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After The Ball

Naomi went back to New York early yesterday morning, and Maddie is a bit bereft. The flight out was in the wee hours so Maddie and Naomi said their goodbyes the night before and I woke up at 5 to get Naomi and Ingrid to the airport. But when I got home, just as the sun started graying the sky, I heard a rustling in Maddie’s room and came to find her wide awake, tossing and turning.

“She’s gone, isn’t she?” Maddie asked quietly. I nodded and snuggled into bed with her.

“I woke up earlier and ran downstairs to see if I could catch her, but she was already gone. And then I couldn’t get back to sleep,” Maddie said. Her eyes were dry, but I could see sorrow there.

So yes, the visit went incredibly well. From the first fierce embrace at the airport to a belated birthday party for Naomi on Saturday night, the girls slid smoothly along, instantaneously back in their friendship of five years ago.

When they were two years old.

Seriously, I don’t know how this is possible. I mean, they parted when they barely had a grasp of the spoken language – they were still learning the finer arts of using a spoon, for heaven’s sake! – but they’ve got some sort of connection. Naomi is a bold Latina New Yorker who speaks her mind fearlessly while Maddie’s a timid southern white girl who allows fear to dominate her sometimes, but somehow it just works.

It just works.

I know, of course, that this is not the real world. If Naomi lived here, the girls would inevitably fight, would be guaranteed to hurt each other’s feelings and storm off. And if we hadn’t spent the past five days in one long Disney moment, going from Fun Thing to Funner Thing to MOST Fun Thing, there would have been glimpses of discord. As it was, Maddie would blink when Naomi spoke more baldly than Maddie is used to – but then Maddie absorbed it and went on, no hurt feelings.

We spent Thursday after school playing on the school playground, and Maddie invited several local friends to come and meet her First Friend, and I confess I was curious how the old and new worlds would mix together: I was concerned there’d be people left out and hurt feelings. And at first, I could see it going in fits and starts, with me having to remind Maddie every ten minutes to make and effort to include her local friends as she and Naomi flew around the playground like they used to in New York. But by the time we left there they were, a tangle of five or six girls all playing and laughing together on the slide.

Somehow, it just worked.

We’ve made promises to let the girls Skype regularly, to empower them to stay in touch more easily. Maddie’s already written a letter to Naomi, ready to send it off. We’ll see how they do, how they work at having regular conversations long-distance.

But I know that even if they don’t, if they don’t speak to each other for another five years, when they get back together they’ll pick up right where they left off.

It just works.


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