“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis
The moving truck has come and gone and with one last sleepover, it’s official that my daughter’s first best friend and our neighbor has moved away. We ticked through the 90 days since the announcement, some went quickly, others with a happy unawareness and then finally the days when it hung over our choice of activities like a dark cloud. And then the time arrived.
This is the first friendship that I’ve seen through my kid’s eyes. It started when my daughter was 3-years-old, I’d put her on my shoulders so she could see across the fence to talk to the little girl next door. If they were really lucky, Miss O would be up on my shoulders and Miss Z who was then 4-years-old would be up on her daddy’s shoulders and they could talk face to face.
As Miss O got bigger and I got closer to my due date with her brother, I searched for a new solution as the shoulder carry got uncomfortable. Putting my 6 foot ladder next to the fence, Miss O would climb up to the highest step we agreed upon, Miss Z would climb her tree and they’d talk.
The ladder stayed next to the fence even as they became more and more comfortable with play dates and visiting each other’s yards. Then one day I found my 1-year-old son who’d just learned to walk atop the ladder looking as comfortable as can be.
Of course I snapped a picture of it as I ran across the yard to get him down. That night after I got the kids in bed, with agreement from Miss Z’s family, I got out my dad’s Sawzall and cut a hole in the fence. After I attached two little hinges and a doorknob for each side, it become Miss O’s portal into the yard next door.
At the beginning of the pandemic, each girl would put a table on her side of the fence and they’d “eat together” talking through the window. They’ve passed markers, stuffies and shared deserts through the window in the fence. They’ve argued and then put apology notes through the portal. When we’ve accidentally stomped a rocket all the way into their yard, sometimes it comes back through the window in the fence.
This window has given me an insight about friendship. About the little windows in which we are visible to each other. The doorknobs we pull tight when the vulnerability is too much. The transparency with which we are willing to regard our own and other’s lives.
Now the window is closed. Sure, they’ll stay friends and figure out how to talk but this open-window era has ended. If fences make good neighbors, then little windows in them make good friends.