mother. She should be concerned about me and my feelings. I bet Amalie's mother told her some story. And Amalie looks all innocent, like she didn't ruin my life. Well I'm going to call her. I need my ring back anyway. I need my life back.