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The Friend That You've Outgrown
Here's to the friend that you've outgrown,
The one whose name is left unknown.
The one who wiped away your tears,
And sought to hold your hand,
When others turned the other way,
No beginning, just an end.
She's the one you turned to,
The one that you called friend.
She laughed with you, she cried with you,
And felt it was her duty,
To remind you of your worth,
And all your inner beauty.
When others' eyes could only dwell,
Upon your exposed outer shell.
They saw a fat girl steeped in braces,
Not seeing you they turned their faces.
But she was there to whisper,
When others didn't care.
She held your secrets in her heart,
That friends like you could share.
You never had to be alone,
But now she is, 'cause you've outgrown
Her for those others whose laughs you share,
As you run carefree through the air.
Time has eased your form and face,
But she's the one who knew your grace
When those who you now call your friend
Saw no beginning . . . only end.
C. S. Dweck
My Friend, Forever
When we were merely little girls, still full of innocence and wonder, I tied your shoes and made sure your lip wasn't bleeding. 'Best friends since third grade,' we've always said. We've been to hell and back, with our bleeding hearts and tampered souls.
We've watched each other slip helplessly into the realms of addiction, holding mercilessly onto one another's palms, simply praying that it was just some horrid nightmare.
You held me with your soothing tones over the phone when my heart first broke in pain. You told me it would be okay and that I was much too strong to let some stupid boy topple me over the edge.
When I felt as though no one could possibly understand the torment going on within my soul, you were always there to reassure me that one day it would pass, and that I could always turn to you. The pain I held back with others, I could share with you—and you with me.
I suppose all I want is for you to know that I know you've been through far too much for seventeen years, and that you are the most beautiful person I have ever known. The distance that separates us now doesn't change my love for you, my sweetest friend. I can feel your thoughts from miles away and when I close my eyes I can see you there in all of your beauty.
We will rise above this. We will travel the world, write poetry and dazzle the hearts of everyone we meet.
I will never let go of your palms, my friend, and I will always be there to lift you up and tie your shoes. Best friends since third grade—to hell and back.
There Is No End in Friend
Lauren and I met during summer camp after fifth grade. We were stargazing. She was looking for Orion and I was lying on my back searching the night sky for the Little Dipper when she tripped over me and fell backwards.
'Oh sorry! I was trying to find the stars in Orion's belt and . . .'
I took her hand and pointed with it to the sky. 'Just over there.'
She smiled and introduced me to the Little Dipper. That was right where it all began, a chance encounter with a fellow camper as curious as I was about the stars.
Lauren and I were instant friends, spending the remainder of the summer together jumping rope, swimming in the lake, crushing over the cute camp counselor and gushing over our diaries by candlelight. We were attached at the hip—partners in crime, secret handshakes and lazy-day promises over fresh-squeezed lemonade to remain friends forever. She beat me at checkers and I was the chess champion. We both had June birthdays, annoying younger brothers and last names that started with W. We both loved books, funny movies and laughing until we cried.
Lauren and I lived two hours apart, so during the school year we went months without seeing each other. We maintained our long-distance friendship by telephone and e-mail. When boys broke my heart, she was there to console me at 2:00 a.m. on a school night and when Lauren's parents divorced when we were in ninth grade, Lauren came to visit for a long weekend and cried on my shoulder into pockets-full of Kleenex.
No matter what happened in our lives, we knew we would get through it because we had each other. We were convinced that a good friend was the best medicine, especially a friend that could make you laugh.
'There's no end in friend,' Lauren said.
'You're right . . .'
'You are the sugar in my tea.'
'Today I feel like coffee.'
'Okay then. I'm the cream in your coffee.'
Through thick and thin, love lost and found, family tragedy and fair-weather friends, we always knew that the other was only a couple of hours drive up the coast, an instant message, an e-mail or a phone call away.
When Lauren met her high-school sweetheart, she sent me photographs and made sure he called me on the phone so I could approve of him. His name was Isaac and he seemed really nice. She promised to dig up one of his friends so we could double-date the next time I went to visit her.
'Awesome. I love you to death,' I said, laughing.
'Oh yeah! Well, I love you to life!' Lauren exclaimed, voice creaking through the phone.
And she was right. She always knew how to rewrite the rules so that things made perfect sense. She modernized cliche;s and came up with secret passwords and sayings that suited us like twin, red dresses and matching pigtails.
The distance between our homes couldn't separate the bond we had. Lauren and I would be best friends forever. She was my soul mate, finishing my sentences and blowing me kisses from her backyard to mine.
Lauren and Isaac broke up about a year later, and I had just broken up with my boyfriend, Jake, a few weeks previously. Sweet sixteen was right around the corner for both of us and school was almost out for the summer. For some time, Lauren and I had been talking about going back to camp and now that we were old enough to attend as counselors with a summer salary to boot, we decided to return.
We spent our summer the same way we had six years earlier—stargazing, river rafting and crushing on the cute counselors over juice and pretzels. It was the first time since junior high we were able to spend the entire month together. We had grown up. Once upon a time we were little girls, whispering after lights-out and misspelling words in our diaries. Now we had driver's licenses, SAT prep courses and unrequited love stories. We had mastered the art of kissing boys, acing English papers and coming up with good excuses for getting home after curfew. We swapped stories, gave advice, listened and talked through the night. Virtually exhausted every afternoon, we napped in a heap on the counselors' couch.
On the last night of camp, we hiked to the top of Silver Mountain with our flashlights, and sprawled out in the dirt and grass, young women giggling and reminiscing about the first night we met.
'It was right over there,' I said, pointing.
'I tripped over you just like this!' Lauren laughed, pushing me into the dirt.
Lying on our backs, eyes to the sky Lauren raised her hand. 'You see that up there? That's Gemini.'
I looked over her shoulder. 'Where?' I asked.
'See the two heads? And the legs coming down—like that.'
I squinted and sure enough there they were. Twins joined at the hip, best friends forever hanging out in the sky.
Friendship is a horizon—which expands whenever we approach it.
E. R. Hazlip
During fifth-grade recess, my girlfriends and I wouldn't play kickball with the other kids. Instead, we stayed behind at the benches and made pencil sketches on blue-lined binder paper.
We sketched puppies, flowers, kittens, and my personal favorite—the future prom dress, with every detail, down to the long staircase (for the big entrance) and a crystal chandelier.
I was ten then; prom was seven years away. I was Chinese, so I didn't have a quinceanera, debutante ball or Bat Mitzvah. Prom was the one shot I had to live my Cinderella story. My only other opportunity to live the princess fantasy would be my wedding day—and I wasn't going to wait that long!
I needed prom. It was what high school was all about. Where even the most gawky of girls (me) could become a swan. It was puberty's heyday.
The dresses I sketched were fit for a night of being swept away by a prince. But I could never get a sketch quite right. All the other girls drew their dresses so evenly, earnestly and beautifully. I couldn't do it. All the while, I had a very picture-perfect vision of my prom even though it never translated well onto paper.
Years into my teenage life I still sketched these future moments. Not with paper, but in my mind—sometimes down to the last syllable of imagined dialogue. Sometimes down to the most minute detail of weather or scenery. I sketched first kisses, weddings, relationships and big, important events that transform a life into 'a life.'
Sometimes I think I've spent more time sketching than living.
Two days before the prom my boyfriend left me for someone else. He had a new girlfriend and a new date for the prom. I ended up going with my best friend, Danielle.
I wore a black slip dress. As Danielle and I danced, I tried not to look at my ex while he danced with and kissed his date. I tried not to cry about how wrong this whole scene was.
There was no romancing. No grand entrance. And it was expensive, the pictures especially, considering my eyes were closed and puffy. But I had Danielle, my best friend, to keep me from breaking down and crying through the night. I came home before midnight—not how I imagined my prom would turn out.
Danielle called me the other week while I was at work.
She said, 'Remember the prom we went to? Can you believe it? That was a pretty funny night. And we are probably the only couple from that night who still talk to each other now!'
'Yeah, I guess that's true. I'm sure nobody is still as close to their prom date as we still are. Do you think it's too late to get a refund on those prom pictures? My eyes are closed in them!' Danielle started laughing, then I started laughing, and before we knew it, we were laughing hysterically on both ends of the phone as we relayed details back and forth from that night.
When we hung up, I realized it's the 'little stuff' in life that's important, like a phone call from a friend and a good laugh.
The light breeze from the open window sent chills running up and down my spine. It's not that the air was all that cold—for a September afternoon, it was rather warm, in fact. It's just that my nerves were so fragile, so on-edge, that any unexpected movement could have set off fireworks in my heart.
'You ready?' he asked, clearing his voice as he lifted the tattered notebook from where it lay open on his desk.
I gulped and giggled nervously, not quite sure if I knew how to answer that question truthfully. Bryan laughed, too, and I could tell by the uneasiness of his smile that he was just as nervous.
Bryan's poetry was his greatest source of pride and accomplishment. Sometimes, we'd spend all day together and ideas would strike him like lightning, prompting him to pull out that notebook and jot down a note or two. Each night, he'd seek solace in his father's empty study, where only the stillness and the silence mingled with the moonlight, where he'd pour his heart into a poetic masterpiece.
Until that autumn day in my senior year, nearly two years after I'd first fallen in love with his mischievous smile, Bryan had never shared his poetry with another soul, a policy I'd always respected, despite the depth of our conversations otherwise. But this poem, he'd told me, was special. He'd been perfecting it for weeks, and finally, with me standing just inches before him in the privacy of the study, he was ready to share the most heartfelt piece he'd ever written.
'Go ahead,' I encouraged him, unable to stand seeing such worry hang over his gorgeous features.
Bryan gripped the notebook with both hands and moved his sparkling green eyes from my face down to the ink-covered page. 'It seems like I'll never truly get over you,' he began, his voice sounding stiff, but his words ringing sincere all the same. 'I'll never hear the word ‘love' without feeling your heart beat in my soul/Never will I kiss a pair of lips without wishing they were yours.'
Bryan became more emotional with every word he read, still afraid to meet my admiring gaze, but comfortable enough to bare his soul to the only person who, regardless of difficult times and a shaky relationship, loved him and his inspired heart beyond all measure, whether he felt confident about it or not.
Bryan continued reciting the poem, even occasionally making quick eye contact with me as he professed his feelings in a way I'd never heard before. With every line Bryan read, every word he spoke, I was twice as tempted to run over and melt into his arms, to rest my head on his shoulder and numb his senses with the scent of my shampoo. I wanted to tell him right then and there that it was the most beautiful poem I'd ever heard, that his words touched my heart like no others ever had.
Still captivated by the sound of Bryan's voice as he read the final few lines of the poem, I forced myself to remain still. The overwhelming urge to hold him close faded as I began to drown in the reality of Bryan's feelings. 'I hesitate to kiss you sometimes, because I know I'll never want to stop/And while the clock ticks away the moments until we part forever/I can't let a second escape without telling you ‘I love you.''
Bryan swallowed hard and stared at the poem for a moment before looking into my adoring eyes. He stood there like a young boy who knew I was his biggest admirer. 'Oh, Bryan,' I said breathlessly, clutching my heart as he sheepishly smiled at the positive reaction his sentiments had evoked.
'You really liked it?' he asked quietly, placing his hands over mine and pressing his soft pink lips to my forehead. 'I hoped you would.'
I nodded, resisting the urge to laugh at my overly emotional reaction to Bryan's words. Stepping back, I looked into his green eyes that were so full of hope. He stood confidently before me, finally ready to shout his honest declarations of love to the world, but reciting it to one more important girl in his life.
'Don't worry,' I told him, squeezing his trembling hands. 'Tiffany will love this. She'll love you for writing this for her.'
My heart began to crumble as he beamed at me, dreaming only of someone else's sweet kisses and loving embrace. After years as Bryan's number two girl, I could only hope that Tiffany saw in him everything that I did—a beautiful spirit, a caring soul and a heart that deserved more love than one person was capable of giving. As I sat back and watched their relationship grow, I hoped she knew how lucky she truly was.
As Bryan's gaze toward me conveyed an appreciative sense of friendship, I basked in his affection, however unromantic. It occurred to me that I was lucky to at least have the confidence of a friend whom I truly admired, and someday, Bryan might be privileged enough to hear my outpourings of love for another person—someone whom I hoped would admire me in the very same way.
©2008. C. S. Dweck, Melissa Malloy, Rebecca Woolf, Kristina Wong, and Cortney Martin. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV 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.