Sample text for Chicken soup for the teenage soul III : more stories of life, love, and learning / [compiled by] Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Kimberly Kirberger.


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Counter
Kim

Friends are treasures.
Horace Bruns



We both lie sideways on her bed, the screen door slapping open and shut with the California breeze. We thumb through fashion magazines, laughing at the hairstyles and smelling the perfume samples. It seems like any other Sunday between girlfriends; laughter filling the room, a half-eaten carton of cookies between the two of us. This was my Sunday afternoon ritual, the two of us and our magazines, and from the time I was twelve, I lived for these afternoons. She was my friend, but more than that, she was a safe place, an unconditional love, and she was an adult.
I had known Kim most of my life. For the first ten years of my life, Kim wasn't one of the closest adults in my life, but her husband John doted on me and was one of the only "grown-ups" to understand my fearless and abundant energy.
When I was twelve, I moved to Los Angeles to live with my father. Kim and John also lived nearby, and soon after my move, I began spending time at their home. Kim was fun; she liked to laugh and talk about boys. She listened to me while I talked about my crushes and fights with my family. She spoke to me as an equal, as a friend, not a child.
As I grew older, these visits became more important. I would cry over heartbreaks and whine about the latest rejection. The gap in age between us stayed the same, but the space between us grew closer. I called her with secrets, which she kept, and went to her when I couldn't handle my world for a while.
I think my parents went through periods of jealousy and hurt regarding Kim and our friendship, because they wished they could be the ones to whom I came with my stories. I had reached an age where it was harder to relate to my parents, but I still needed guidance. Kim offered that guidance; she didn't force-feed it.
Soon I was sixteen, and things began to change. I sunk into sadness, and I was slipping away from everyone, including Kim. I was taken to the hospital after swallowing a bottle of pain medication, and there, without question, was Kim. She was two hours away when the call came, and she showed up at the hospital with hair things and, of course, magazines. We didn't talk about the incident, but when she pulled my hair up for me, I saw in her eyes true fear and heartache. She used to say to me, "You wouldn't want to spend so much time with me if I really was your mom." I didn't understand those words until that day when she offered me the feeling of love without obligation. She wasn't my mom; she wasn't obligated to love me, she just did.
After my suicide attempt, things between us, though unspoken, began to change. I stopped spending Sunday afternoons at her house. I called, but not as often. I didn't feel good about myself, so I couldn't feel good about our friendship. I figured I had grown up and that we had just grown apart. Like any normal friendship, it had transformed, and I believed that I no longer needed Kim or the friendship.
The summer before I left for college, I went to say good-bye to Kim. Though we hadn't been as close for the last two years, we both cried when I left. I walked down the walkway from her house, and she called out from the kitchen window, "Call me if you need anything." I knew she meant that.
My first semester was hard. I was far from home, a little lonely, and things began to swing back down for me. With pure instinct, I picked up the phone. It was late. Kim picked up the phone, and I asked, "Were you sleeping?" She replied, "Yes, but it's okay. What's wrong? What do you need?" What I needed was Kim. I needed to hear her voice, and feel that California breeze in her back bedroom. I needed to tell her that our friendship had finally surpassed the age gap.
We talked about once a week after that, every Sunday afternoon. I called with the stress of my finals and with my newest boy problem. When I returned home for the summer, I went to Kim's, and we read magazines and ate cookies. I had become an adult, what she had always been. When I was younger, she had related to me on a level that I needed at that time, and now she relates to me as an equal. She was right; things would have been different if she were my mom. I didn't need another mom. I had one. I needed exactly what she gave: love, unconditional. And because she wanted me in her life, not because she had to have me.

—Lia Gay


(c)2000 Lia gay. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul III by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Kimberly Kirberger. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.


Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Teenagers -- Conduct of life -- Anecdotes.
Adolescence.
Conduct of life.
Children's writings.
Youths' writings.