Ever since Larissa and Kara met in their second grade classrooms, they’ve been best friends.
Fair-skinned, blue-eyed blonde Larissa and Kara, with her olive skin, dark eyes and matching hair, seem like two opposites. But they are very similar. They are both excellent students. Both love horses, cats, and dogs. They’re artistic and enjoy drawing. Both love to bake and help in the kitchen. And they like to garden. They were tomboys – running in the woods, exploring, climbing trees. And on top of that, each spent summers in a foreign country – Larissa in Dad’s homeland of Ukraine, Kara in Turkey where her mother is from. They went through getting glasses and braces the same year. In school, they were inseparable. Everyone knew they were best friends. Friends for life, they assured each other.
This year we pulled Larissa out of public school for eighth grade. They could no longer have lunches together, or sit next to each other in various classes. Last year, when Larissa knew that she’d be homeschooled this year, she and Kara discussed how they’d hang on to their friendship, seeing each other on weekends, calling each other, even writing cards.
But it didn’t happen. Kara was always busy – playing sports, doing homework, going to temple with her family, cleaning her room. Always too busy to visit or talk.
Last week Larissa climbed into bed with me and lamented that fact. “Kara just doesn’t seem to want to be friends anymore. She’s always busy. How can you be too busy to talk? We used to talk on the phone even when we saw each other in school. I think that she doesn’t want to talk – or to be friends.”
For several weeks, Larissa has been calling Kara’s house. No one ever answers. Are they out most evenings, participating in sports? Did they go out of town for winter break? Are there problems at home? Did Kara’s dad get laid off? Or – this thought crept into Larissa’s mind – do they see Larissa’s number on caller ID and simply not pick up the phone?
Larissa called Kara a couple of days ago and finally her mother picked up. After a long silence, Kara came to the receiver.
“I’m busy right now,” she said in an aloof tone. “I have to do math homework.”
Larissa was crushed, and I perhaps even more so.