When I was 10, I was best friends with a girl named Andrea. She lived in the brick house down the street that was for people who constantly moved. Her dad worked for the UN. She had a little brother named Sean who was 7. Whenever I told my mom I was going to go over to the brick house, I would tell her, "I'm going to Andrea and Sean's." We only knew each other for a year, but we spent almost every day together if I remember it right. Most of the time I didn't even have to call ahead because they were so close. I could just see them on the stoop from my porch and I'd run over and carve pencils out of sticks with them with our Swiss army knives. Pencils without any lead. I could talk about every fun memory I had with Andrea and Sean, but there was one time that we were trespassing on Mr. Basha's land (he never used it anyway; there was no gate to pass the fence). We somehow made it past the wall of brambles and climbed all the way down the cliff (more like a really steep hill), and found ourselves at the far side of the train tracks, where there was no platform but there was a concrete wall that we rested on, then walked along a bit. Then we found it. The dinosaur bones. Me and Andrea had no idea what kind of bones were just lying on top of the concrete, but Sean told us they were dinosaur bones. Probably pterodactyl bones, I proposed. We excitedly climbed back up the hill, wondering how much museums buy pterodactyl bones for. Or maybe a collector would buy it. The climb back up was especially hard because we were so unfocused. The brambles definitely gave us some cuts. We were wounded, but we were millionaires. We ran to tell my mom about the bones and asked her how much it would sell for. And then she told us about how dinosaur bones don't just appear on top of concrete. How it was probably a coyote. And then we weren't millionaires anymore.
I don’t remember what Andrea looked like exactly. Maybe she was pretty. I was 10. When you’re 10, who thinks about if a girl is beautiful. All I know is that I liked spending all of my time with her. Sean tagged along with everything and he was fun to have around, but I never would’ve hung out with Sean unless Andrea was there or was going to be there soon. I think that the year of Andrea and Sean was the happiest time in my life. I didn’t know it at the time and I’m just coming to the realization right now, but I think that I was in love with her. I mean, I had no idea at the time and I haven’t spoken to Andrea since she left, when I gave her my collection of Pokemon cards as a going away present, and she might be a different person now. If I met her again today, I probably wouldn’t still be in love with her. And I’m not saying that as an 18-year old I love this 11-year old memory. I mean that as an 11-year old, I was in love with this girl and I had no idea what was going on, so I had no impulses to say anything about it. And what scares me is that I’m not sure I’ll ever find something like that again. I don’t think I’ve had the happiest life and I hardly ever feel like I “belong” anywhere. When I do, it’s a fleeting feeling that is usually there because I don’t know how much of an outcast I am. When I spent the year with Andrea, I never felt unwanted or even awkward. This might be nostalgia talking, but if that’s true, then why does the rest of my past seem to suck so much?
So I know that it’s possible to feel included and genuinely happy for an extended period of time. And that I’ve felt it myself. Does that mean that it could happen again? Or was that year some crazy fluke of childhood? And that I’ve already lost the innocence needed?