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Inspired by the Up Series, here’s a brief synopsis of my life in seven year increments.

What was I doing at age 7?

Current Occupation: First grade student

Career goal: Writer

Sports: Horseback riding, soccer

Favorite color: Hot pink

Celebrity crush: Elvis Presley

The year I traveled to: Disneyland

Best Friend: Na’ alei

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At age 14, here I am in front of my middle school.

Current occupation: 8th Grade Student

Career goal: Movie star

Sports: Figure skating

Favorite color: Blue

Celebrity crush: Ben Affleck

The year I traveled to: Victoria, BC (Yes? I think…)

Best Friend: Jean

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At age 21 (though technically I was 20 when this photo was taken, but this is the photo I found, so here you go)

Current occupation: University of Oregon student; Eugene Weekly intern

Career goal: Magazine editor

Sports: Rock climbing at the rec center

Favorite color: Blue

Celebrity crush: Well I wouldn’t call it a crush but I have a strong literary admiration for T. S. Eliot.

The year I traveled to: NYC, where I got engaged.

Best Friend: Spencer

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And here we are at age 28, which as you can see, is the year that my beautiful daughter Marie Joy was born….

Current occupation: Marketing Assistant at Westside Christian High School; substitute teacher

Career goal: Elementary school teacher; young adult novelist

Sports: Walking during my lunch break.

Favorite color: Still blue. I think it’s time to make a change.

Celebrity crush: Don Miller (again it’s really more of a literary thing…)

The year I traveled to: The hospital to give birth.

Best Friend: Spencer

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Dear former BFF,

I’m thankful for the years of friendship we had, even though it seems now that our friendship was only ever meant to be a temporary thing, and not a lifelong thing as my mom had been told in a dream so many years ago.  I still remember how, although you didn’t know me, you cheerfully invited me to your sixth birthday party, while we stood on the steps outside our school. I attended and we were all entertained by Sparkles the clown. My hippie parents were undoubtedly thrilled that I had befriended one of the only brown kids in school.

It’s easy for little children to make friends, isn’t it? We were so open then, not like we are now. I still remember the sleepovers, the Michael Jackson dance contests, the endless rounds of Monopoly. How we started a band in third grade and we really thought we might become famous, though none of us played an instrument. Then in fifth grade, I remember how I was going to a different middle school and you told me that you wanted to make sure we stayed friends.

In high school we were reunited. We got our first jobs together, conducting marketing surveys over the phone. Remember the weirdos who went through training with us? There was the guy who dropped a condom on the floor, looking at us while he slowly picked it up. And there was that other guy who called his mom to come pick him up next to the jail, “where he’d gotten bailed out that one time.” We only worked there for about a week.

I remember the New Year’s Eve trip to San Francisco with our other best friends, and the time our theater group shared a poster with Slick Rick. And in college, there was the time you stole a kazoo from my ex-boyfriend’s bathroom, and the time our drunk friend got locked in a dorm stairwell overnight. Most of all, I remember the laughter – no one could ever make me laugh like you could.

I’m sorry for the ways in which I failed you as a friend. I can think of a few, and you can probably think of more. Still, I don’t understand why you stopped returning my calls. As an only child, I’m one who hangs on to friendships, who doesn’t want to let them go, and so I’m almost always the last one to call. But it hurt the most when it was you. You were the best of friends, until suddenly you weren’t.

Nine years later, you’ve moved on, and so have I. I have other best friends – my husband, my daughter, my mom. I have lots of good friends from my new, adult life. I wish we could be friends again like we used to be, but time has changed us, and we can’t ever go back to that place where we stood, two first graders on the steps outside our elementary school, fulfilling MLK’s dream without even knowing.

Me with my new best friend.

Me and my new best friend.