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My childhood best friend and I lost touch, but we ended up at the same college. We’re now making up for lost time.

Maddie Browning and her friend, then and nowThe author and her childhood best friend rekindled their relationship in college.

Courtesy of Maddie Browning

  • My childhood best friend and I were inseparable, but we slowly grew apart as our hobbies differed. 
  • In a strange twist of fate, we ended up at the same college in Boston. 
  • We are now rekindling our friendship and making up for lost time. 

I don’t remember it, but I’ve been told Rebecca first approached me at orientation at Cottonwood Preschool in Littleton, Colorado. She walked right up to me and asked me to be her friend. As the kind, empathetic person I am, I said, “No.”

I feel horrible about it to this day. To give myself credit, I have anxiety, and that unfortunate interaction didn’t actually stop us from being friends.

From that moment on, we became childhood best friends, and now we are trying to rekindle that friendship in college.

We were inseparable growing up

When our parents first set us up on playdates, we became inseparable. We could make each other laugh about the most random things until we started crying. We loved to be in the spotlight, dancing ballet in “The Nutcracker” every year — making sure we knew all the parts. We loved performing overly dramatic karaoke songs for Rebecca’s mom for hours. We ordered McDonald’s Happy Meals, and I kept the pickles on my cheeseburger to give them to her. We shared secrets and thoughts we didn’t tell anyone else.

We had a connection like platonic soulmates, as dramatic as it sounds. Being around her didn’t take any effort, and we never ran out of things to do or talk about. We could find joy in the smallest activities, from dressing up in her thrifted adult gown collection that drowned us in fabric to listening to her mom sing “Dream a Little Dream of Me” to us as we fell asleep.

She was the sister I never had, and I couldn’t imagine my life without her.

But as we got older, our relationship changed

As we continued with ballet lessons, I stopped loving it as much as she did. I always enjoyed singing and wanted to try musical theater, but with ballet training five days a week, there wasn’t time for both. So, I said goodbye to ballet at 13 and switched to musical theater. Rebecca kept dancing. It wasn’t easy to keep in touch when we didn’t go to the same school, couldn’t drive ourselves, and were always busy with separate rehearsals.

We tried to catch up, grabbing dinner here and there with our moms, but it wasn’t how it used to be. We were navigating the end of middle and beginning of high school without each other — a pivotal moment of development, and our lives didn’t align.

We barely spoke until we didn’t at all. It felt like we couldn’t connect in the same way that we used to.

We are now getting a second chance at friendship

I graduated from high school during the start of the pandemic in 2020 when Rebecca was still a junior. Our contact was still minimal, but for my graduation present, she gifted me the sweetest, heartfelt gift. She put together a basket of items I loved and a thick stack of envelopes with prompts like “Open me when you’re sad” and “Open me when you’re missing home.”

She was always a thoughtful gift-giver, but it meant so much that she still knew me after years of little interaction. I felt melancholic opening each envelope at Emerson College, sifting through her notes and photos she included of the little, happy girls we used to be.

Rebecca moved to California with her parents after high school. But in a strange twist of fate, her college took away their film program, and she transferred to Emerson last fall. I was excited to see her again, but I was so nervous that it would feel weird. I worried that we would be stuck reminiscing and not growing our friendship as it exists now.

Somehow, when I first saw her at the Boylston T stop by our campus, my apprehensions faded, and it felt like we were never apart. She smiled at me, and I knew we would be OK.

We’re both busy with classes and work, but we see each other at least once a week now. We attend movies with our AMC A-List passes, hang out in her dorm room, get work done, or just chat.

Sometimes, I catch a glimmer of the little girls we used to be — in our giggles at jokes no one else understands or when we catch a Boston Ballet performance and debrief afterward.

It’s not often that you find someone you can be apart from for a long time and simply pick up where you left off when you reconnect again — especially when you met at a different stage of life than where you are now. But Rebecca is that person for me.

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