The first best friend is the most memorable. Everything about being "best friends" is new. It's a lot of responsibility for a six year old. "You mean I'm the best friend??" you say to yourself. "I have to be the BEST?" Talk about pressure.
I remember my first (non-dog) best friend. His name was David. We were best friends from such a young age that neither of us remember our first encounter. So we did what any reasonable 6 year olds would do: we made up a lie. We convinced ourselves that we met in the hospital just after being born. The way we figured it, if we didn't remember meeting each other, we must have met at a very young age. And when you are six, a "very young age" is, well, birth. And it sure felt like we knew each other from birth. During our summers, we were one in the same. Swim team, day camp, McDonalds, Power Wheels. You name it, we did it together.
I never had an older brother, so I adopted David's old brother. We looked up to Adam like you wouldn't believe. And all of Adam's friends. They listened to Color Me Badd, so we listened to Color Me Badd. They liked Kris Kross, so I (obviously) was Kris and David was Kross. Every summer, life was perfect. I could count on David and I being inseparable. We'd talk about our girlfriends; we'd share Cinnamon Rolls and Wild Thang Burritos; and sometimes we'd talk about Cinnmon Rolls and Wild Thangs while sharing girlfriends. These were the summers I knew for ten years. Mornings we would dread that first jump into the chilly pool, the sun still hiding behind the Sandias. An hour later, we would hop out of the pool and crowd together under the hot water spouting out the shower head. Our first couple years, the shower conversation was focused on boogers and day camp. As we got older, it was girls and the freedom of summer. Clockwork. It was dependable and it was what I knew.
I just found out that David committed suicide. He was 24. We fell out of touch as we became older. The excitement of high school became too much for our summertime friendship. Nobody knows how to cope with growing up, so David and I started to grow apart. High school and college came and went, but my memory of Dave always remained the same. In my eyes, he was the 7 year old who could be tickled by the wind; or maybe the 12 year old breaststroking fiend; or maybe the 15 year old Casanova. No matter which memory I choose, David encapsulates the innocence of my childhood. He is my Rosebud. When my children ask me to describe my youth, I'll describe it as "David Strickman". He's become an adjective in my life. The innocence and purity of an American summertime.
I knew Dave when our biggest worries were getting caught sneaking out of the pool 30 minutes before the end of practice. Apparently his worries grew bigger, and I just wish he would have called me as they ballooned, so we could take each other back to those summers when our problems weren't so big. I love you David. I hope to see you again someday.