By Nell Becker, 15, Beverly Hills HS
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Of all the expressions, words, and ideas out there, goodbye is the one that scares me the most. I’m one of those people who is afraid of change, of losing something that’s going well. So when my mom told me last year that I was moving to California from New York, you could imagine how frightened I was. That’s about a million good-byes. And the person I was most afraid to say goodbye to was my best friend Yasmine.

I mean, Yaz and I were inseparable. We did everything together. For example, once Yaz and I took a cab to what we thought was our friend’s house but actually turned out to be Spanish Harlem, not a safe neighborhood at ALL, and especially not at midnight. Yaz calmed me down when I started to freak out (and that is pretty hard to do). She called my mom and told her the truth, even though she knew it was going to get us into a lot of trouble. She knew it was the safest thing to do. When my mom told Yasmine to leave the room, she refused because her reasoning was we had gotten into it together, and were going to stay together. She squeezed my arm the whole time while my mom yelled at her and me. Even though we were grounded, I was there when she needed me to hold her hand while she got her belly button pierced. You would think this isn’t a big sacrifice, but for a small girl Yasmine has a strong grip that could stop blood flow. But I didn’t let go, and I didn’t tell her to ease up. If she had to go through pain, so would I.

The final farewell was painful

When it was time to say goodbye at the airport, I cried so hysterically I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I thought that something was ending inside myself and between us. But the next four months proved me wrong. We talk to each other every single day over the phone without fail, going over our days in specific detail (I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that kind of behavior—we just got our $300 phone bill back). We watch Dawson’s Creek together, even though there’s a time difference, thanks to the VCR.

Instead of sending letters, we send packages. In the first package she sent me, there were magazine articles and collages, the choker I used to always borrow, lip gloss that had spent the entire year going from the bottom of my backpack to the bottom of hers. There was a small glass tube with a few pieces of grass picked from her front yard. It was the grass that we had laid on so many sticky summer nights with Z-100 blaring (New York’s version of KIIS-FM) just so we could hear the song "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan. It was the grass that I’d stepped on while we ran in the rain on one of the very first days of spring. It was the grass where my feet had brushed the first time
I went to her house in early winter and swung on her swing. In her so-familiar handwriting it said, "a small piece of home." And that’s when I burst into tears, half out of sadness, and half out of happiness. It was more than missing her or my old life; I was missing home.

She visited for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving we raised money on our own so she could come to visit. I had to make many sacrifices, like saving allowances and savagely searching the couch for change. That was nothing compared to the sacrifice she had to make: she baby-sat the two-year-old twins we like to call "the gropers."

On November 24, I was at LAX, waiting nervously outside her gate. I hadn’t seen her in four months. What if things weren’t the same? Before I had time to think about it, people started to get off the plane. I watched them one by one go with their friends and family and then my mom said, "There she is." I frowned. I couldn’t see her. I was afraid she looked so different I didn’t recognize her and I started searching frantically for anyone with a tote bag with comics all over it (a $1 bag she had bought in a Martha’s Vineyard vintage store). Then to my relief I saw she was just behind someone else. She looked exactly the same, as of course she should have. We hugged and from that minute on things were exactly the same. It was just like she was coming to sleep over for the weekend. The other part of myself was there, and all through the weekend my mom kept saying how normal it was that Yaz was here.

The problem is when she wasn’t in our house—her laughter booming throughout the walls, washing our dishes and giving my mom advice on me—things didn’t feel normal. Since I’ve moved, I’ve been so depressed, half because I had left my life behind and half because I depended on Yaz so much. It made me in a way sheltered from being on my own, which is what I have to do here in this new place. The sad part is that I have to let go of her a bit, but I’d have to do that even if I were in New York. We’re both growing up. At the same time, I realized from that weekend that no matter where Yasmine was, I was going to be with her. She brings out the most honest and wholesome part of myself, the part I like the best. With her to support me I feel like I can do anything, even get through the move.

When she left I hardly cried even though it could be months until we next see each other again. Our friendship is a promise though, that we’ll never have to say goodbye and never have to part. We are embedded in each other’s lives, ready to help one another out just by smiling and laughter. She is a promise that home is always waiting for me.