When I was eight years old, I lived in Virginia and had a best friend, Tracey. She was a year younger than I, but we were inseparable. Even at that young age, I have fond memories of playing, having sleepovers, knowing her family well and much more. For some odd reason, I can easily remember my address and phone number from that time in my life, as well as hers. I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast, so that’s kind of surreal knowing that those particular details come so easily.
We moved away that year, and I was devastated to lose my best friend. While we tried to keep in touch through letters and occasional visits, our friendship faded.
This summer I was back in Virginia, near enough to my old home that I wanted to go see it and see how it changed from 38 years ago. I actually found the street easily and had a major trip down memory lane upon seeing houses I recognized (although the growth in the area was expectedly substantial). I saw my former church and a 7-11 store we used to go to. I drove past the local swimming pool and houses of friends I used to know. And I saw my house – looking much, much smaller than what I remembered as an 8-year-old.
Going a bit down the street to where Tracey lived, it somehow felt the same to me … minus the treehouse in the backyard, perhaps. And right at that moment, a woman came out the front door and I immediately knew it was Tracey’s mother. I guess since Diane was an adult when I knew her, she hadn’t changed much to me. I decided to pull over and say hello. It took a minute for it to click with her who I was, but then she was genuinely happy to see me. Our brief driveway reunion covered our families, life in China, and everything in between.
It turns out that Tracey was still in the area, living in her "Nana’s" old house (we spent much time there together). Diane suggested that she lead me there as a surprise to Tracey, so off we went.
Her youngest daughter opened the door, and that took me back many years — she looked like her mother! But when Tracey came downstairs, I was sad to realize that I wouldn’t have recognized her so easily, nor would she recognize me. However, we spent the next 20 minutes or so catching up, jogging our memories, and exchanging email addresses. One of her daughters is my oldest daughter’s age, and they exchanged emails as well. It felt like a next generation moment.
It was a full week in the Washington D.C. and Virginia area, with my father’s burial service, much sight-seeing, and now this reminiscent trip back to my childhood. But I have to say it was one of the summer’s highlights. I dug up pictures from those days that my mom had stored and I hope to reconnect with Tracey on some level. It was fun to watch my girls see that you can actually revisit your past friendships and still be excited about it, even from 38 years past.
Photos by Charlotte Moreau